What will a government takeover of the healthcare industry do to the American economy? “It probably won’t mean very much.” An article published in this morning’s Wall Street Journal claims, further explaining that “[s]ocialism, or social democracy, or whatever else you want to call it, doesn’t seem to have hurt stockholders overseas too badly. As evidence, the article cites the fact that “[o]ver the past 10 years, according to MSCI Barra, stock markets across socialized Europe have produced total returns of about 2% a year in U.S. dollar terms, according to MSCI Barra. The figure for France is just over 2% and for left-wing Britain and Holland nearer to 3%. Pinko Denmark has boomed by 10% a year.”
Of course, corporate profit increases say nothing about a country’s economic health, which is measured by the overall prosperity of its people. In fact, corporate profits are often a direct result of oppressive socialist regulations that only fatten the pockets of select businesses through laws that discourage competition and create artificial monopolies. Conversely, the damage caused by socialism is easily recognized by anyone with enough common sense to trace its effects to their logical conclusion.
Government, by and through the force of law, either prohibits or compels. In the case of socialized healthcare, the federal government will compel its citizens to pay large amounts of money which it will then payout to doctors and hospitals so that they will treat patients. Unless doctors and hospitals comply with government regulations, they will be prohibited from receiving that money, and eventually, may be denied the right to practice medicine altogether. Consequently, only those doctors and hospitals that comply with government regulations will profit. Without the pressures inherent in market competition, innovation will die, and with it, the advances in the standard of living–which cannot be measured by corporate profits–will slow.
At its best, socialism produces economic stagnation. At its worst, socialism produces tyranny.
The Washington Post reports that the House of Representatives, after deciding that it actually was ok to vote on the constitutionally questionable ‘deem and pass’ self-executing quasi amendment/bill, has unveiled its list of “changes to compromise health-care legislation” which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost “$940 billion over the next decade.” The bill will be “paid for by slicing nearly $500 billion from Medicare and other federal health programs.” And the other $440 billion, you ask? Well … that’s a really good question …
In an op-ed for today’s New York Times, Kirk Johnson describes the modern political push away from centralized government. For the first time in a long time, lawmakers, both liberal and conservative, are actually discussing the substantive import of constitutional provisions such as article one and the ninth and tenth amendments which limit the authority of the federal government and require that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Rather than a retreat from change and progress, the new movement actually signifies an effort to make government more effective. By divesting the federal government of its grip over social programs–such as education, healthcare, and social security–and returning power and authority to the states waste and corruption will be greatly reduced, and benefits will become more readily accessible as states compete one against another for citizenry. Sometimes, less really is more.
An article published in this morning’s Wall Street Journal details the process some house members are pursuing in order to pass the government-healthcare-industry-takeover bill proposed by the Senate. “Under the “reconciliation” process that began yesterday afternoon, the House is supposed to approve the Senate’s Christmas Eve bill and then use “sidecar” amendments to fix the things it doesn’t like. Those amendments would then go to the Senate under rules that would let Democrats pass them while avoiding the ordinary 60-vote threshold for passing major legislation.” As the article explains “[t]his two-votes-in-one gambit is a brazen affront to the plain language of the Constitution, which is intended to require democratic accountability. Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution says that in order for a ‘Bill’ to ‘become a Law,’ it ‘shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate.’ … As Stanford law professor Michael McConnell pointed out in these pages yesterday, ‘The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote. The senators would then vote only on the amendatory bill. But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form …” thereby undermining senate rules, and flying in the face of the Constitution. Of course, for the bill to become to become law, fifty one senators would still need to vote in favor of the amendments proposed by the House, which would require some to abandon both the Constitution and their ‘core beliefs’ in exchange for the Harry and Nancy’s good graces.
Republican resistance to healthcare reform (or, more appropriately, a federal takeover of the healthcare industry) has been, and continues to be strategically ambiguous, if not just plain quirky. Their latest tactic, as reported by Bloomberg, is “telling House Democrats they can’t rely on the Senate to approve the [desired] changes [in the healthcare bill], which congressional leaders are trying to navigate through a process called budget reconciliation.” By painting their constituents in the senate as untrustworthy, Republicans hope to … convince house democrats to give up healthcare reform altogether? Maybe? The problem with such political tactics is a lack of vision; Republican leadership has failed to effectively communicate what should be its central message–that any healthcare reform legislation that expands federal control of the healthcare industry, be it through regulations, subsidies, or social programs, is bad policy and will, inevitably, increase costs and stifle innovation. It’s a simple, empirically backed argument that speaks truth to the common sense of even the most uneducated american. Of course, taking such a position to its logical extreme would require opposition to not only healthcare reform, but Medicare as it now stands. And, like Social Security, many Republicans see Medicare as politically untouchable. Why? Who knows. The last true dismantling of a federal social program, in the form of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, worked wonders. The same could, and should be done for Medicare. De-regulation–now that’s a strategy.
