By: Joel Goodman
In the Constitution, you will find liberty right up front in the Preamble. You will not, though, find any mention of a free market, regardless of how much you search.
Free Market emphasis is an aspect of a philosophy supported by Libertarians and nouveau Conservatives called “Free Marketers.”
Many talk show conservatives repeat the Free Market dictum ad nauseam, and rant against any government-involved system, always claiming that what the central government does, the Free Market can do better. They repeat this mantra in spite of the fact that we have had a state capitalism economic system for more than fifty years.
They point to the failures of the central government and to the successes of the Free Market. I support a Free Market economy. I’m not peddling Communist centralization, but I don’t want America nailed to a Free Market cross for every endeavor done on behalf of the American people. At its extreme, Libertarians promote the privatization of the National Parks and Free Marketers promote open borders on trade.
They never count the failures in the Free Market or talk about the cutthroat competition. Competition yields a lot of carnage alongside success. The consumer may or may not always be the beneficiary of competition; sometimes competition actually stifles the market. It takes a lot of money to promote an idea today. There are only so many Apples starting out in garages concomitant with a brand new industry.
Many great innovations fail, either never getting to market or killed by the market itself – wary of competition for its success stories. Profitable ideas often die hard.
Buying clothing or auto insurance is not the same as buying health insurance, and health insurance is not the same as Health care. The new Republican plan is a health insurance plan – access to health insurance – not to doctors and the delivery of health care. There is little discussion about cutting out an entire level of costs in the delivery of health care by eliminating insurance where it is not necessary.
To conservatives, Free Market medicine is competition among insurance companies; lowering the cost of insurance – providing financial assistance for insurance through complicated tax credits – and ultimately, for those who don’t have don’t have VA care or insurance through work, or enough money to purchase insurance, providing Medicare or some other government single payer insurance.
Yes, I would like to see a Free Market system that would drive down the cost of medical care – not drive down the cost of insurance to pay for expensive medical care. Now, of course, you don’t necessarily want the cheapest medical care, one that is only cost-oriented; you want decent health care, and, in fact, that can be obtained at reasonable rates. There are some independent doctor / medical groups doing just that. They have negotiated drug prices down to basement levels and they offer programs for doctor visits – and surgical procedures all at very affordable rates.
A similar system on a large scale can be designed.
As Americans we believe that the less government involvement there is in our lives the better off we are. But, sometimes government is able to help things along; and, yes – that requires careful attention to what it does.
That was actually the basis for a debate between Patrick Henry and James Madison over the proposed Constitution. Madison promoted a larger more powerful central system, declaring that it would better secure our Liberty. Henry didn’t focus on the system – he focused on the goal – Liberty. These days, all we hear about is how the government shouldn’t get involved with anything we do, and we wish there were a Madison to help us out – the very man who promoted the large government. Ironically, when it comes to health care, just like that scoundrel Madison, I want the government to help.
Maybe we have to take a deep breath and a long look at what we have, and what we want. I’m not for allowing government intrusion in my life, just putting aside the tall tales of what would produce that intrusion.
Like Henry, I judge things by their effect on individual liberty. And, there are ways that government can promote the general welfare and not infringe on our liberties. That’s the plan I would like to see, one which stops yakking about Free Markets and instead discusses freedom from government intrusion while promoting the general welfare.
Intrusion is what is wrong with any single-payer system, or any program that directly involves the Federal government in the delivery of medical care, yielding intrusion in our lives. It should be obvious to Americans that providing benefits that are associated with the current personal income tax system is wrong. The current invasive tax system needs to be abolished, not used as a tool to make an insurance scheme work.
I’d like a plan that both Madison, the big government promoter, and Henry, the goal-oriented defender of Liberty, might like. I would like one that thought of the Free Market in terms of people being free to obtain affordable health care, without all kinds of tax devices and formulas and concern for the insurance companies. A plan that allowed for parallel methods of delivering health care, individuals paying for it directly, or purchasing private insurance or having the central and state governments reimbursing counties all across the country for the cost of delivering health care received from doctor’s visits and hospital stays for surgery and prescription drugs.
Much of the funding would come from the general funds of the central government and the states. Insurance companies could still offer premium insurance. They might even benefit from the cost savings derived from county hospitals and local doctors participating in group buying power consisting of over 300,000,000 people.
I support a Free Market health care plan, not a Free Market insurance scheme.