Sunday, March 26, 2017

Obamacare, Trumpcare, and Breadlines in Venezuela

I have given up, for the most part. I think that WesternCiv has reached the event horizon and there is no recovery. I think it happened somewhere in the last 30 years, as we allowed the debt to grow, failed to address the external threats, and used the education system to raise a generation of socialists. So mostly I ignore the news. But two related news stories have rousted me today and I will grab the spinning axle.

First, let's speak of Venezuela. An ever increasingly communist government reacted to bread lines this week by blaming the bakers. They took over some bakeries, accused the bakers of trying to make a profit, hoarding flour and making brownies. Not kidding.

 This is a hopeless effort. Large economic decisions have lead finally and inevitably to a flour shortage. The breadlines are the direct result of another country trying communism, whatever they are calling it. It has failed again and people will suffer as a result. The Venezuelan government's response is to double down.
"We're going to distribute bread at a much cheaper price and in larger quantities than before," said Jose Enrique Solorzano, who heads the socialist committee that assumed control of Mansion's. "It's no longer going to be about the exploited and exploiter, no more boss and chief. We're all going to become productive, living and producing in equality."
I bring this up to juxtapose it with this post on The Smallest Minority where the question, "Why are guns a right in the US, meanwhile education and healthcare are not?", is explored. First, and most obviously, guns and education/healthcare are not being considered the same way. The right to keep and bear arms does not come with an assumption that the government is going to pay for it.

Although it's not currently in the Constitution, and amending the Constitution has a clear process that has been accomplished a number of times, I could be convinced that adding a couple of Amendments that state that "healthcare and education are rights that shall not be infringed" would be harmless. Fine, I'm with you. Now arms, education, and healthcare would all be given the same protection. They could not be denied to anyone who could afford to pay for them.

The evil in Obamacare is the idea that healthcare is a right that must be provided and paid for, taxing everyone to provide the goods and services involved. Trumpcare was going to do some variant, tweaking the model, but not addressing the underlying wrong. Like Medicare and Medicaid, this is a model destined to fail. It won't fail all at once, but it will fail.

The communist model for healthcare will result in everyone having a right to healthcare and no one getting any of it. There will be black market health care for those who can afford it, a lovely parallel system for the politically well connected, and a crumbling system of overworked, over-regulated providers working to give some care to all the rest of us.

To tie this together, think of healthcare provided with the exact same mindset as bread in Venezuela today. Take a failed premise, force the system to use it, and then blame everyone and everything else for the failure. Blame the fat-cat doctors, the hospital administrators, Big Pharma, etc. Point fingers as wait times for services and procedures go up, blame the profits of the insurance companies and finally do what has been planned for decades. Establish the single payer system that Obamacare was designed to push us to. Even if we do some sort of Trumpcare along the way, that's where we're headed.

Just like the nationalization of the Venezuelan bakeries, nationalization of the U.S. health care system is coming. It's the the same thinking and it will have the same outcome. I don't expect to change this. I don't Trump or any other President could change the direction this takes us. We don't have the data on a national healthcare system yet, so I'll use Medicare as an example. Once we nationalize healthcare, I expect the same sort of growth in cost over time.

This, just in Medicare, is unsustainable. Make it an national healthcare system and we will consume the economy. Once we get done blaming the folks I mentioned and creating the single payer system, the government will be unable to manage the hospitals, doctors, pharmacy companies, because central control and planning won't work any better in the U.S. than it is working today in Venezuela or than it did in farm planning in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. You can like it or hate it, but it will fail. Update: Bayou Renaissance Man provides some of the math

And to ask my final two questions. Is a system that promises bread to everyone and fails more moral than the capitalist system that provides a surplus of bread that must be paid for? Is a system that claims that health care is a right and destroys the healthcare system trying to provide it to everyone more moral than a capitalist system that provides healthcare related goods and services for those who can pay?


LindaG said...

I sadly agree. Don't know what will come next; but Western civilization seems too stupid to continue much longer.

I am going to share your post on my faceless book page, if you don't mind?

ASM826 said...

Linda, that's fine, share it as you like.

LindaG said...

Thank you.

SiGraybeard said...

I have to say this is one of your best posts ever.

The rate of inflation in medical care is matched only by that in college tuition, and it's for the same reason: government money. If you plot college costs vs. the CPI, it looks like that curve.

Along the same line (government distorting markets), if you plot education expenses vs. test scores it looks worse: no matter what is spent on K-12 education, it has no effect on test scores (except possibly making them a little worse).

Unknown said...

If this "communist" form of healthcare is destined to fail, then why does every single industrialized nation on earth have one of four forms of universal health care, with the exception of the United States? And why does every one of these other nations have health care costs that are one-half to two-thirds what US citizens pay, per capita? And why do the citizens of 35 other nations have longer life spans than do US citizens?
Of course Medicare costs have grown faster than have health care costs in general! Medicare insures the sickest Americans in the country, since it covers people aged over 65, and people who have been permanently disabled. Many changes need to be made, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry-as is done in most other advanced countries, and looking more closely at why some hospitals and staff have both better patient outcomes and far lower Medicare charges, than do some other hospitals.
To imply that virtually any area of US governance is similar to Venezuela is ludicrous; Venezuela's government is a horror story on almost every level. Why not compare US healthcare to that of Germany, or Denmark, or France, or ... ?

LindaG said...

David Crass, what are the tax rates in those countries? And what are the wait times for care that is responsible for many people seeking care here in America?

ASM826 said...


If you are right, then it won't be any problem and I will be a forgotten Cassandra. Because as I said, we're going to do this. Single payer is coming just as soon as the Dems take power again. The ACA was the gateway.

If you want to look at costs, cost containment, and management of hospitals and services, the British system is a good one, but please, don't pretend that our central planners are going to be able to do any better than theirs.

Socialism, centralized government control, and fixing prices leads to scarcity of goods and services. Remember this conversation when you're waiting in line at a hospital in 15 or 20 years.

Unknown said...

Tax rates and cost containment are both important issues, but keep in mind that, regardless of the tax rates in more socialistic countries, the taxes cover far more than just health care, and so are not germane to our discussion, and the actual amount that goes to healthcare is 1/2 to 2/3 what we Americans pay. The length of time people have to wait for elective surgery in some countries is an issue, but the majority of the citizens in these other countries don't seem to be willing to double their health costs so they can get a gall bladder operation done with a shorter wait time.
There are several ways of delivering government sponsored, or monitored, health care. Germany has had several forms of national health care since it was first instituted by Bismarck in the late 19th century. Germany has had bread lines in the past, but never due to their healthcare!