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  • The Obamacare Pep Rally

    We will have a longer point by point fact check of President Barack Obama’s Porstmouth, New Hampshire, health care townhall tomorrow morning, but one talking point Obama made today, and the White House has made before, is that health insurance companies already ration health care so Americans shouldn’t mind if the government does it instead. The Atlantic‘s Megan McArdle dismantled that line of reasoning last night:

    “we already ration health care; we just let the market do the rationing.” This is a true point made by the proponents of health care reform. But I’m not sure why it’s supposed to be so interesting. You could make this statement about any good:

    “We already ration food; we just let the market do the rationing.”
    “We already ration gasoline; we just let the market do the rationing.”
    “We already ration cigarettes; we just let the market do the rationing.”

    And indeed, this was an argument that was made in favor of socialism. (No, okay, I’m not calling you socialists!) And yet, most of us realize that there are huge differences between price rationing and government rationing, and that the latter is usually much worse for everyone. This is one of the things that most puzzles me about the health care debate: statements that would strike almost anyone as stupid in the context of any other good suddenly become dazzling insights when they’re applied to hip replacements and otitis media.

    The rationing is, first of all, simply worse on a practical level: goods rationed by fiat rather than price have a tendency to disappear, decline in quality, etc. Government tends to prefer queues to prices. This makes most people worse off, since their time is worth much more than the price they would pay for the good. Providers of fiat-rationed goods have little incentive to innovate, or even produce adequate supplies. If other sectors are not controlled, the highest quality providers have a tendency to exit. If other sectors are controlled, well, you’re a socialist, and I just agreed not to call you a socialist, because you’re not a socialist.

    But there is also a real difference between having something rationed by a process and having it rationed by a person. That is, in fact, why progressives are so fond of rules. They don’t want to tell grandma to take morphine instead of getting a pacemaker. It’s much nicer if you create a mathematical formula that makes some doctor tell grandma to take morphine instead of getting a pacemaker. Then the doctor can disclaim responsibility too, because after all, no one really has any agency here–we’re all just in the grips of an impersonal force.

    But this won’t do. If you design a formula to deny granny a pacemaker, knowing that this is the intent of the formula, then you’ve killed granny just as surely as if you’d ordered the doctor to do it directly. That’s the intuition behind the conservative resistance to switching from price rationing to fiat rationing. Using the government’s coercive power to decide the price of something, or who ought to get it, is qualitatively different from the same outcome arising out of voluntary actions in the marketplace. Even if you don’t share the value judgement, it’s not irrational, except in the sense that all human decisions have an element of intuition and emotion baked into them.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    21 Responses to The Obamacare Pep Rally

    1. Richard-North Dakota says:

      If you want to seem more intelligent, stay close to stupid people.

    2. Hal Horvath says:

      If you like the current rationing, as it is now — including you and I paying for poor people's medical care in Emergency Rooms via taxes and insurance premiums and foregone pay raises, instead of ultimately paying a lesser amount if they got some primary care visits — raise your hand, or speak up, or write.


      "But there is also a real difference between having something rationed by a process and having it rationed by a person."

      Isn't the idea of rationing from above via an individual bureaucrat or panel, etc., an obvious fabrication?

      If not a fabrication, then there must be precise language to this effect in a proposed bill like HR 3200. Where is it?

      I don't think a political movement that fabricates has a future, because there are too many methods to uncover fabrications.

    3. Roger S., Ma. says:

      Right, right, right… on all counts!

      How come people no longer seem to understand the difference between government supplied choices, which will be always limited by some "Czar's" decision about what he can "afford" to let you chose, and the free market, where your choices are only limited by the ingenuity and creativity of your provider, and your ability to negotiate and pay ?.

      Why doesn't this Kavita Patel come right out to say that the government wants to provide you with an entitlement, which in many cases means nothing other than an unearned service for some which will have to be provided by the extorted sacrifice of those others who did earn it; then name the costs, all of them, including your future lack of choices ?! Would Dr. Patel be so "sloppy" in her medical practice when explaining the pro's, con's, and possible hazards of a medical procedure to her patients?!

      If you entered a store to buy, say, "Mexican jumping beans", and the proprietor told you he didn't have any, but that the chain of "socialist prayer beads" on the shelf over there was really the same thing, wouldn't you consider him "nuts"? Would you spend even another minute in that store?!

      If Congress and the Administration were really serious about curbing certain abuses by medical insurance companies, it could probably be done without the 1000+ pages of HR3200. Probably Medicare and Medicaid could be rid of many abuses, as well, if they wanted to actually expend the time and effort. There would be savings, too: for one, the WH wouldn't have to spend OUR money on one Ms. Patel to "sell" people the "beads" for the "beans". She, on the other hand, could return to earning her keep by doing an honest day's work competing to provide medical care to patients in a free market. And, if after such a day, she then felt that she had enough energy left over to provide the same care for patients who couldn't pay, there would be nobody to stand in her way. Nothing wrong with "pro bono" work, is there?! After all, even lawyers do that, even her "boss" did!

