When Wishes Come True

The health care bill passed the House last night.  From a country that risked occasional dalliances with socialism, we have become one that embraces its core principles warmly.  As test pilots used to say after a colossal mistake, we have screwed the pooch.

If, like me, you have steadfastly opposed this debacle, take heart.  While the world crumbles economically, you and I can survive, though it will take every ounce of discipline and fortitude we can muster.  Here are some things to watch for.

1) Private insurers, the whipping boys of the current administration, will soon all but disappear.  A trip to the doctor will become like a trip to the post office.  Need I say more?

2) Doctors will suffer, lawyers will prosper, and patients will take a back seat in the health care process.  (Actually, they may be hanging on to the bumper.)

3) In about ten years, maybe sooner, the costs of this program will explode, requiring massive tax increases.  As a result, productivity in this country will plummet.  Widespread poverty, the likes of which has not been seen in decades, will resurface.

4) Sensing that doctors are about to bolt from the system in favor of cash-only practices, the government will implement a single-payer plan.  At that point, private medical practice will essentially be illegal.

Now, what can we do to survive this?  First, get your financial house in order.  I do not render specific financial advice, but there are plenty of people out there who do.  Learn all you can possibly learn about personal finance.  It is going to get rough, and only the smart will survive.

Second, do all you can to learn and spread the word about limited-government thought.  When the Big Crash comes, we as a nation will face the most important decision in our history–whether to allow a totalitarian government to sweep in and “rescue” us or to return to the principles of individualism and freedom that our Founders so wisely gave us.

Third, start making your home a place in which you can survive for a few weeks without outside contact.  Canned goods, potable water, and first-aid supplies are a grand idea.  And don’t forget the generator.

A couple of watershed events will signal an impending collapse.  Though I hope beyond hope that we never get there, they will justify civil disobedience.  One is the outlawing of private medical practice.  When citizens are barred from contracting privately with doctors to cure what ails them, it constitutes a direct assault on one’s person.  No one who calls him/herself a human being need obey such a law.

Another signal will be the confiscation of gold and/or silver.  Precious metals, and perhaps land and other tangible assets, will prove to be the only stable form of wealth left when our fiat currency crashes.  If the government tries to confiscate it, they will have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are no longer our legitimate representatives, but petty thugs.  Free men and women do not answer to thugs.

For my good friends who are for this bill, I still hold you fondly in my heart.  Today’s blog is energetic and pointed for good reason.  You have gotten what you wished for, and though I believe you did so with the best of intentions, you have helped usher in a calamity.  Please, please get ready for it.  America will need good people like you to help rebuild.

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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15 Responses to When Wishes Come True

  1. Liz says:

    One of the things I have noticed about you logical people is that you are … logical. Don’t underestimate the ship of state’s inability to turn so quickly, or for citizens to eventually wake up to consequences they do not like and change things. It is a race between the two (turning ships and awakening)that we will need to watch.

    Time and again, logic is shown most effective for evaluating and planning, and emotion best to create change. I say, look out for emotion manipulators.

    If you truly believe we are inevitably headed to cans/potable water and silver hoarding – please make yourself part of a solution, and not wash your hands of the repositioning/rebuilding you see so desperately needed in the future.

    We need logic to get the emotions roiling.


    • Terry Noel says:

      I shall indeed, Liz. As for me, I plan to help people understand why individual liberty makes all of us better off, including the less fortunate. I wish I shared your optimism about the ship of state turning back in the right direction. Among those in power, there is no right direction at present–on either side of the aisle. If I am proven wrong, count me among those who will cheer. If I am proven right, none of us will have much to cheer about. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


  2. One of the tenets Nicholas Taleb has written about continuously is that complexity is chaotic, unpredictable, and unmanageable. Your crystal ball gazing is at best rankly speculative, but let me add these observations:

    Private insurers who no longer wish to insure against risk should not be allowed to be insurers. Insurance is premised on the notion of distributed risk. Insurance companies now seek to reduce risk to zero through cherry picking in the risk pool. In other words they are seeking to have no risk yet remain an insurer of risk. And that is what they are doing in cases like Ian Pearl (http://www.thealbanyproject.com/diary/7547/ians-law-a-look-at-a-key-piece-of-health-care-reform-legislation) In his case since Guardian Life Insurance could not deny him coverage for MS, they tried to deny it to an entire class of covered individuals–all MS patients. This is not the invisible fucking hand working unless it the one with the greedy CEO’s fist inside it.

