Health Care Debate Involves First Principles: Capitalism vs. Command Economy

Neo-neocon (owner of my favorite bloggish nom d’pixelle) explains the fundamental difference in world-view that underlies the highly partisan health care debate (link and emphasis added):

Americans on both left and right are unhappy with the current health care reform bills.



The left is upset because neither the House nor Senate version goes far enough towards putting government firmly in control of our medical decisions, with the goal of providing equal coverage for all no matter what the price. The right is upset because we see the bills’ provisions as unwarranted intrusions on our liberty that create a “right” where none existed before. We believe that reform would be better handled by fostering competition in the private sector rather than increasing government intervention in vital decisions that should remain between doctor and patient….

[E]mbedded in the second paragraph of this article is the most basic division between left and right, embodied in the phrases “providing equal coverage for all” and “unwarranted intrusion on our liberty.”

The first expresses the left’s push for equality of outcome, while the second speaks to the right’s concern with safeguarding liberty while providing equality of opportunity. Even if it were possible to put aside for a moment all the highly valid concerns about the way this bill has been advanced against the will of the American public — the lack of transparency, the fiscal fudging, the vote-buying, and the lies — this deep and primary philosophical difference between left and right would still remain.

The battle cry of the left is that “health care should be a right, not a privilege.”  This is brilliant framing — it sneakily implies that conservatives believe health care should be a privilege.

140px-CaduceusThe problem, of course, is that no health care system can provide every treatment for every person for every malady.  Health care expenditures have to be rationed, either by government, by the marketplace, or — as in our current system — by an imperfect combination of the two.

Thanks in large part to Joe Lieberman, the most pernicious element of the left’s health care agenda — the single-payer stalking horse known as the public “option” — has been eliminated from the current bill.  But the legislation still represents a massive shift of control, over one-sixth of the economy, from the marketplace to the government.  It’s a move in the wrong direction, and it will stifle competition and lead to higher, unsustainable costs.  (There still remains a faint hope that the reconciliation process between the House and Senate versions may scuttle the legislation altogether.)

You should read all of Neo’s article, but since you won’t, I’ll give away the ending.  Riffing on Churchill, she writes:

Our government has had to choose between liberty and social justice. They chose social justice. They will get neither.