    4. Pingback: » Financial News Update - 08/11/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

    5. Pingback: Having A Rational Discussion About Rationing Is So Hard These Days « Around The Sphere

    6. Pingback: URGENT: MIAMI TOWN HALL MEETING – Senator Bill Nelson 8/13/09 « FactReal

    7. Bobbie Jay says:

      It's the consumer that dictates the need, and the private business owner that provides. Look, Mr. president, NO CORRUPTION or government RATIONING NEEDED!

      You sure are spinning alot. Slow down before you get dizzy.

    8. Grace, Florida says:

      OK here's how I saw it. How can these Democrats say that the Town Hall meeting have been staged? It was clear yesterday that this NH meeting was staged. How come the entire nation is up in arms and this group look like stepford people? Hand picked audience – soft questions and a joke.

    9. charle tallman st. l says:

      socialist ideas, get used to it with this adminstration

    10. william boyer cincin says:

      Perhaps for a time we will be able to keep our own health care plans and the doctor of our choice, but when employers see the opportunity to opt out in favor of the single payer plan Obama can say that he was right, that others let us down.

    11. Gary, Lansdale PA says:

      What they call "market rationing" is, uh, CAPITALISM! Capitalism is the engine of the American economy. Statism is the engine of a socialist or communist economy. Any sane, rational person would observe the results of a statist economy in the train-wrecks that are Cuba and the Soviet Union and turn 180 degrees away from it as quickly as humanly possible. Will these fools in the White House and Congress do so? No…like Deomcrats have been saying for decades, "It'll all work if only the right people are in charge. Trust US, we know how to make it work."

      Unfortunately, one look at Pelosi, Reid, Obama and the rest of this gang of thieves and liars and we can be almost certain that sanity and rationality will not prevail. We, the people, however, MUST!

    12. Al, The Villages, Fl says:

      I watched the townhall that Sen Spector had and then noticed the difference between the townhalls across the country and this one held by President Obama. The feel of the crowd was different as he began and then the first question tipped off that this was a democrat orchestrated event. That's too bad as the president needed to see and hear from his constituents that are clearly troubled by his spending and the healthcare bill. He, again, made statements that were contrary to what people can read in the bill (H.R.3200).

    13. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      How much longer befor obam declares that the USA is to be re-named the SRA-SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF AMERICAM. It wiould a good time top open up a sign shop, think what a booming business you would have. Oh, I forgot that business would then be used to make sure the wealth was shared, just a though on a new business, just be sure you do not become sucessful.

    14. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Next they will ration air! think about it!


    15. candyrose ny says:

      I am one the million americans that has no health insurance by choise. I do NOT want health insurance. Is my life and I don't want to be force to have one.

    16. Cheryl, La Verne, CA says:

      Just another lie from the President. That town hall meeting was a joke! No plants??? Guess again. There were only supporters in that hall – a lottery picked by the Whitehouse. The President with the same answers over and over. We have heard them all a million times. Has anyone asked him if he has read the bill? Does he think we are are “stupid?” Get him to a REAL town hall meeting!

    17. Normca says:

      To Roger: Medical abuses to be controlled by congress. That's funny. Who will curb the abuses by the congress with Barney, Dodd and the gang. There are abuses in every segment of society and much of it is made out of thin air. Why not curb the lawyers abuses first ?

    18. Roger, Thornwood, N says:

      The White House claims tickets for the townhalls held by Pres. Obama are drawn in a White House lottery. Does anyone really think these tickets are not checked by the administration before going into the hopper?

      Why is it that only his townhalls require a drawing done by the White House.

      They think us fools,

    19. Mike, Columbus, Oh says:

      Bottom Line: Government run healthcare has been a total failure everywhere. For those in favor of Government run healthcare:1. Do a little research, the failure of government run healthcare is proven by facts. If you don't want to admit failure of other countries government run health care, then look no further than here at home. The government has solely run medicare and medicaid! Do you honestly think that they have done a great job? The answer is NO. And there is no way they will do better with running healthcare for everyone. 2. If indeed you wish to be under government run healthcare, I suggest you make a temporary move to a country that currently has that program in place. You will be begging to come back home, where you have freedom to chose and the best medical care in the world!

    20. Mike, Columbus, Oh says:

      And one more thing: If this healthcare they propose is so great, then why won't they agree to the exact same healthcare they will give us? Answer: Because it will not provide a level of medical care even close to what we can have now!

    21. Jerry from Chicago says:

      If health care is a right, does it go far enough? Aren't other necessities more import 'rights'? After all, you only need health care if you are sick or hurt. Food and shelter you need every day.

      If the government health care plan cover is going to cover prescriptions, shouldn't it cover groceries and housing? What's the prescription for malnutrition and hunger? Groceries, of course. And what's the prescription for homelessness? A home, of course.

      Is it fair that some people have these things while others who do not? Is it fair for some people to have anything, if others do not? Putting aside, for a moment, the arguement that those who have things earned them, deal only with the question, is it fair. If you believe that it is inherintly unfair for one person to have something, if everyone else doesn't, then you are a true communist. My suggestion for those who feel that way is to find themselves a communist country and move there.

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