On health care and markets

Andy Matthews

John Stossel is one of the best at explaining the virtues of the free-market system. From his column today on the folly of government-run health care:

Politicians and bureaucrats clearly have no idea how complicated markets are. Every day people make countless tradeoffs, in all areas of life, based on subjective value judgments and personal information as they delicately balance their interests, needs and wants. Who is in a better position than they to tailor those choices to best serve their purposes? Yet the politicians believe they can plan the medical market the way you plan a birthday party.

Then it gets better:

Now focus on the spectacle of that handful of men and women daring to think they can design the medical marketplace. They would empower an even smaller group to determine — for millions of diverse Americans — which medical treatments are worthy and at what price.

How do these arrogant, presumptuous politicians believe they can know enough to plan for the rest of us? Who do they think they are? Under cover of helping uninsured people get medical care, they live out their megalomaniacal social-engineering fantasies — putting our physical and economic health at risk in the process.

Will the American people say “Enough!”?

And better:

Like the politicians, most people are oblivious to F.A. Hayek’s insight that the critical information needed to run an economy — or even 15 percent of one — doesn’t exist in any one place where it is accessible to central planners. Instead, it is scattered piecemeal among millions of people. All those people put together are far wiser and better informed than Congress could ever be. Only markets — private property, free exchange and the price system — can put this knowledge at the disposal of entrepreneurs and consumers, ensuring the system will serve the people and not just the political class.

You’ll definitely want to read the whole thing.

Also, for a detailed, point-by-point counter to the pro-Obamacare propagandizing, check out this recent piece from the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner:

Anyone who thinks a government takeover of the health-care system will improve quality of care has only to look at the health-care programs the government already runs: The Veterans Administration is overwhelmed with problems, Medicaid is notorious for providing poor quality at a high cost – and Medicare has huge gaps in coverage.

Worse, however, on Friday, Obama endorsed the creation of a government board with the power to dictate how your doctor practices medicine and all but endorsed the rationing prevalent in nationalized health-care systems around the world.

So much for the claim that government-run health care will lead to higher quality. Tanner also punctures two other myths the Obama administration is peddling: that government-run health care will lower costs and that those who are satisfied with their current health care plans will get to keep them. Again, the whole piece is well worth your time.

The good news is that the effort to implement this monstrosity appears to be starting to crumble. Surprised? Not me.