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Learn from Our Mistakes

March 22, 2010

The French Cowboy found it ironic how the cars here in continental Europe became bigger and bigger during the last few years. The rise of the SUV’s here coincided with a trend in some parts of America to buy smaller cars. You know, the “European” kind. It is better for the environment, so went the argument in the US. Here in Europe on the other hand, people began a love affair with gas-guzzling SUV’s, you see them everywhere now. And that’s even in very urban areas: we don’t have much use for 4-wheel drives on our paved streets, and most shopping malls don’t even have parking spaces big enough to accommodate cars the size of elephants.

While some Americans looked over the pond and thought to find virtue in the small-car mentality, Europeans exchanged their small automobiles for the “US-sized” ones – all worries about the environment lost their weight in comparison to the fun of driving an SUV. (Funny how, from a global warming perspective, the Americans’ self-restraint was cancelled out by the Europeans’ discovery of big-car enjoyments.)

The decision by some Americans to step on the road towards European-style socialism is comparable to the idea that European-style cars are the more virtuous thing to drive. In Europe, we are already close to a break-down of our social system for the simple reason that it’s financially unsustainable. Never mind that it violates simple economic and other liberties on a routine basis, we’ve gotten so used to that that we don’t complain about these things anymore. The problem we have now is that we’re running out of money. And this is why our politicians are so desperate that they even try to implement some sort of market-dynamism in our health care system. (They’re awfully maladroit at this, unfortunately.) Just as we have found our taste for the big US-style cars, we now see that US-style market mentality potentially can get us out of our social system disaster-to-be.

And while we’re making these experiences, some Americans decide that they want to follow us into our misery by setting up an enormous, complicated and inefficient red-tape jungle of a health care system that boils down to being a gigantic black box into which a lot of some Americans’ money goes in and very little of it comes out again, handed out to others.

The French Cowboy knows that had the health care bill passed in the House yesterday been subject to a referendum, it would have been voted down. You don’t need to know all the details of the bill (and who could!) to notice that it doesn’t smell right. The gut feeling of the majority of the American people is right: enormous redistribution schemes are never an efficient solution to a problem. And that the attempt by government to organise a national health insurance market is doomed to fail is well exhibited by us here in Europe.

It is healthier to learn from other people’s mistakes than having to make all the foolish things oneself to become wiser. If you find that Europe is too different from the US to be a good case study, then look at Massachusetts. The people of Massachusetts are so happy with RomneyCare (roughly a state-level ObamaCare) that they voted for Scott “I’m the 41st vote against ObamaCare” Brown and ended the era of Ted “ObamaCare Death Bed Wish” Kennedy. We’re talking about bluest-blue Massachusetts here!

Of course, you know all that. But to those who think that ObamaCare is a good idea, let the French Cowboy tell you: Your concerns regarding unfairness and cruelty in the health care system are legitimate and shared by all of us. But ObamaCare is going to make things worse, not better. There are smarter ways to improve – and really improve – your health care system.

I give the last word to a man who offers such an alternative:

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