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Friday, February 7, 2014

Obamacare by Any Other Name…

The great liberal political scheme to make more Americans dependent upon government for their well-being, the so-called Affordable Care Act, has turned out to be the disaster its original opponents said it would be.  President Obama once proclaimed that he was rather fond of the nickname given to the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare.  But, alas, that pleasure has turned into chagrin.  After the disastrous roll out of the latest liberal scheme to have the government take charge of your personal health care, the name Obamacare has disappeared from the lips of the President and all those who supported it.  This, of course, includes the compliant whores of the national news media who have abandoned any sense of objectivity in favor of becoming Obama’s top cheerleaders.  Obamacare is no more; long live the Affordable Care Act they proclaim.  With apologies to William Shakespeare, Obamacare by any other name still smells like a pile of moose dung.

George Orwell was prescient.  The liberal answer to solve the problems of something that doesn’t work is to simply change the name.  But, simply reverting to the official name, the Affordable Care Act, is like putting lipstick on a pig.  A pig is still a pig, no matter how much lipstick it wears.

The failure of Obamacare has little to do with a bad website that is neither secure, nor workable.  It has nothing to do with the fact that the President lied when he said, "If you like your health insurance, you can keep it, period!"  The problem is not that some of the so-called health navigators are former and future criminals.  Neither is the problem the high cost, the low quality, or the death panels (yes, it turns out that Sarah Palin was right and the New York Times was wrong, there are death panels).  Nor is the trouble with Obamacare the fact that you will not be able to keep your doctor, or that there will be a shortage of hospital beds, and medical practitioners.  It's not even the fact that Obamacare and other socialist schemes are outside of the Constitutional purview of Congress, and the President. 

All those problems associated with Obamacare are just symptoms of the underlying cause of the failure of all socialist schemes.  It is an actuarial fact that both Social Security and Medicare are financially insolvent.  In fact, the official name of what we call Social Security is the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program. In other words, it was sold to the American people as an insurance program.  Now, as you may know, insurance companies are heavily regulated by the federal government.  One very important requirement the feds place on insurance companies is that they maintain sufficient reserves to cover all future claims.  If an insurance company does not maintain such reserves, it is not only closed down, its officers and directors end up behind bars.  They go to federal prison.

But, while the federal government imposes these safeguards on insurance companies, there are no similar safeguards imposed on members of Congress.  To put it quite bluntly, Social Security, like all socialist fantasies, is a Ponzi scheme.  Actually, that’s unfair to Ponzi and even to Bernie Madoff.  Both Ponzi and Madoff were pikers compared to the politicians who created and continue to promote and maintain Social Security, Medicare, and now, Obamacare.

Instead of sending the socialist bamboozlers off to prison, we continue to elect them each year.  And, they pride themselves for their compassion, their caring, and for their concern for others.  While some of their followers actually believe in these bad ideas, most of today's politicians are far beyond that.  They know they don't work, they know these schemes are failures, but for them, the goal is not to create workable programs, but to gain power over others.  It is not without justification that politics is often referred to as the second oldest profession in the world.

Why is it that all socialist schemes are financially unsustainable?  Why won't they ever work?  Why, when you compare them with free market solutions to a myriad of problems, do government programs not only fail, but get progressively worse as the years go by?  And, why, in stark contrast, do solutions to problems provided by the private sector, i.e. free market capitalism, continue to get better and better as time goes by?

For example, televisions that were invented by private entrepreneurs have continued to become better and less costly as the years have gone by.  Telephones and automobiles have continued to get better and better.  Charles Edison, Henry Ford, and Bill Gates revolutionized the world.  They did so because they were visionaries who worked hard and took risk that greatly improved the lives of American citizens. 

In contrast, the US Postal Service (and all bureaus, divisions and departments of government) continue to decline in efficiency and performance.  And, while the cost of televisions and other technology continues to decline as quality improves, the price of mail delivery continues to rise while the reliability of delivery declines.

Why is it that government services are always poor and inferior while free market capitalism always works?  Whether it is medical care, retirement benefits, or mail delivery, government always comes out in a distant second place.  The choice is really between freedom and government.  The free, competitive marketplace demands that businesses focus on the needs and desires of consumers.  Government has no such focus.  The goal of those in government is to perpetuate themselves in power.

Are the people in government worse and more easily corruptible than those outside of government?  No, they are all mortals, cut from the same cloth.  They are the same flawed individuals, but the outcome is totally different.  Why?

The answer is simple.  It is easy to permanently corrupt the political process, but it is extremely difficult to corrupt the free market process.  Think about it.  When Social Security first passed, it was relatively sound financially.  In fact, it remained so for a number of years.  Yet, the ultimate trajectory was absolutely predictable.

It turns out that the political process is relatively easy to corrupt.  Politicians, no matter the party, always have one primary goal in mind—to get re-elected or to move up the political ladder to a higher political office.  By the early 1900s, politicians realized that they could perpetuate themselves in power by raising taxes and then doling out goods and services to political groups who, in return, support them for re-election.  Never mind the fact that there was absolutely no authority in the U.S. Constitution to support such a process.  Once they got over that hurdle, the gold rush was on! 

