Hasn't enough been written about Obamacare? Do I really have to add to the stock of hot air? The day is long and the burden is heavy – please let me rest.
OK I'm going to try to humour myself up with a story told to my traveling friends gathered around the fireplace. Light your pipes and close your eyes. But don't fall asleep! Too late for old Barry – he doesn't want to hear any more stories tonight.
Now it is perfectly understandable that the president tried to fix the American health care system. That's what Americans do – something broken, let's fix it.
And the American health care system certainly was broken. We were paying twice as much for our health care as any other competing country. Honest self employed people like me (the honest part – the only thing I was employed at was entertaining myself) couldn't buy decent insurance on the open market (and I was one of the healthy ones – imagine if the insurance company thought I was one of the sick ones). Seventy million people didn't have health insurance (wait a minute – nobody needs health insurance, everybody needs health care – were they getting health care? Yup).
So wait just a hairy minute here. Everybody had health care? Yup. It was the best health care in the world? Yup.
So … I'm confused. What was the crisis?
We were paying too much for it. And just about everybody wanted it for free.
Oh my golly delicious. That sounds like a two part problem. One part mine (paying too much) and one part yours, you greedy self serving worm you. There is no free lunch, and there is no free health care. You have to pay for it. Just like pizza.
Back to the real problem – yes we were paying too much. Twice as much, but not twice as good. Overcharged.
So … quick question. Why? Quick answer. Because there was so much government interference in the market it went to hell in a handbasket.
Any other questions? Class dismissed.
That's right, the government – state and federal – interfered in the market and royally twisted things up. Allow me to list the ways.
1) Monopolized the market for everyone 65 and up. Call me Medicare.
2) Took a lot of healthy young men and women out of the insurance pool. Call me VA hospitals.
3) Gave tax breaks to people who bought their health insurance through their employer. Call me Mr. Subsidized.
4) Prevented insurance companies from competing across state lines. Call me for a violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause (read your Constitution today? One section a day and you'll be done in no time).
5) FDA. We prefer to have you die waiting for our approval, when we don't get blamed for it.
6) Political hysteria drummed up by media hysteria. The sky is falling the sky is falling! Wasn't that fairy tale supposed to teach us not to believe the sky is falling? I understand why politicians never figured that out, but journalists? Oh that's right – they can only sell ads if they sell newspapers and they can only sell newspapers if the sky is falling. Makes perfect sense now.
7) Monopolistic behavior. I have heard, and I can only hope it is not true, that in some states hospitals have to get approval from some government employee before they are allowed to buy new medical technology. Please convince me this is just a horrid rumor.
8) Patents. They come from the government. They are supposed to encourage innovation. We might want to revisit that idea.
9) Lawyers. But we can blame them for everything, so let's not get too excited. They sue doctors, which in some cases may be a good idea, in others not so much.
10) Workers compensation insurance. What? Yet another government mandate? Why do people who have insurance, need workers' compensation insurance? Isn't that just making things complicated? OK, I give up, you're right.
There are many more. I just pulled those ten out of my hat between mile markers 290 and 272. Just think if I went to zero.
So we have this completely messed up health care billing system and a fella wants to fix it – sounds easy. Slow and easy get the government out of it. Maybe a ten year plan.
Nope. The President – and if you are someone who hates him and wants me to say nasty things about him I will not, because I'm thinking you wouldn't have done so great in the hot seat either – decided to double down. Instead of less government involvement, more.
Why should anyone be surprised when it didn't exactly work as planned? You really thought you knew so much – that anybody knew so much – that you or anybody could 'fix' the largest industry in the country?
"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design," sayeth Hayek.
So now you know. Don't make the same mistake again, thank you very much I'm dreaming.