    2. You assume that if there are problems they will be horrific, intractible, and unfixable. If you posit that only perfect change is allowed, then you assume that the state quo is perfectable. I am pretty sure that it is not. And the direction that “health” (I gag at even calling it that since preventive health care actually costs me in my insurance plan) insurance is headed as it ramps up the volume of pre-existing conditions that could exclude you from coverage, seems to indicate that if anything consumers are under seige more every day from the rapacious

    3. Republicans voted no in the House yesterday and justified it by saying health care reform is a burden. A burden. A white man’s burden. Let them eat emergency rooms. That is the cry from the party of ‘devil take the hindmost.’ Economic progress follows health, but if you think that keeping every last dollar you “earn” is the rule of the day perhaps we need to redefine the conditions under which you think you earn that dollar.

    Who defines the limits of government in our society? We do. When an animal is eating you alive, any help is appreciated. Insurance companies are eating us alive. Unions, appeals to fairness and reason, the common good, nothing works against the mantra of the quarterly bottom line. Even Adam Smith’s invisible hand was attached to an ethical arm. So what can we do, knuckle under to the needs of the corporation or something else. I think people have voted for something else and if that doesn’t work then they will vote for something else.

    I will not be buying six months of canned goods or more ammo or gold or any of the other survivalist advice you give here. Our economic “collapse” (if it really is happening) is due in part to corporatist financial system that you seem to extol. These mega-entrepreneurs have led us to the brink with their innovative financial instruments through a series of bubbles that now seem to have resulted in a final bubble–the financial bailout bubble– which they are in turn gaming while the ship is sinking.

    The government you declaim against made this website possible through the creation of DARPA in the sixties. Would we undo all the pure research that government has pursued over the years? Will you be taking a swine flu shot from this government?

    Should we do away with Interstate Highways, state highways, and return to privately funded turnpikes? If I am in my gated community and tele-commuting, I don’t need those roads. I don’t use the roads, why should I have to pay for them?

    Should we close libraries? They are socialist entities of the most pure form imaginable. Everyone pays, but only readers benefit. How fair is that?

    And fire protections? My odds for having a fire are nil, so why should I pay for fire or police or health departments or Centers for Disease Control?

    Just read John Donne’s poem a second time. The answer is there. This post is made from fear toward fear. It resonates with fear. I repudiate it, but not the messenger. We are a nation that had dealt with difficulties that were a far greater threat to our existence than these. I believe in our capacity as a people as long as we do not withdraw from engaging the problem as it arises.

    If your doomsday scenario plays out, I will not be hunkering down for the apocalypse. I will be out there working with my friends and neighbors and any who will work with me to ameliorate pain and difficulty. It is the only Christian thing to do. To quote John Donne,a poem every liberally educated human being needs to remember:

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manner of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.


    • Terry, the capitalism vs. socialism debate, for me, comes down to the option to use force. As a capitalist (that is, as someone who produces wealth vs. angling for my piece of the redistributed pie), I can try to persuade you to buy what I am selling, I can even pressure you via economic power, but I can’t put a gun to your head and make you buy. Socialism has a gun. Socialists can put me in jail if I don’t do what they say. (You say that “Private insurers who no longer wish to insure should not be allowed to insure.” How else would you enforce this but at the end of a gun?)

      Per your comments that government creates the environment that allows to earn – of course – that’s what government is for. Of course we have to pay government something to build the roads, maintain armies and carry out other functions that assure our collective safety and the common good. But redistributing income among individuals is very different than this. That is theft, high-minded though it be.

      Do I think I should help the poor and downtrodden? You bet. That’s why I give 10% of my earnings to charity. But I get to choose which charities, because I believe that some help people lift themselves up whereas others (primarily those run by governent) tend to foster dependency. And the funny thing is that people with my libertarian/conservative views overwhelmingly out-give those with socialist/liberal views – which kind of undercuts the compassion argument for socialism.

      The real roots of socialism appear to be plain old envy and a belief that equality trumps liberty. The liberal mantra is, basically, that capitalists are better off than socialists and that’s just not fair, because we should all be equal. And since socialists are much to pure to dirty their hands by competing in the market, they just take what they want from those who do. After all, capitalists will always make more.

      And that is why socialism is fundamentally untenable. Because when you keep confiscating our earnings to give them to people who don’t earn, you remove our incentive to produce. And when we stop creating wealth, socialists will have nothing left to redistribute. It really is that simple. Look at the abysmal productivity of a socialist state like France. All they have left are a few slivers of the golden egg to divide up because the long ago killed the goose.

      Beyond money, what is really frightening about socialism is the way it steals personal liberty and makes people into sheep. You trade liberty for security. I find that very, very sad and depressing. Un-American, really, in the sense that a willingness to embrace risk, to try new things, to fail and start again are fundamental to who we are.