U.S. treatment of Israel over the course of the last twenty years has been anything but realistic; Vice President Biden’s condemnation of Israel’s recent decision to expand its borders by allowing building permits in East Jerusalem, demonstrates just how out of touch with reality many politicians truly are. Due in part to forced concessions of peace from the Bush administration, Israel spent a large part of the first decade withdrawing from the Palestinian Frontier, and practicing a defensive posture. In response to Israel’s attempts at peace, Palestine unleashed the second intafada, in which over one thousand Israeli’s were murdered in terrorist attacks. Consequently, Israel’s current prime, Benjamin Netanyahu, has decided that the best defense is a good offense, and begun once more to expand Israel’s borders in the hopes of swallowing up the Palestinian threat. While Israel is a far cry from a perfect republic, it provides a stark contrast to it’s lawless Palestinian neighbor. Insistence by U.S. officials that Israel return to the negotiations table ignores the last decade of history. If Israel is to survive, it must, like any other nation, defend itself from terrorism.
In a recent interview, Karl Rove paternally reminded conservative radicals–that is, conservatives who actually believe in something–that “not even Ronald Reagan will get a perfect score on a purity test.” There he is again, Granddaddy Reagan, this time channeled by one of the mushy middle’s dogmatic champions. Rove’s point seems to be that, since Reagan would fail a purity test, conservatives should sit down, shut up, and accept the McCain/Bush/Socialist-Light candidates that his constituents in the GOP have been offering since Herbert Hoover. What he fails to acknowledge is that this strategy of contenting ourselves with the lesser of two evils is to blame for the federal behemoth under which we currently live. In the end, compromise on fundamental principles is nothing short of failure. If America is to shake off the shackles of socialism with which it has bound itself, conservatives must begin to elect candidates that are actually conservative.
In an article published in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education to George H.W. Bush, complains of the failings of 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act which sought to provide national equality of education through mandated testing. Unfortunately, “Because the law demanded progress only in reading and math, schools were incentivized to show gains only on those subjects. Hundreds of millions of dollars were invested in test-preparation materials. Meanwhile, there was no incentive to teach the arts, science, history, literature, geography, civics, foreign languages or physical education.” Oddly enough, despite the heavy emphasis on testing, “students improved not at all on the federal test of reading even though they had been tested annually by their states in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.” Ravitch’s study demonstrates how little the modern world knows about education, and, accordingly, illustrates why centralization actually undermines innovation. Rather than force schools to comply with strict national standards and regulations, the federal government would do best to get out of the way and allow each individual state governments to run their own show. With fifty states experimenting with different ways to improve education, innovation will come.
Predictably, feminist extremists have taken up arms, this Women’s day, to decry the evils of maternal home-making. The first empirical volley came this morning in the form of a poll, published on Reuters, alleging that only one in four believe that a woman’s place is in the home. Citing the poll’s results, John Wright, a well known professional in the world of Market Research, is quoted as saying that “This poll has a fundamental expression embraced by a full majority that women, individually or otherwise, should have the ability to choose to do what and where they believe they can make their greatest contribution.” Mr. John’s pacifist expression of equal rights, while stating an axiomatic truth with which few would disagree, distracts from the fundamental question at issue. The belief that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ has as much to do with equal rights as does the belief that ‘a man’s place is in the office’. Of course, confusing gender roles with gender rights is a tactic that feminist extremists have long used to discredit those who actually believe that men and women are inherently different and, therefore, generally suited to different roles. Shame on Reuters for allowing such propaganda to go unchecked.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Iraqi elections to “choose the country’s next leader” opened today “to deadly violence and fraud claims” where “at least 12 people were killed in three separate attacks.” While violence is to be expected given Iraq’s political infancy as a republic, many may claim that such is evidence that western government is unsuited to eastern culture. Such a position begs the question as to whether or not constitutional representative government is objectively superior to other systems of government. Of course, the question is far less sophisticated. All systems of governments, regardless of title, may be divided into two categories: those that restrict political power to an autonomous body–such as a king or self-perpetuating council–and those that relegate it to the people. The answer is simple. Democracy, like gravity, is a universal truth appropriate for all cultures. While progress in Iraq has been and will continue to be slow, it will come. The Iraqi people are ready for freedom.