Thursday, August 13, 2009

Battling insomnia - again (largely due to a sick Labrador Retriever that needs attention) - I "stumbled" upon a website maintained by an Economist named Cliff Asness. Cliff is living proof that economists can, in fact, have a sense of humor.

Cliff has a very entertaining piece entitled "Health Care Mythology" that enjoyed reading. Its a tad long but he makes a very thorough argument against Obama's Public Option that is worth the time to read. I've excerpted some of my favorite parts below, bold emphasis mine. Well done, Cliff.


"Many of the countries we are being compared with come from, frankly, healthier cultures than ours. I do not think the government should be allowed to make, for instance, your health vs. fast food trade-off for you. If free Americans more often than others go for the Wendy’s Triple w/ Cheese like I do, our cost/GDP will be higher. Freedom sometimes ain’t sugar‑free. By the way, if we change our system to socialism, but these habits persist, our costs will still be higher. So, here come the diet and exercise laws..."

"The government does not co-exist or compete fairly with private enterprise, anywhere. It does not play well with others. The regulator cannot be a competitor at the same time. It cannot compete fairly while it owns the armed forces and courts. Finally, it cannot be a fair competitor if when the 'public option' screws up (can’t pay its bills), the government implicitly or explicitly guarantees its debts. We have seen what happens in that case and don’t need a re-run."

More on Govt Competition with the private sector:

"Once the government discovers it cannot win, it changes the rules. You see, the government has the power to legislate, steal, imprison, and even kill. Those are advantages most private firms do not have, save Google, and you did not hear that from me...."

"But it takes literally seconds to realize that this 'public option' cannot co-exist with the freedom to choose and thus will indeed lead to full‑on socialization. Since the simplest answer is usually best, and the President has already declared his preference for a 'single-payer' system, and since this 'public option' leads there with near certainty, might I be forgiven for assuming he knows this and has a socialized medicine end-game in mind?" Yes, you can most definately be.

On the inevitable rationing that the Public Option will lead to:

"It is an uncomfortable truth that tough choices will have to be made. There is no system that provides for unlimited wants with limited resources. Our choice is whether it should be rationed by free people making their own economic calculations or by a bureaucracy run by Congressional committee (whose members, like the Russian commissars, will, I guarantee you, still get the best health care the gulag hospitaligo can provide). Free people making their own choices only consume what they value above price, using funds they have earned or been given voluntarily. With socialized medicine health care is rationed by committees of politicians trying to get re-elected and increase their own power, and people consume as much of it as the commissars deem permissible. I do not find these tough alternatives to choose between."

On the "right" to health care:

"Listing rights generally involves enumerating things you may do without interference (the right to free speech) or may not be done to you without your permission (illegal search and seizure, loud boy-band music in public spaces). They are protections, not gifts of material goods. Material goods and services must be taken from others, or provided by their labor, so if you believe you have an absolute right to them, and others don’t choose to provide it to you, you then have a 'right' to steal from them. But what about their far more fundamental right not to be robbed?" (I made a similar comment here).

On the motivation of politicians pushing government-run health care:

"Lots of politicians understand that the simple free system leaves them out in the cold. No power for them. No committees to sit on to decide people’s lives. No lies to tell their constituents how they (the government) brought them the health care they so desperately need. No fat checks from lobbyists as the crony capitalists pay dearly to make the only profits possible under this system, those bestowed by the government. "

Check out Cliff's work. Its a fun read.