Baiting the Debate
October 31, 2009
I recently received an email from my Congressman asking my opinion
concerning an issue that has arisen from the debate over ObamaCare. That
question was "Should Congress cut Medicare funding by $400 billion to
fund the Democrats’ health care bill?” Those are the exact words and
check boxes are provided for an answer of yes, no or don’t know. No
matter how I answer the question, it can be interpreted that I support
one big government program over another. The question begs another
question, that being is there a right amount of funding to strip from
Medicare and push to ObamaCare? This type of question baits the debate
to distract the debaters from a more fundamental question that is never
asked. It is not untypical of how the debate is being directed.
Recently, a proposed change to the ObamaCare bill was offered that would
allow employers to charge fifty percent more in health insurance
premiums to employees who smoke or are overweight. A hot debate ensued
on a conservative web site between those who argued this was fair and
those who thought it unfairly targeted certain health risks and not
others. One constant complaint from these "conservatives” was why they
should pay higher premiums than those who engage in risky behavior.
Consequently, in their opinion, it made sense to allow these increased
premiums. This debate had been baited and so-called conservatives
swallowed it hook, line and sinker. They debated a faux issue.
Whether or not ObamaCare should pay for abortions raises another baited
debate. Opponents of an amendment prohibiting abortion say it isn’t
needed because it isn’t mentioned in the proposed legislation.
Proponents of the amendment say it is needed because abortion isn’t
specifically prohibited. While the lines drawn in this debate between
the pro-life and pro-abortion supporters are clear, it is still bait to
create the wrong debate.
Yet another example of baiting the debate is the infamous public option.
The essence of that debate is will the public option spur competition to
lower health insurance costs or lead to unfair practices by government
to monopolize health insurance.
While we are chumming, let’s throw in the biggest piece of bait of all,
the cost of ObamaCare versus its claimed and highly nebulous "savings”.
This has become a debate of magnitude and not of principle.
Every one of these issues and many others have been framed as if
ObamaCare can be hammered into something acceptable if we merely dispose
of these points of contention through debate. The purpose of baiting the
debate is to draw fish into the net of nationalized, socialized
medicine. Many fish are chasing the bait while ignoring the greater
threat that is surrounding them.
If we agree that health care and its component parts are too expensive,
then we have one of only two choices to follow. We must either accept
that the free market can offer solutions, or that government must
dictate solutions. These choices are mutually exclusive in that you can
have one or the other, but not both. The moment government dictates
anything you do not have a free market. That is not to say government
doesn’t have a role because indeed it does and that is to make sure the
market is free. Our Constitution has already decided this issue in favor
of the free market.
The most distinctive characteristic of a free market is the transaction
between a willing buyer and a willing seller. It is the freedom of
choice to buy or sell that enhances competition which enhances
efficiency, variety, quality and innovation, and these together
ultimately produce lower costs. The free market has given us a higher
and rising standard of living. Government’s role in a free market is to
protect the integrity of the transaction against deception or coercion
by either party and to protect the market from domination by an
individual or small number of entities.
When government interferes in the free market, there is no way that
market can be considered free. Government mandates and subsidies reduce
competition. The more competition is reduced, the less important are
efficiency, variety, quality and innovation. When you as a buyer have to
compete for a doctor’s time against a government mandated and subsidized
program, you lose. When you as a seller are compelled by government and
not your conscience, ethics or business sense as to what services you
must or must not provide, to whom you must or must not provide them, and
at what price, you lose. What buyer and seller lose is not only the
freedom of choice, but all the advantages of the free market. When
government dictates, buyer and seller are both coerced.
Government interference and intrusion in the free market has given us
more bankrupt and failed programs than I could possibly enumerate in
this limited space. Social Security, Medicare, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac,
Post Office, Amtrak, ethanol, GM, some state governments and the federal
government itself, all failing and headed toward bankruptcy. ObamaCare
will be no different. It is unconstitutional and will fall to the same
bureaucratic morass and political corruption that characterizes
everything the federal government does.
If we look at all of the little and baited debates about ObamaCare and
see through them to the bigger picture, each becomes an argument in the
larger mosaic of why our founders limited the power of government. They
did it for reasons that are as valid today as they were then. How much
more evidence is needed that big government makes big screw-ups? Should
we discard the wisdom of Jefferson, Madison and Adams that has served us
well for over 200 years in favor of the follies of Obama, Pelosi and
Reid that have failed us massively in record short time? Have the
founding fires of rebellion against tyranny and the risks of liberty
been quenched by elitist despots promising the security they would
afford a caged pet?
Yes, we should debate the points raised about ObamaCare, baited or
otherwise. However, we should never lose sight of the bigger picture
that it is none of governments business and never should be unless the
Constitution is amended. If we foolishly agree to do that, we will get
what we deserve. What we are getting now is undeserved.