Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mr President, Tear Down This Plan

President Obama is addressing the nation today on health care. But the girls got their word in first. Camille Paglia wants heads to roll at the White House. She wonders how the president's staff could have allowed such a train wreck over health care and over everything else.

As an Obama supporter and contributor, I am outraged at the slowness with which the standing army of Democratic consultants and commentators publicly expressed discontent with the administration's strategic missteps this year.

Yeah, that's right. In this consumer society political contributor Paglia expects to get good value for money.

And then there's Sarah Palin, doubling down on "death panels" in the Wall Street Journal. She quotes Ronald Reagan, " that 'no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds.'" But then she takes apart President Obama's op-ed on health care in the New York Times. You go girl!

How can we ensure that those who need medical care receive it while also reducing health-care costs? The answers offered by Democrats in Washington all rest on one principle: that increased government involvement can solve the problem. I fundamentally disagree.

You know what is so refreshing? Sarah Palin is arguing from first principles.

News reports today suggest that President Obama is not going to abandon his "public option." So I call on President Obama, at this last moment, to abandon his unjust plan.

What really sticks in my craw about most liberal policies is the crude compulsion. It is not enough to tax all Americans to pay for liberal programs to help the poor, even though the programs usually devastate rather than build up. Comes the day when liberals decide that it's not enough to screw the poor. No. Liberals want everyone has to submit to the liberal program themselves. Because liberals want it.

I have no problem if liberals want to join together in pre-paid health cooperatives, like Group Health Cooperative in Seattle. If that's what they want, good for them.

But that's not enough for liberals. Everyone else has to join their lovely cooperative plan too.

The president's plan is advertised as an expansion of health benefits. Maybe it is, in a way. But the main thrust seems to me to corral the folks that are dodging out of paying for health insurance--the young, the unemployed, the illegal, the rich--and make them pay.

Now, there may be an argument for trying to capture these free-loaders and make them pay. But surely it is not necessary to turn the health care system into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Congress in order to do so. Apart from the crudity, it utterly misunderstands the nature of health care--indeed any human need. Hugh Hewitt's Clark Judge:

Social democratic models of policy reform assume we know everything we need to know about how to do things right. Social democrats believe it just takes a rational government t[o] bring that knowledge to bear. In contrast, market models assume that knowledge is limited and that progress comes through experiments – often entrepreneurial experiments -- in which the determinant of success is the cumulative impact of choices that millions of people make in their own lives with their own money.

This is the basic argument that F.A. Hayek made sixty years ago, and it is the fundamental problem we conservatives have with all liberal government programs. How do you know that your administrative 1,000 page bill really comprehends the problem? And how can you suppose that you have the bandwidth to adapt the program to changing circumstances even if your program is exactly right for today?

The fact is that the satisfaction of every human need is a moving target. It changes all the time as conditions and knowledge changes. People find new ways of satisfying human needs, and the world changes.

But this ObamaCare proposal will cast the provision of health care in concrete. It will make it much harder to change health care in the future. And it will encourage Americans to come to government to force society to provide them with their needs instead of working it out on their own.

Mr. President. Tear down this plan!

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