Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beating Health Care to Death

Three things astonish me about the health care debate.  One is that it seems to be the only issue that raises red flags about future costs. The second is the myth that bureaucrats only come in government garb, and the third is the difference between a salary for an honest day's work and a profit.
Profit is taken by investors after the costs of running a business, including salaries, have been paid.  A non-profit business is one that covers its costs, including the salaries of its officers and employees, but doesn't reward anyone for simply having provided the capital. Commentators never seem to get around to pointing this out.  Even when they affirm that health care is a right, not a privilege, they don't seem to follow that train of thought to its logical conclusion, which is that there is no reason to reward anyone for providing the capital required to run health care.
This leads to the second point (counting backwards), which is that government does not have a monopoly on bureaucracy.  Anyone who pushes papers rather than creating something, whether it be a piece of art or an automobile, is essentially a bureaucrat.  The ultimate bureaucrat is someone whose papers determine what happens to you, whether you like it or not.  So when opponents of health care reform cry out: "Don't let a bureaucrat make your health choices, he's right: but private health insurers, like governments, are run as bureaucracies.  The difference is that when the health insurance bureaucrats have been paid their salaries, investors receive profits.  When a government bureaucrat gets his salary, the expense stops there.  The government doesn't make a profit on health care.  By definition, a government doesn't make a profit on anything.
That's why we pay taxes.  Our taxes are the equivalent of the capital that investors put into a private company.  Investors are rewarded with the profits the company makes. We are rewarded for paying taxes with the benefits they enable government to provide us, starting with our right to live a healthy life.
Now to the third, or first point:  There being little leeway to argue away the above facts, opponents of tax-based, non-profit health care, as opposed to investor-based health care for profit, raise the red flag of future deficits.  But they do not do that when it comes to the costs of war.  Or any other non-life enhancing expenditure.
Beyond that, there seems to be a gentleman's agreement among all parties in congress that comparing the cost of war to that of health care is taboo.
And beyond that, pointing out that we are going to war in order to secure the carbon with which to render the planet inhospitable to humans would be unthinkable.

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