Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Walter Williams on "Affordable" Heath Care

He says:

One of the campaign themes this election cycle is "affordable" health care. Shouldn't we ask ourselves whether we want the politicians who brought us the "affordable" housing, that created the current financial debacle, to now deliver us affordable health care?

Or: Beware of statism. See the chapter, "Idols of the State," in Herbert Schlossberg's modern classic, Idols for Destruction (first published, 1983).

7 comments:

ChrisB said...

Where I work, we get patients from other countries -- including those with socialized medicine. Care to guess why they come to the US? We develop new treatments; they don't or they roll them out terribly slowly -- much like the VA which still uses 1993 technology to treat prostate cancer.

For all the problems in our system, I'd rather have this than anything in Europe.

Daniel said...

It's apples and oranges. Would you also compare "affordable" military to "affordable" educational programs? It's disanalogous. I see no correlation between having affordable health care and having affordable housing. And either way, both candidates want affordable housing AND affordable health care. It's just that their strategies differ.

And since when is having something affordable bad? Are we not called to be good stewards of our money?

Doug Groothuis said...

"Affordable" is a code word for mandated, statist, inefficient regulation. Look what "affordable" housing did to us with the credit crisis. That was engineered by Democrats who forced banks to make stupid loans to people who could not replay. It was not a deregulation problem or attrributable to Bush policies.

Daniel said...

Sub-prime loans (aka, to people who will get "affordable" housing) was not the primary problem of the housing crisis. As you allude to, it was the irresponsibility of mortgage companies and banks to make quality loans. It was quantity over quality--- in my opinion, due to American ideals of that nature as well as greed. I think you would agree with that.

And I don't want to get into the finger pointing game but it was wholly neither parties fault. In 2005 when some Republican congressmen wanted to reform Fannie and Freddie, their amendments were shot down. By Democrats, yes, but also by many Republicans (who happened to be in the majority that year). Again, the sin of greed is the only bi-partisan entity on Capital Hill.

However we got into this mess the only thing we need to be praying about is that Lord willing this bail-out works. The blame game is a waste of time and unproductive.

Rudolf van der Berg said...

Affordable healthcare is paying 200 dollars a month on healthcare for a family and actually receive a treatment for cancer when you need it. Not being kicked out of an insurance because your getting to expensive. Not losing your house when the bills come in.

The thing with affordable healthcare is that when your young you support the old. When your old, you get carried by the young. And it doesn't have to be expensive, inefficient etc. You can do it for less than what the US is paying currently and have better qualified healthcare, including advanced new ways.

If you don't believe it. analyze the way the system works in The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany etc.

Sirfab said...

"Look what "affordable" housing did to us with the credit crisis. That was engineered by Democrats who forced banks to make stupid loans to people who could not replay. [sic]"

Dr. Groothuis:

It sounds like you are fingering the CRA (Community Reinvestmnent Act of 1977) as the culprit for the housing bubble and the subcrime (oops, Freudian slip), I mean subprime crisis. If so, your claim is--at the very least-- debatable. If you care to substantiate your claim, I will be happy to counter your argument. That might require some time, though.

So, really, the issue is one of corporate and individual responsibility: were people forced to tak out loans they could not afford? No. But once they asked, were banks forced to grant the loans? Again, no.

No one forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford them. Banks got greedy; greed--I hate to break the news to you--being the true religion of America. In the article, Krugman says:

"[...] subprime loans [...] offer a low initial “teaser” rate that suddenly jumps after two years, and that include prepayment penalties preventing the borrowers from undoing their mistakes.

[..] such loans were primarily offered to those least able to evaluate them. “Why are the most risky loan products sold to the least sophisticated borrowers? [...] The question answers itself — the least sophisticated borrowers are probably duped into taking these products."

Banks reaped what they sowed in the name of greed, and greedy politicians--of both parties--carry at least part of the blame. It should be noted, however, that between 1997 and 2007 Republicans held the majority in both chambers of Congress for 8 of 10 years, and yet they did not do anything to correct the financial problems they are now blaming Democrats for.

PrinceOfFools said...

I remember that the Clinton Health Care plan of the early 90s sought to take over the health care industry by offering socialized medicine. Opposition to this helped fuel the '94 Republican landslide in which they won the majority in the House of Reps for the first time in 40 years.

During this time many Republicans were arguing that reforms should simply be put in place to battle the skyrocketing health care cost. The GOP, however, once in power offered nothing more than some token efforts (e.g. MSAs) to help the situation and the market principles needed to address costs were not employed. I would contend that the Republicans in Congress are just as swayed by the influence of the health care lobby (AMA & Pharmaceutical companies)as the Democratic Party is by the NEA who are deathly afraid of competition in the form of vouchers within Education.

There needs to be health care reform and I would contend consumer rationing would serve us infinitely better than Socialized medicine as Mr. Williams notes. Changing the tax code so that health insurance is not just tax deductible for employers but also for individuals would start things in that direction. The problem is voting for McCain and a Republican congress isn't likely to bring that about. After all, why should we believe them this time.

In conclusion, a vote for McCain and a Republican Congress will likely ensure that health care costs continue to slowly get worse whereas a vote for Obama and a Democratic Congress will likely ensure the health care system declines much quicker with more Government "fixes" that will stifle innovation and produce long wait times for care (and I'm not talkin' 45 minutes in the lobby). Reminds me of a Bob Dole quote where he said something to the effect of, "If the Democrats proposed legislation to blow up Congress, Republicans would offer an amendment to phase in the destruction over 5 years". Given the two choices I vote for the slow decline instead of the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" approach.