Welcome to Reality

I never really thought of myself as evil.  Naughty, maybe, but not evil.  Imagine my surprise when I saw in the paper that without undue strain, I could be called an “evil-monger.”  First, let me disclose that I have never disrupted (or even attended) a town meeting, nor have I organized a tea party.  I have, however, written against the health care plan under consideration in Congress.  For voicing that opinion, I am apparently evil.

I am sure most of the people who agree with me share my indifference to the anointed who are now in an apoplectic rage.  I don’t give a rat’s posterior what they think.  It is, however, a real insight into human nature to note how pathetic is their defense of what I consider to be a harebrained idea.  Even more interesting is the flanking strategy that is evolving from the recent repudiation of their offensive.

On Sunday, the Obama Administration went so far as to allow that the government need not necessarily be part of health care reform.  Apparently, reality gave them a sound smack in the back of the head.  Many Americans, most of them quite sensible and not given to shouting at meetings, realize that government involvement in health care is the problem, not the solution.

Forgive me if I indulge in more evil-doing now.  I am not relieved.  I suppose I should be–it is not a government plan, or is it?  We don’t know for sure yet, but dollars to doughnuts cooperatives will in the end serve the same purpose–to drive private insurers out of business to make way for a single-payer system.

John Mackey of Whole Foods wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal the other day.  Smart fellow, him, since his points were quite similar to the ones I posted a week or so ago.  For suggesting that numerous free-market solutions were preferable to a government plan, Mackey has been excoriated by the left.  They are, of course, free to boycott Whole Foods or any other business they see fit.  I find it all quite pathetic, though.  Isn’t that just a bit like shouting?

Which brings me back to my original theme–reality.  If we are to embark upon this massive change, let’s lay it all out on both sides.  Let one side explain (minus the shouting) how unleashing the forces of the free market can benefit everyone, including those who suffer through no fault of their own.  Let the other side explain (without calling others “evil-mongers”) why they think their system will work to do the same, without ignoring the question of how to pay for it over the long run.

Our choice in this matter is up to us.  The result of our choice is not.  Reality is deaf to our pejoratives.  It will decide what system works without bias.  Let’s choose wisely, eyes wide open, politely.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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4 Responses to Welcome to Reality

  1. Sally Lacy says:

    First of all, let me say that I LOVE horses. However, I have never been one to step away from (figuratively, of course) beating a dead one. Lets agree or agree to disagree that you’re evil and I’m pathetic.

    Now, with the name calling behind us, as I understand it, the four pillars of health care reform include 1) dropping the “pre’existing” restrictions of policies 2) opening up availability of affordable health care to a wider, currently non-insured audience, primarily including small business owners and their employees who do not have a health care option available to them through their work place 3) (gasp!) a public OPTION for affordable health care (just in case the current options are a little too pricey for your pocketbook) and 4) an increased focus on preventive health care.

    Seems to me like the almost (I’m being generous here) sole focus on the third element is primarily in response to a fear that a public option will disrupt BUSINESS as usual. (could that be why one upcoming barrage of commercials opposing reform will be sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce?)

    No doubt, it will be a huge, scary change for many people in the insurance business. But isn’t their BUSINESS about providing health care, should someone fall ill? They have failed to adequately do this, often by (refer to element #1) refusing to insure people who are not in picture perfect health, denying claims, and/or dropping clients when they do become ill.

    To me, it seems to come down to whether you prioritize the needs of business or the needs of the society. Neither perspective is inherently evil. Business prioritizers are not necessarily cold hearted jerks and society prioritizers are not necessarily bleeding heart liberals. But the job that the health care business purports to do IS NOT GETTING DONE! There are a lot of interesting options being bandied about (cooperatives, higher deductibles such as practiced by Whole Foods, state rather than federal run programs [just don’t plan on moving or getting sick on vacation] …) but as with so many other aspects of our current national status, we let it build to the point of a crisis.

    For the first time in 20 years, most of my family is no longer sweating the insurance issue personally, thanks to my husband’s move to a federal job after years of running a small business. Health insurance costs sunk us. That is it in a nutshell. We watched our premiums surpass our mortgage. And that’s after one family member could finally get insurance after a 10 year exile because he dared get cancer at a young age.

    Today, this issue is not personal for us. We are wonderfully insured, (well, except for the one recalcitrant daughter who dared pass the 21 year old age requirement for VA insurance. She is eligible for affordable, crappy college insurance as soon as her grad school semester starts in the fall. Really rotten luck that she required blood tests and x-rays in the 26 day lapse between her previous crappy college insurance and her next policy which starts Aug 24. And shoot, there’s another pre-existing!) Though the rest of us (son, is there some way you could manage not to turn 21 come November?) enjoy insurance at the moment,the path here has been a nightmare. My full sympathies to the 50 million or so of you out there who continue to swim in these noxious waters.

    Sorry to ramble on so. (I’m actually showing considerable restraint, considering the many directions I could go with this… For example, seems like the business proponents are totally overlooking the impact of lack of health care on inhibiting growth of small businesses, not to mention the impact of health related bankruptcies curtailing the spending and borrowing habits of it’s victims…. and don’t get me started on the “let capitalism do its thing and all will self correct”-this is not a true capitalistic situation. Like I said, I can surely beat the dead horse, and I don’t think this one’s done for just yet.

    I enjoy your blog Terry. Always gives me something to think about. –Sally


    • Terry Noel says:

      Glad you enjoy it, Sally! Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think the perception that business and society are at odds is common. I also think that this is largely caused by distortions in the market caused by government and business in cahoots rather than business alone. There is every incentive for insurance companies to provide policies that cover most of the cases we worry about. There is also an incentive to provide “side” policies such as insurance against pre-existing conditions.

      No one, least of all me, thinks that the free market will cover everyone who ever gets sick in the way everyone thinks it should. What it will do is separate the cases that genuinely are in need from the ones that can be cured by voluntary arrangements with other people. I would much rather contribute to a fund that helps the truly indigent than to cough up tax money to support a system that has no chance of surviving more than a few years.

      In the end, Sally, we want the same thing. We both want people to be able to get the kind of medical attention they need. I just want it to come voluntarily, through market forces or charity. Medical care requires the contributions of thousands of people to create something as simple as a band-aid. The miraculous medicine we now have available is due to a wonderful concatenation of people working for (yes) profit. Government involvement will eventually choke out any incentive for them to continue to create those cures. I don’t want to live in a world that brings medical care down to its lowest common denominator in the name of justice.

      Keep those comments coming. I enjoy thinking these things through.


  2. Sally Lacy says:

    Somebody recently wrote on my wall that great minds think alike. Not wanting to be a killjoy, I didn’t add what immediately came to mind — but what I was thinking was that we probably recognize the genius of like-minded folk because we’re all narcissists at heart. Good to have a spirited, thoughtful discussion with someone who challenges me to put my thoughts and feelings into, hopefully, coherent words. Man, I can ramble though.


  3. Terry Noel says:

    Ramble on, Sally, ramble on!


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