Friday, January 8, 2010


First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes health care in a baby carriage

Back in BCT (Big Coldtown) for the holidays, EO perused the local newspaper. Call it the BCT News.

Mostly, EO likes to read the sports pages. Sports are controversial only within narrow boundaries. Who will win the BCS game? The Alabama Crimson Tide or the Texas Longhorns?

Roll, Tide, Roll. Sorry Longhorns fans.
You get to find out right away. Simple.

Alabama fans. Simple. Happy.
Not so with political and social problems. Years and decades go by before we get to compare results with predictions. Cause and effect are hard to diagnose, and so varied and complex that no immediate solutions suggest themselves, even if the diagnosis is spot on.

Reading an opinion piece in the BCT News, my head started spinning. The angry white Democratic newspaper columnist spent 10 sputtering column inches denouncing Republicans and telling Democrats how to win the fall elections, despite the growing unrest over health care reform.

Suggested talking points for Democrats were that
  1. a Western European health care system will make us more civilized and humane,
  2. anyone opposed to Obamacare is a heartless swine, intent on stiffing the poor,
  3. it won't bust the budget, because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says it will be paid for with new taxes and lots of cost savings, and
  4. Republicans are hypocrites, because the Medicare prescription plan Bush II gave us in 2003 is in the red.

Typical Republicans rushing to oppose health care reform.

Some people who oppose the new health care legislation may be heartless barbarian swine, intent on oppressing the poor and wallowing in their hypocrisy, but not all fit the bill. None of the mud slung in the column actually addressed the facts. All the mud was just ad hominem ("against the person," not the argument). When someone resorts to ad hominem attack, it always means his logical arguments are not so good.

Here are a few reasons I oppose Obamacare. Actually, it should be called Reid/Pelosi Care (RP Care), since Obama had a comparatively minor role in creating the legislation. I will therefore give the program's actual authors their due.

Proud Parents of health care reform.
(Picture link)

Reason #1: I oppose RP Care because it is a huge expansion of Medicare/Medicaid, a system that has already metastasized wildly beyond all CBO predictions and threatens to bankrupt us.

Reason #2: I oppose RP Care because the federal government has shown no capacity for running a responsible health care insurance program. I don't believe it will suddenly gain that competence.

Doesn't matter if the government is Republican or Democrat, politicians are bad at health care and worse at health care insurance. President Johnson proved it first, and every administration since then has confirmed it, culminating with President Bush's 2003 expansion of Medicare prescription coverage, which is hemorrhaging debt as we speak.

This is not to say politicians don't mean well. They often do. They are just bad at health care and health care insurance.

Reason #3: I oppose RP Care because the promised cost savings are the same pious nonsense every new federal program claims in order to pass CBO's scoring system and not blow the budget. These cost savings are always based on eliminating "waste, fraud and abuse" and "controlling costs." This hasn't happened for 40 years, under Medicare/Medicaid. Quite the contrary, every decade we are "shocked, shocked," to find Medicare/Medicaid costs outstripping even our most outlandish predictions.

Now, suddenly, cost control will happen miraculously for RP Care, a much larger and more complex program than Medicare/Medicaid, because the bill says so.

"So let it be written, so let it be done." Pharoah, ca. 1500 B.C. Pigs flying, hippos dancing the mambo.

"I believe I can fly."
The hyena will lie down with the lamb.

And will eat it.

Reason #4: I oppose RP Care because it will continue to inflate health care costs faster than the average rate of inflation (see "No We Can't" for more on this). This has happened for 4 decades with Medicare/Medicaid, under Republicans, under Democrats. If aliens from Neptune ruled, it would be the same result.

The Ood decide to subsidize health care.

If the government puts a trillion more subsidy dollars into health care, why wouldn't the rate of medical inflation continue to exceed ordinary inflation? RP Care is an "answer" that actually worsens the problem, like getting another credit card to pay off the first one. Eventually that little scheme always has an ugly end.

We already subsidize health care for the poor. That's called Medicare. It's broke. Now we are going to subsidize the middle class. A lot more people in the middle class, my friends. Not gonna work.

Reason # 5: I oppose RP Care because we just got to see a lesson on federal subsidies gone wild. Remember the housing market, into which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac injected steroids by making a market for sub-prime loans? All in the name of benefiting the poor? Did that inflate the cost of housing beyond the ordinary rate of inflation? Did that just blow up in our faces? Yes and yes. Ditto RP Care.

Results of sub-prime fusion experiments.
Reason #6: I oppose RP Care because, based on our 40 years of experience with Medicare/Medicaid, the costs of RP Care will fast out-strip our ability and willingness to pay. It will put us in such a hole that the only way out will be to completely nationalize health care.

Reason #7: I oppose RP Care because we already know what nationalized health care will look like: VA and Military hospitals. Ever been in one? I have. I've had to spend years of my life wrestling with the inadequacies of health care in both settings. Perfectly fine people work there, but combine the efficiency of FEMA and the nurturing skills of the IRS and you get the picture.

Check out how the federal government takes care of its war heroes. Then ask whether the new Health Assurance and Hospital Administration (HAHA) will take better or worse care of the average schmo, like you or me.

Reason #8: I oppose RP Care because we just tore a bigger hole in the federal budget last year, buying up banks and auto companies, than we did for 8 years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Whether the trillion dollars in new debt to finance the bail outs was necessary or not, I say clean up the existing credit card before signing on for a new one. (Check out the cool debt clock!)

* * *

So there you have it. Not everyone opposes RP Care because they are barbarian swine hypocrites intent on oppressing the poor.

Conan the Barbarian about to oppress the poor.

Some people actually think it will be bad for America.


  1. One in a million! Something we agree on! (mostly). After working for a doctor and dealing with claims, it dawned on me that public insurance would most likely hemorrhage money no matter how well managed (and of course, it's not) because it does something that private insurance doesn't have to do, and avoids doing by any means possible -- it PAYS the provider the fee stipulated by the terms of coverage.
    While I think public insurance coverage sucks, it's pretty up front about what is and isn't covered. Not everyone bothers to RTFM, but when you do, it's all there in black and white.
    Kill 'em all, I say. Put an end to health care insurance, period. Like labor unions, it has metastasized to become worse than the ills it was meant to cure.

  2. I'll take it! Even though I suspect you were under the hypnotic spell of that picture of Conan the Barbarian.