American Elephants

Brave New World indeed… by The Elephant's Child

The left, having discarded the “liberal” label, think of themselves as “progressives”. Yet much of what they have in mind for us is just plain old socialism. Americans, used to our freedoms and our bill of rights, seldom realize just how bad it can get.

It’s wise to keep an eye on Britain’s National Health Service as it slowly falls apart, for the Democrats are anxious to soak us with single-payer health insurance (socialized medicine). Canada is also a prime example of the folly of these government health insurance plans. No, it is not free medical care, it just pretends to be free.

Now comes an article from Britain’s Daily Mail that notes that there are over1,000 laws that will allow the state to invade your home. The Big Brother state, under the Labour government, has introduced nearly half of the 1,043 laws that give the authorities the power to enter a home or business. They give the state the right to:

•Invade your home to see if your potted plants have pests or do not have a ‘plant passport’ (Plant Health England Order 2005).

•Survey your home and garden to see if your hedge is too high (Anti -Social Behavior Act 2003).

•Check that accommodation given to asylum-seekers is not being lived in by non-asylum seekers (Immigration and Asylum Act 1999).

•Raid a house to check if unlicensed gambling is taking place (Gambling Act 2005 Inspection Regulations 2007).

•Seize refrigerators without the correct energy rating (Energy Information Household Refrigerators and Freezers Regulations 2004).

New powers set to be approved by Parliament include inspecting for non-human genetic material, for looted cultural property from Iraq and for “undeclared ” carbon dioxide, as well as enforcing bin tax.

Householders can be fined up to £5,000 if they refuse entry or ‘obstruct’ an official.

Is this our future?

6 Comments so far
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I shudder to think that it could be our future. With so many of our liberals trying to push us in that direction, it could be. Let’s hope and pray that people in the United States wake up, including many who vote liberals into power.


Comment by renaissanceguy

Back in the days of the Cold War, I think people understood a little more about Socialism. And in the immediate aftermath, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, things were a little more obvious. But the illusions of ‘social justice’ and ‘human rights’ often seem to triumph over freedom and common sense.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Man I don’t know, if health insurance should seriously be fought as a battle of ideas where you have to defend libertarianism at any cost. Surely the great extent of individual liberty served the U.S. well in most cases. But health service provision is a practical economic problem where you have to find the most effective (in terms of cost and service results) way of providing a vital and life-saving service to citizens. The british NHS is actually one of the more privatized european systems. Take France (oh i know we are not supposed to like them) or Italy as an example and cost as well as service provision is way superior to the United States (90% of health economists will readily acknowledge this). Throwing around scare words like socialized medicine is not part of a decent analysis of the economic fundamentals necessary to provide good health services and creates a false ideological battle field in an area that many people’s life’s depend upon


Comment by Sander

As a practical economic problem, Universal Health Insurance (today’s polite name for socialized medicine) will cost far, far more than whatever you are paying today. You will just pay it in higher (lots higher) taxes. People who get their health insurance as a benefit from their employers think of their co-pay as what they are paying for health insurance, and complain when that goes up. But in reality, their employer is essentially taking the cost of insurance out of what your pay would be without insurance.

Canada is now beginning to move to a more privatized insurance since what they have is not working. Britain’s is failing, though Brits can see private physicians if they can pay for it and many do. If you remember, France killed about 3,000 old folks during a hot summer a few years back.

Florida has already lowered the cost of health insurance by opening up to insurers from all over the country. Texas has cracked down on tort lawyers and doctors are streaming into Texas in response. This article explains socialized medicine.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Dear Elephant Child, I am a graduate student in economics and aware that Universal Health Insurance is tax-financed and that the costs of financing health services will still have to be ultimately paid by consumers. However a private health insurance system might lead to several problems, such as a lack of bargaining power on the side of individual purhcasers or employers who have to purchase health care, information assymetry on the side of individuals purchasing health care, and a misallignment of incentives among doctors and hospitals who will often times act in the direct interest of big health companies, when setting prices and prescribing medicine. A publically financed health system will also create problems of bureaucracy wrongly alligned incentives of the government, and overconsumption of medicine. Taking all of this into account one should look at different systems and certain initiatives, collect data and evaluate the success instead of grumbling dark visions about socialized medicine. Take for example the World Health Report 2000 compiled by health experts and economist at the World Health Organization. It finds that the United States has by far the most expensive health system in the world, based on health expenditures per capita and on total expenditures as a share of GDP. The US spent 4,178$ per capita in 1998 on health related spending that is more than twice the OECD median of 1,783$ and far more than its closest competitor Switzerland (2,794$). US health spending is at 13,6% of GDP far more again than any other country with Germany(10.6%) and Switzerland (10.4) following, so bizarelly enough the current system is so badly organized that it costs more than those “socialized medicine systems” in Europe. This stems mainly from the high costs of prescription drugs (a question of bargaining power to a great extent), the use of more advanced medical technology (presumably a good thing) and the higher cost of it (bargaining power again), in addition to that the current private system has such a complicated multilayered administration that around 20% of expenditures are administrative, a universal health care system if correctly implemented could operate with a much lighter administration. Finally the shift from non-profit to increasingly profit hospitals has increased costs. Also the high number of uninsured people (16%) ledads to lack of preemptive treatments and therefore necessitates higher amounts of final treatments which are much more expensive. Access to health services for all citizens might thus even be economically beneficial, apart from improving the health of mainly poorer citizens. South Africa and the U.S. are the only developed countries not providing this access to all of its citizens. In addition to costs outcomes matter. The U.S. currently has the highest infant mortality rate among OECD countries, on disability adjusted life expectancy the U.S. is ahead only of Denmark among OECD countries. So in terms of cost as well as services European systems seem to fare better. And really if you wanna look into the Health economics literature, you will see that the free choice always leads to better outcomes approach was popular in the 70s but that modern research goes in very different directions and points out many flaws of this viewpoint.


Comment by Sander

This is a very complicated subject. You sound as if you are a student abroad. Our health insurance system right now is a bit of a mess, largely because of government interference. World Health Organization statistics are misleading, for example, in infant mortality. The US counts all babies born alive, even very very premature ones, and we save a lot of those. European countries simply do not count the premature at all. So you are really comparing apples and oranges.

Much expense is incurred in end-of-life statistics. We spend a lot on trying to save people and to prolong life, that other countries do not.

Our health insurance statistics are misleading. People who go without insurance for as little as a week or two are included as uninsured. People who are between jobs or looking for their first job are often uninsured. Others choose not to purchase insurance because they can afford to pay for their own. And a huge chunk of the uninsured are illegal aliens who get their health care at the emergency room, where they get full care even if they cannot pay.

The biggest problem is government mandates. State legislators are lobbied by providers who really have no business being part of insured medical care, such as Acupuncturists, Naturopaths, aromatherapists, birth control pills, and so on — which adds enormously to costs.

In general, competition always improves any business, including medicine, hospitals, and insurance. My son needed an MRI, and it took just a few hours till his appointment. In Canada, it would take several weeks. Texas has recently put stringent controls on tort law, and as a result, doctors are flocking to Texas, for their malpractice insurance costs are astronomical — due largely to big “pain-and-suffering” awards, and our over-supply of tort lawyers.

Florida has opened up the state for most insurance companies in the country to compete, and the cost of health insurance has dropped significantly.

Did you read my earlier piece on ‘socialized medicine” linked to in my last comment? I think you misunderstand the action of incentives in a free capitalist system. If you don’t like your doctor, or your hospital, you just choose another. The free market works.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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