A good example of this process exists at the state level.  With the advent of unionization of state government employees (another brilliant idea courtesy of California Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown), political corruption was raised to a new level.  It works like this.  Let’s say I work for the State of California.  By law, I am required to join a union in order to hold a state government job.  The union boss in charge of my union approaches state legislators and demands higher pay and platinum retirement benefits.  In return, he or she agrees to donate heavily to the re-election of those legislators who support such compensation and benefits.  That's corruption, pure and simple.  And, it's legal.

At the national level the political game works like this.  The Democratic Party identifies a voting bloc that it can capture by giving them some benefit, such as Social Security, Medicare or Obamacare.  Once that voting bloc becomes dependent on that benefit, the Democrats can count on getting their votes each election day.  It is bribery, and the irony is that the people have been bribed with their own money!

Unlike the constraints imposed on businesses in the free marketplace, there is no objective, fair mechanism to set compensation or benefits for government workers.  Neither is there any incentive to make the system work better or more efficiently.  And, lacking any incentive or job insecurity, the system continues to erode and decline as the years pass. 

It's all there, sitting right in front of us.  I’ve had jobs in government (City of St. Joseph and the U.S. Army) and in the free market.  The contrast is shocking.  There is incredible inefficiency and disorganization in government, including the Department of Defense.  In contrast, a business competing in the free market must work hard, and scramble to stay competitive.  Entrepreneurship is a high wire act, focused on serving your customers better than your competition, knowing that failure to do so means closing your doors.  It's a struggle that never ceases.  But, liberals just don't get it.

In fact, a liberal would argue that the allocation of goods and services based on success in the free market is neither fair, nor just.  They tell successful businessmen and women that they are just lucky in the lottery of life.  The fact that a successful person works long hours, takes great risks, and has educated himself or herself to the level needed for success is immaterial.  After all, a liberal would argue, successful people were born with advantages of intellect, risk taking, capital, or drive that others do not have.  In short, liberals conclude that business people achieve success strictly by luck.  As President Obama said, "You didn’t build that."

I know, it's a strange, almost weird argument that is out of touch with reality, but it is the only argument liberals have.  In short, liberals believe the world is unjust and imperfect.  Duh!  Early on I tried my best to disabuse my children of the idea that the world was just and fair.  It’s not, and it never will be, and if a few control the lives of many, the more unjust and unfair it will be. 

The idea that the individual decisions in regard to health care, retirement, transportation, communications, and more are best decided by a few powerful politicians and bureaucrats will work better than the individual decisions of millions of Americans is pure nonsense.  Socialism has a very consistent track record.  Never once has it worked anywhere.

Liberals seem to be mad at God (that is, if they believe in God) because He didn’t create every man and woman equal in circumstances, talents and ability.  God, for whatever reasons of His own, did not create all men and women equal.  I wanted to play baseball and throw an 85 mile per hour curve ball, but I was not blessed with the God given ability to develop such skills.  There are no two human beings alike.  We are all unique and different.  We are only the same in the eyes of God who blesses us as He chooses with the talents He desires.

So, that while men and women who work in freedom (the free market) are all subject to the same potential corruption and failures of those who work for government, they simply do not have as many opportunities to defraud the public as do public officials and bureaucrats.  The marketplace is simply too demanding.  In the free market, Social Security would have gone out of business as soon as its cash reserves were insufficient to cover future claims.  Its officers and directors would have gone to jail.  Yet, it continues to go forward with no financial reserves, using the funds that come in each year to cover the outflow to those long retired.

Medicare is, like Social Security, financially insolvent.  One wonders why, if both Social Security and Medicare are bankrupt, we would pass yet another failed socialist scheme.  But, politicians are not subject to the same constraints and countervailing pressures of the free market.  They don’t care about success, they just care about getting re-elected, and about gaining more power.

In the marketplace, a businessman or woman has to compete to gain success.  They have to be innovative, efficient and hard working in order to survive.  They can't print money to cover their stupidity and mistakes.  Entrepreneurs always walk along the edge of a financial cliff.  No matter how successful they are, they are never far away from failure and bankruptcy.  If they don't operate efficiently and offer goods and services at the right price, they go out of business.  If they offer shoddy goods or services, they also go out of business.  Freedom is very demanding.

Freedom demands that workers work hard.  It demands that business owners deliver superior products and services.  It demands self-reliance and self-responsibility, by worker and employer alike.  Freedom creates a permanent state of uncertainty, yet in reality, freedom is our only security.  All security offered by the government is illusory.  The government can only give to you what it first takes from you, with a big slice taken out for the politicians and the bureaucrats.

Social Security is really no security at all.  Medicare does not provide security.  And, Obamacare will not provide security.  None of these government schemes are sustainable.  They are simply liberal fantasies designed to delude and seduce voters into supporting candidates who seek power and denigrate individual freedom.

It turns out that our only real security lies with God.  It's the same security the Pilgrims relied upon.  It's the security that the signers of the Declaration of Independence relied upon.  It's the security that the Founders relied upon.

But, freedom is fragile.  If you strip away freedom's foundation—faith in God—it cannot long survive.  When faith dies, compassion dies, self responsibility dies, and nations become ripe for tyranny.  Hope never rests with government or with men, it always depends on God. 

Could it be that Obamacare is the high water mark of the ill conceived ideology that has festered in America since the turn of the previous century?  Like Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, historians may look back upon the Obama presidency as a similar futile episode that threatened our land.  And, Lord willing, Obamacare may turn out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, and steered our nation back toward the Constitutional republic designed by our forefathers.  May God continue to bless the United States of America.