Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sacrificing Wisconsin for the Nation

This morning, John Stossel calls upon Wisconsin to be the laboratory for socialized medicine in the country. His premise is the inevitable failure of the Healthy Wisconsin initiative is necessary to show the public the fallacy of Democratic Party solutions. Those of us who live here need to ask ourselves if we are willing to sacrifice our jobs to save the larger country from ruin.

Let Wisconsin Experiment with Socialized Medicine: As I interview people for my health-care TV special scheduled to run on ABC this September, I'm struck by how many hate the current semi-free-market system America has now. I say "semi" because it's not a free market when about half the health-care bill is funded by government. But it's still better than socialism. It allows for innovation like the creation of better drugs, pain-relieving joint replacements, artificial hearts, LASIK eye surgery, and who-knows-what-else that may reduce pain and extend my life.

Socialism will kill that, but people seem to like socialism, at least when it's sold as free stuff from politicians. Wisconsin's Capital Times reports that "two-thirds of Wisconsin residents support the Democratic plan -- even when presented with opponents' arguments that it would be a 'job killer' that could lead to higher taxes ... Said Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, one of the plan's sponsors, 'Everything we have heard [against the plan], we put in the poll. And it still comes back at 67 percent approval.'"

That's why America needs "Healthy Wisconsin." The fall of the Soviet Union deprived us of the biggest example of how socialism works. We need laboratories of failure to demonstrate what socialism is like. All we have now is Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, the U.S. Post Office, and state motor-vehicle departments. It's not enough. Wisconsin can show the other 49 states what "universal" coverage is like.

The problems with healthcare are financial issues, not service issues. The roots of these monetary strains go directly back to faulty insurance models and government constraints on the service supply side. The Cato Institute and TCS Daily go into details.

Insulation vs. Insurance: The health coverage most Americans have is what I call “insulation,” not insurance. Rather than insuring them against risk, most families’ health plans insulate them from paying for most health care bills, large and small. Real insurance, such as fire insurance, provides protection against rare, severe risk. Real insurance is characterized by: low premiums, infrequent claims and large claims.

The Universal Distraction: There is an artificial scarcity of service providers in health care, due to the need to obtain licenses to practice medicine, provide physical therapy, and so on. Licensing rules, while enacted in the name of protecting the consumer, typically serve the interests of providers, who enjoy membership in a cartel propped up by the government.

When the Democrats propose both more government control of providers and expansion of the pay for most everything plans, they demonstrate either ignorance why things are expensive, or more cynically, an ideological driven desire for expanded government power regardless of the consequences. More links on the topic are at QandO Blog and Badger Blog Alliance.