Watching the adoption of the Democrat’s health care program is akin to witnessing the proverbial train wreck in slow motion. Whether one is a liberal, conservative or moderate, it is baffling to me that any citizen as this point in American history would support any such program.
Since the end of the nineteenth century we have witnessed program after program evolve along the exact same path. The first income tax (not including the temporary Civil War tax and its failed successor) was proposed by President Taft. The tax was 1% with the top bracket of 7%. Today, its evolved to almost every state, and combined brackets can easily exceed 50% on both corporations and individuals. The appetite to collect is so insatiable, as part of the health care reform, 16,500 additional enforcers will join the ranks of IRS. Without reciting the litany of ever-expanding government programs, I would challenge any reader of this blog to offer up a federal program that has a) maintained a sustainable/controllable budget and b) demonstrated positive results relative to the programs original goals and the dollars expended. I submit it cannot be done. Yet, every twenty years or so, American’s elect politicians who swear to fix a seemingly intractable problem and another horse is added to spending carousel.
If the above were not enough to give one pause, let’s consider the entirely new ground which reform is breaking . In the past, programs of this nature did not cross the line between public and private sector employment and pricing. Income tax is levied by the government and collected by government employees. Public education dollars are likewise collected by government and distributed via government administrators and teachers. The same holds true for public safety employees, those who handle Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Aid to Dependent Children and the like. Most of us are forced to contribute to these programs but government employees are the ones who actually deliver the service. Physicians had the right to accept or reject Medicare participation.
Not so with health care. Unlike the job of policeman, school teacher, or welfare case worker, the employees of our health service sector are mostly private sector individuals. They include physicians, nurses, pharmaceutical industry employees, insurance employees and hospital workers and shareholders of these companies. Yet, in order for Obama and the Democrats program to succeed, the labor of these private sector employees will have to be regulated in some fashion. If a person chooses to become a cop or a school teacher, they enter into such service knowing they are public servants and generally accepting of the method by which they earn their salary. We have a right to their services because they chose to, and literally do, work for us.
A health care employee entered into no such agreement. While our heartstrings may tell us everyone deserves health care, the hard truth is there is no health care without private-sector individuals willing to provide such service at a wage or fee they negotiate freely. Again, taking out the emotional argument that cancer treatment is more important than hiring a plumber, the reality is that almost any person who advocates health care workers being under the payment thumb of government would not agree to the same such interference in their own lives. I have no more right to the services of a plumber or an artist than I do a doctor; nor do I have a right to dictate their fee schedule, wage rate, or profit margin.
It is bothersome, as one reads letters-to-the-editor, internet discussion boards, and even Facebook comments, to realize just how many people miss this point and shrug off health care reform with such platitudes as “no one should go without access to a doctor”. At no other time in our history have Americans been willing to accept such a level of interference in the mechanism of the work force.
But it shouldn’t surprise us. American’s don’t care about their own individual freedoms these days, so why should they care about your freedom if, for example, you choose to be emergency room nurse? Because more of us don’t smoke than do, we think it noble to ban smoking in privately owned restaurants and stores. We don’t complain when our mayors, like Mr. Bloomberg in New York, decide we no longer need “trans fats” or, as they are now attempting in the Big Apple—salt.
If we read a news snippet about some poor kid who gets suspended for bringing an empty shot gun shell he picked up at the circus to school, or the two girls in Birmingham, AL suspended for sharing Altoids, we find the offending teachers still in place and the administrators who set such policies keeping their jobs. We want to control the color of our neighbors house as well as what kind of vehicle he parks in his driveway. The trees on my property belong not to me, but the town in which I live once they attain a certain size.
No, I shouldn’t be surprised that Americans will stand idly by and join Europe in the long lines and onerous tax rates so we can all replace one bad system with one even worse and destined to grow beyond all recognition.
But I can be disappointed.