      But, the sad fact is that people who embrace risk, those who produce more than they consume, individuals who create and innovate, people who love liberty more than security – they are in the minority. There will always be more people who want to take instead of earn, who want to be taken care of. Because of this demographic truth, consumers will always be able to vote themselves the fruits of producers’ labor – which is why this country has steadily become more socialist the longer it stays around. Though there may be blips of freedom, the historic trend is to socialism.


  3. Terry Noel says:

    Much as I think of you otherwise, you are misguided in the extreme on this issue. The solutions I advocate involve individual freedom. Insurers should be free to insure whom they please for whatever reason they please. Doctors should be able to treat whom they wish for whatever reason they wish. Patients should be free to seek whatever medical treatment someone else is willing to provide for the value they offer (including charity, if the giver so desires). In short, no one should be coerced, directly or indirectly, to provide anything for anyone.

    The animal that is eating you alive is not the result of a profit motive. It is the result of profit-seekers in bed with the political class–crony capitalism. None of the solutions I have ever advocated include a defense of those people.

    Further, the “public goods” arguments you raise suffer from a similar misunderstanding. Most, if not all, of these goods can be provided under free market capitalism. They are not, and as participants in the tax system that funded them, citizens have every right to read library books (assuming they do not steal them), drive on public roads, and watch Big Bird on TV. None of these so far have threatened to bankrupt the system. Health care will.

    When the system breaks, you will be hard-pressed to help anyone significantly. Other than giving someone a warm blanket and maybe an aspirin (if there are any left), you will find yourself utterly without the services of the people who make healing possible. Why? Because they finally realized that after taking the time and effort to acquire those skills and knowledge, the rest of the world thought that the resulting services were theirs for the taking. Donne aside, being a part of humanity does not include being a slave to it.

    Perhaps ten years from now, we will be able to hoist a glass and laugh at my former paranoia. I doubt it, though. I think it more likely that we will be on the brink of a New Dark Age, with some deadly important decisions to make.


    • T R Reid is the guy you are thinking about. I hardly think I am on the extreme here, Liz, or were you referring to someone else. There is no free market in insurance. None. That is the nature of capitalism in extremis–to seek monopoly.

      I am for universal coverage and failing that a legit public option that anyone can choose as an alternative to their existing policy. Isn’t that what you are for too, Liz? I don’t have any illusions of perfection here.


  4. Liz says:

    I still think both of you two are at far extremes. There is much to be said for Pooh’s method of muddling through.

    I have lived and given birth in the land of socialized medicine where it worked and did not eat up all of free choice, and … It was great!! I also have Canadian friends who live where it does NOT work.

    There is a book by a guy (NPR type) who traveled around the world examining healthcare, and while it seemed economically naïve, he had many good points. Perhaps for both of you to get from library?

    Anyway, this effort will never get through Senate w/anything substantive in it. So, let’s start drinking now; think of the antioxidants!


    • Putting Donne aside might be mean putting humanity aside in favor of pure capitalism–something that has never been and will never be. To wish it so is be un-Donne.


    • I know too many people for whom muddling through means emergency room insurance. Talk about inefficiency.


      • Terry Noel says:

        This is a common misconception of capitalism, and that it prevails is one reason, in my view, that the debate is off-the-mark. In a true free market, coercive monopolies literally do not exist because customers cannot be forced to buy from a particular provider. Governmental regulations and subsidies enable monopolists by making it hard (or illegal) to compete. Rather than separate us, capitalism allows us to trade value for value voluntarily. In other words, we have every reason to be good to one another when we trade freely. When coerced, however, the great driver of human action becomes influence rather than genuine value. There is every incentive to seek coercive power rather than make ourselves truly more valuable to others.


  5. Terry Noel says:

    Hmmmm…I kind of figured it would fly through the Senate. Perhaps I am wrong. If muddling through prevents a disaster, I will reread some Pooh. A non-calamitous outcome that falls short of my ideals beats what just passed the House. We shall see…


  6. oops my comments got wopperjawed, transpose and move on I suppose. 😉


  7. Liz says:

    Terry, I think I may have mistaken your passion for extreme views. Insurance available for all, yes. Choice of insurer, yes. The main thing I hope to see one day is a decoupling of insurance from employers. The health insurance industry is due for a reorganization; it worked to be tied to employers a long time ago, if it ever did. Statistically, something like 85% of people are happy with their insurance, including the medicare folks, so popular change to insurance is difficult, Donne notwithstanding. He doesn’t motivate like fear of uncertainty. There are more than one insurer available in some countries where it is not tied to employer. Complicated.


  8. Terry Noel says:

    Yes, Liz, I think it is complicated. In my view, free markets are the best way to sort out those complications. I appreciate your thoughts, by the way. Keep them coming.


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