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“I’m from the Government and I’m Here to Dictate”

June 5, 2009

A year ago, if the French Cowboy had told you that a panel of ‘experts’, hand-picked by the president, will be dictating the type of cars American automakers have to produce and through which dealerships to sell them and through which not and that a government official, chosen by the president and accountable to the Secretary of the Treasury, will be in charge of setting the salaries of financial firms, would you have believed it? Would you have believed that “the United States government will stand behind your [auto] warranty”? Or that there will be a tax on “bad behaviour” as defined by a category of people who believe throwing away perfectly good doughnuts that have been donated to a soup kitchen is the right thing to do?

If this folly continues, another year from now the government in Washington will be responsible for your health care as well. A health czar and his team of ‘experts’ will calculate how many medical checkups you and your children are worth and what types of treatments ‘society’ can afford allowing you should you fall ill. It won’t be you deciding how much you take out of your wallet for health care and what type of health care you want to have. The government will tell you how much money you will have to throw into a collective fund (that actually consists of debts) which is supposed to pay for each and every Americans’ medical treatment. In the same manner government will decide what type of treatment you will receive at ‘taxpayers’ expenses’.

Usually, in order to point out how absurd such a health care system is, the French Cowboy would compare it to a situation in which you don’t get to chose your own car and how much you pay for it but bureaucrats will tell you which car you have to buy and how much it will cost you. But this comparison doesn’t work here because that’s pretty much what is going to be the case with the American auto market. You won’t be able to pay good money for a gas-guzzling SUV with room enough for your four kids, your granny, your two dogs, your fishing equipment, and your Burger King lunch. You will have to chose among a selection of unsafe cup-holders on wheels that have two engines built in and will therefore cost double the price of what you might have been willing to pay for it. But at least you won’t have to worry about your burgers because you won’t be able to afford them thanks to the tax on salt and other ‘unhealthy’ food.

When you try to regulate markets you always, always end up with long waiting lines or – as will be the case in the auto industry – piles of commodities nobody wants while those who produce them receive artificially high wages for doing something they shouldn’t be doing in the first place. In the case of health care expect waiting lines. Everyone will pay an amount of money for health coverage that will be independent of their actual need for it, but determined by their income level. So everyone will try to adjust where they can: either cheat with their disclosure of income, which would be illegal, or accept each and every medical treatment simply on the basis that you have already paid a fixed sum so you might at least maximise what you can get for it. And of course there will be rationing and a decline in quality. You or a loved one will be sick and there will be no way of getting high-quality treatment even if you are willing to pay for it. Doctors and nurses will be overwhelmed with work they will not be adequately paid for. Why do I think so?, you ask. Because I have seen it. In Europe.

Do not open the door for government in the health care sector. Already Medicare and Medicaid have been extended far beyond their original purposes – and already they are unsustainable. The Obama administration argues that in order to get federal medical expenses under control, government has to become a player on the entire health care market. That kind of logic makes your brain hurt. President Obama has already taken control over large parts of the financial sector and over GM and Chrysler. Don’t let it happen to the health care sector as well. But Obama has no interest in running companies, you say? He has as little interest in running private companies as your mother-in-law has in running your family. It’s only temporary, you say? The government poking its nose in the private sector is as temporary as your good-for-nothin’ cousin moving in ‘for a few weeks’ so he can look for a job in your town. The difference is: you might want to give your family members the benefit of the doubt. But you shouldn’t behave like a Charlie Brown believing that this time Lucy will let you kick the football because your president is so eloquent and charming.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2009 23:44

    Thanks for writing,I really enjoyed your newest post.I think you should post more frequently,you obviously have talent for blogging!

    • frenchcowboy permalink*
      June 7, 2009 09:37

      Merci, Jack. The French Cowboy will try not to feed his vanity with your friendly compliment ;).

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