Friday, 02 October 2009 00:00
Two letters appearing in the Manhasset Press on Sept. 24 contend that insufficient regulation is to blame for problems with the economy and in our health care system. One writer claims, “It wasn’t social policies that led to our current deficits.” The other thinks, “We need more regulation to protect patient’s rights.” Both take swipes at war expenditures, favor more socialism and seem dismissive of free market capitalism. With respect, I don’t agree.
We are far from truly free markets in any segment of our economy and overly regulated in most endeavors. The recent financial market meltdown wasn’t a failure of capitalism. The root cause was a social program to boost home ownership. Government regulators, empowered by the Community Reinvestment Act and backed up by government sponsored enterprises “Freddie & Fannie,” drove bankers to make risky loans to the “underserved.” Those sub-prime mortgages are the toxins that infected the system. They came about to satisfy the demands of the regulators. No genuine capitalist would make loans of such dubious value until the federal government intruded under the banner of social justice.
As for our record deficits consider this. About 60 percent of the $3 trillion federal budget is for social programs. Entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid represent ever-expanding commitments far into the future. Social spending dwarfs defense expenditure. Check these facts and then do the math.
The Congressional Research Service reported in May of this year that the total of all war appropriations during the Bush years FY 2001 through FY 2009 comes to $864 billion. That amount covered both Afghanistan and Iraq for all military operations as well as base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy cost and even veterans’ health care.
The accumulated expenditure to prosecute both wars from their inception is less than half the social spending in this single year alone. It’s about 7 percent of the current national debt, which will soon surpass $12 trillion. That’s just a rounding error to the beneficent leaders in this Land of Oz who now propose yet another social entitlement in the form of universal health care!
Only an all-powerful wizard could extend generous coverage to many more millions of people without rationing services or increasing costs. But never mind the cost. According to socialist belief, health care is a “right” that should be provided for by the government. How about food, clothing and shelter as well? Whoops, sorry about that, we already tackled the shelter thing (see financial crisis above.)
The president says his plan to make all people buy healthcare insurance is no different than requiring them to buy auto insurance. That’s the spiel of a used-car salesman with a lot full of clunkers. There are great differences. Auto insurance applies only to owning or operating a vehicle, which requires liability coverage for property damage or bodily injury you may inflict on someone else. Does your health insurance work like that? If so, you better hope your little Johnny doesn’t sneeze on any of his classmates in school.
Most health care shouldn’t be financed by “insurance,” but as part of the family budget just like groceries and utilities or furniture and appliances. Prudent people can prioritize their needs and pay for whatever is within their means. Of course if funds are limited, some may have to do without another aromatherapy session or the latest i-Phone. And if little Johnny still has a runny nose, try some chicken soup and a vaporizer.
Instead, this administration wants more power for the federal government to control our lives. Every version of ObamaCare amounts to the same thing - government mandated coverage that all citizens must buy, subject to penalty for failure to do so. That’s not a “right”; that’s a diktat.
The writer who advised Ms. Guddat to relax (i.e.: accept the inevitable) said this: “History shows that whatever the initial apprehension about a new social program, a generation later it is widely accepted.” That statement inadvertently reveals the insidious nature of creeping socialism already here in America. It envelops us in a warm glow while draining away the spirit of what was once a dynamic and proudly self-reliant populace. Programs like Social Security became an accepted part of everyday life and can’t be extracted without disastrous complications. So like a cancer patient whose treatment is limited to isolating the tumor, we learn to live with the disease and manage the pain. But let’s not add to the stultifying effects of this malignancy by injecting more socialism into the system.
When the choice is between free enterprise capitalism and state-controlled socialism, take heed of this classic insight from Winston Churchill: ”The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
A. Scott Wilson