I love reading about how anarchists, who endorse government so small it is non-existent, are left-wing. Just kidding! It’s infuriating.
Rewind the tape two years to November 2009. Liberals had a very clear plan for the health-care system. The way to cut costs, they said, was to pit private insurers against a public insurer — ideally, a public insurer that could use Medicare’s bargaining power. Force the public and private options into the same system, they said, and the two would compete: private insurers would be forced to clean up their business practices and innovate aggressively or they would lose business to the public option. The public insurer would be forced to keep its costs low and its services smart or it would lose customers to the private options. Either way, competition between the two models would lead to better, cheaper health care. But Republicans and some conservative Democrats disagreed, and the public-option idea died in the Senate.
Now it’s back. Only this time, it’s Mitt Romney proposing it and Republicans enthusing over it. [more]
This piece of news about healthcare policy, which is actually a pretty big deal in its own right, shows how the phrase “free markets” has become a buzzword that commentators throw around like confetti.
Some progressives think a free market is one in which any entity is allowed to compete, so long as it does so without breaking laws. Some conservatives, however, think a free market expressly excludes one entity — “the government,” and any perceived arrangement of it — from competing. Because apparently, markets that prevent a potential competitor from accessing customers somehow don’t cease to be free?
There is not a free market for health insurance. There is a market that is carefully managed and controlled. If we want a principled free market, then we need a public option. And if we’re not going to use certain words according to what they mean, then we need to just stop using them.
Every time some Libertarian observes government waste and claims it proves the government can’t do things well, I bring up failings in the private sector.
This morning, I woke up and the internet wouldn’t work. I’m told there was some sort of technical issue in my neighborhood. Hooray for capitalism! Thanks to the steady hand of the free market, I wasn’t able to use something that I’d paid for.
Ask any New Yorker who tried to use an iPhone circa 2008 if the technology worked. Ask them what they thought of AT&T’s ability to meet the demands of a market that didn’t blink at spending above-market rates for mobile service.
Awhile back, I spent the night in a hotel by the Atlanta airport because my incoming flight was too late to make a connecting flight. I didn’t pay to spend the night in Atlanta. I paid for the airline to get me from where I was to where I wanted to be. The company didn’t meet that obligation. And I didn’t even get the money back. How crap is that!
Do you see how unreasonable this way of thinking is?
There are no conservatives in the United States. The United States does not have a conservative tradition. The people who call themselves conservatives, like the Heritage Foundation or Gingrich, are believers in — are radical statists. They believe in a powerful state, but a welfare state for the rich. So, they want an industrial policy, they just want it hidden. They want an industrial policy that pours public funds into the pockets of rich investors and high-tech industry. And since they don’t want people to see it, they say the Russians are coming, it’s the Pentagon.