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Red Alert

July 25, 2009

Here is President Obama during his press conference on his health care plans last Wednesday:

Now, there have been reports just over the last couple of days of insurance companies making record profits — right now. At a time when everybody is getting hammered, they’re making record profits, and premiums are going up. What’s the constraint on that? How can you ensure that those costs aren’t being passed on to employers or passed on to employees, the American people, ordinary middle-class families, in a way that over time is going to make them broke?

The French Cowboy has a hypothetical question for you about this quote: If Obama were a Marxist, what would he have said differently?

“Ah”, you say, “you are implying that Obama is a Marxist! That is ridiculous. Your claim is refuted by what Obama said next in response to his own rhetorical question: ‘Well, part of the way is to make sure that there’s some competition out there.’ See? It is obvious that Obama understands that competition is a good thing. That’s hardly Marxists.”

To this the French Cowboy has to respond that, primo, I’m not implying that Obama is a Marxist. Yet I’m implying that he speaks like one.  And secundo, in that sentence that you’re quoting, Obama is misusing the term “competition”. With “competition” Obama means the introduction of a government-run health insurance which is supposed to make offers alongside private insurance companies. This, of course, has nothing to do with competition in the capitalist sense of the word, which is, by the way, also the sense in which it is usually understood in an economic context. Note that Obama indirectly says that a number of private companies serving a market are not in competition, but that competition is created through a “public” alternative designed and financed by government. By this definition the term “competition” is turned on its head.

It is a fundamental flaw of Obama’s reasoning that the private sector of the economy cannot stay “honest” with government only watching over the abiding of the law, but that government has to restrain private companies and even individuals to the extent that it threatens their wellbeing. Think about it: The so-called tax loopholes are perfectly legal by definition. Obama has criminalised them and after companies have adjusted a reduction in tax income for Treasury is sure to come. “Obscene profits”, as even McCain liked to call them, are perfectly legal. Obama has criminalised those as well and incentives to perfom excellent work along with them. Health insurance companies offering deals for premiums that Obama deems too high are acting perfectly legal. Obama has made them the next target of his crusade against perceived unfairness, declaring that making a profit during an economic downturn is verboten.

The worst thing about it is that Obama isn’t helping anyone with this. Not the middle class, not the poor, not minorities, not even his own presidency is going to profit from Obama waring against successful businesses. Businesses are the engine of a functioning economy, not government. It’s businesses that create jobs and the tax base that Obama needs to finance his socialist dreams, not government. Individuals in the pursuit of happiness are the foundation of a thriving nation, not government officials regulating other people’s lives. From what we’ve seen so far you have to think that President Obama has yet to learn this.

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