12.03.2008

The Sacrificial Lambs Fall in Line

One of the things that helped stop HillaryCare from passing 16 years ago was a devastating lobbying campaign--including TV spots--by the insurance industry. This time around, the same groups that helped stave off the rampaging socialist hordes are bending over backwards to welcome them.

On the front page of the Boston Globe, Lisa Wangsness informs us that:
Today, the nation's largest health insurance lobbying group will present its own proposal for a version of universal health insurance. The group, America's Health Insurance Plans, has put up a website featuring man-on-the-street video interviews of people complaining about the lack of affordable healthcare: "I'm disgusted, I'm frustrated, I don't know what to do about it," a blonde woman with glasses says in one of the interviews. "It's time for the government to step in." [bold added]
Why the change?
Chris Jennings, a healthcare lobbyist and former Clinton aide, said that business groups and insurers have more urgent reasons for getting involved this time.

"In stark contrast to '93-'94, their second-best option is no longer to do nothing," Jennings said. "They recognize that a failure to act is an explicit policy choice that has severe and negative consequences to them. . . . This isn't just about altruism."

Business organizations like the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business advocacy organization whose grassroots campaign against the Clinton plan bombarded Capitol Hill with letters and phone calls, say their members can no longer tolerate the rising cost of premiums, which is forcing many small businesses either to stop offering coverage or require employees to pay more for it. [bold added]
So the country successfully fended off universal health care in the early 90s, but because none of the underlying problems were fixed--namely, Medicare and Medicaid were not abolished, and the government was not ejected from the health care market--the problem festered. The mixed system became more and more untenable, more regulations led to higher and higher costs, and finally, we have reached a breaking point where even the staunch opponents of socialized medicine--the very companies who will eventually be destroyed by it--see no alternative.

Will they listen to those who advocate for the only real, moral solution--laissez-faire health care--and change their self-defeating tune? Will the Republicans, who thankfully have retained the ability to filibuster, be willing to stand up and block the tsunami that is heading their way?

That's an awfully sad set to be pinning our hopes to.

6 comments:

madmax said...

"That's an awfully sad set to be pinning our hopes to."

Relying on Republicans as our only hope to defend what's left of the free market... Ugh.

I hate to say it, but I think its a forgone conclusion that we get some version of socialized medicine in this country. It seems that the power of altruism is growing right before our very eyes. No one other than Objectivists are capable of countering it and sadly we are still not a cultural force. Things look bleak.

C. August said...

I feel the same way. I see some brief positive signs once in awhile, like an Op-Ed by Paul Hsieh or a really good piece in the Wall St. Journal, but on the whole, it looks bad.

And we're not only relying on Republicans but businessmen like the insurance companies or physicians, very few of whom understand the moral defense of capitalism. Instead they cling to pragmatism. This is what makes them think it's worth it to make a deal with the devil and actively propose a version of socialized medicine.

Ugh is right.

Burgess Laughlin said...

Here is good news, of a sort: Today's events, for example in the movement for "universal health care," are products of ideas laid down decades, even generations ago by altruistic intellectual activists.

We are merely seeing one domino knock down another. The question I wonder about is this: will the falling-dominoes stop with European-style statist medicine?

More generally, will the drift to statism go further than Western Europeans have gone? If not, that is, if we settle into a sort of trans-Atlantic Euro-socialism, then Objectivists still have a chance of turning around the direction of the culture within the next generation or so. In that time frame, the results of statism in areas now under assault will be very evident.

If the culture is rational enough to learn, then it might back up--which is part of a turnaround.

One encouraging factor is that the drift to statism is mostly extending itself into areas not covered before. It is not backtracking a lot on other areas. E.g., I see no calls for nationalization of steel or other traditional socialist enterprises, nor calls for total resocialization of the post office.

There is some ground for hope--if more, a lot more, Objectivists get busy in intellectual activism at all levels and in all channels. I have tried to sketch those levels in the April 4, 2008 post, "Philosophical Ripples," on Making Progress, here.

Brian Fritts said...

I do feel more optimistic to discover that many Objectivists are blogging and engaging the culture at large.

C. August - I think we went to college together at a certain Big Ten University. If so, your other post on children's books reminds me of the Horatio Alger book we had to read for a history of business class.

Also, I think I remember back in the early 90's having a discussion about Hillary Clinton's health care program at an Objectivist Meeting. It was part of a random signs of the culture discussion on a Wednesday night. I remember having, now unfounded, a belief that the US couldn't go that far. At the time it felt that many people had a deep mistrust of government and that they knew (even if they didn't know why) that such a program was immoral and impractical.

If socialized medicine is passed, the medical profession will be the first to suffer. Why would a young, smart college student choose to be a doctor if they cannot be compensated properly for their time, effort and work. I think you will see the supply of doctors decrease dramatically. We may even have to import more physicians from other countries, as US citizens will choose other productive careers.

I always think of that line by Francisco when he asks that woman at the party why she doesn't believe in the operation of moral law. I think it is in response to when he says the world will get exactly what it deserves, and she believes he is being "cruel".

C. August said...

You bring up an interesting viewpoint, Burgess. I can see how, assuming the statism only attacks its current targets, and doesn't backtrack to areas it already failed to "fix", it could give us time to make progress.

My fear is that global warming alarmism -- even after (if) the economy recovers -- will provide a blanket justification to stifle all industry, potentially making things so bad that calls for nationalization will grow deafening.

Still, I agree that there is reason for some optimism, and certainly reason to keep fighting.

C. August said...

Brian, I think you're right about Purdue! Wow... email me at titanic.deckchairs AT gmail.com. It would be good to catch up.

And are you talking about Mark the Matchstick Boy? Was that the class where we read Myth of the Robber Barons also? I remember it being a very good class, though I recall that I was tasked with writing a paper in support of antitrust. I don't remember how I handled that... whether I made my case to instead argue against it, or was stuck trying to find mythical evidence in support. I wish I still had it somewhere.