American Elephants

We’re Simply Sick and Tired of Social Engineering Schemes! by The Elephant's Child

John Goodman is a Health Policy scholar at The National Center for Policy Analysis.  He is also the “”Father of Health Savings Accounts,” which are one of the  money-saving health care innovations that actually work.   His Health Policy Blog is an excellent source for keeping up-to-date on the facts and follies of ObamaCare. You can subscribe, it’s free.

He says, in a recent post, that “There are two fundamentally different ways of thinking about complex social systems: the economic approach and the engineering approach.”

The social engineer sees society as disorganized, unplanned and inefficient. Wherever he looks, he sees underperforming people in flawed organizations producing imperfect goods and services. The solution? Let experts study the problem, discover what should be produced and how to produce it, and then follow their advice.

Social engineers invariably believe that a plan devised by people at the top can work, even though everyone at the bottom has a self interest in defeating it. Implicitly, they assume that incentives don’t matter. Or, if they do matter, they don’t matter very much.

To the economist, by contrast, incentives are everything. Complex social systems display unpredictable spontaneous order, with all kinds of unintended consequences of purposeful action. To have the best chance of good social outcomes, people at the bottom must find that when they pursue their own interests they are meeting the needs of others. Perverse incentives almost always lead to perverse outcomes.

In the 20th century, country after country and regime after regime tried to impose an engineering model on society as a whole. Most of those experiments have thankfully come to a close.  By the century’s end, the vast majority of the world understood that the economic model, not the engineering model, is where our hopes should lie. Yet there are two fields that are still completely dominated by people who steadfastly resist the economic way of thinking. They are health care and education.

You can tell, he says, when the social engineers have hit rock bottom.  They start a pilot program. And this is the “only idea for controlling costs in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, ObamaCare).” We do have lots of examples of pilot programs and social engineering, and we should have learned that social engineering does not work.

Both these experiments reveal two important things about pilot programs: (1) it is possible to spend an enormous amount of money to learn something ordinary people with an ounce of common sense (people without PhDs) probably could have told us anyway and (2) no matter what we discover, politicians are likely to do what is politically expedient for them to do in any event.

Pilot programs assume that the engineering model will work.  They believe that experimenters can discover the best way to practice medicine and then the regulators can force all the doctors in the country to copy that model.  Ah, yes.  The regulators!  The social engineers always assume that people can be ordered to do everything their way. The problem is that in their hubris, they always fail to understand humanity.

There are hundreds of natural experiments that have bubbled up all over the country without the federal government spending a dime.  But we don’t know how to copy what doctors do at those centers of excellence, nor do we even know how to describe what they do.

ObamaCare engineers many new benefits.  Health insurers are raising their premiums as a direct result of the health care overhaul in coming weeks.  The law mandates free preventive care that raises costs.  But I thought that they claimed that preventive care would lower costs!  Some consumers could face total premium increases of more than 20%.  Ours is going up by 16%.  The social engineers screwed up again.

ObamaCare passed without a single Republican vote.  We’re really proud of them for that vote.  There is a long history of the failure of social engineering.  If we fail to learn from history, we’re really in trouble.  But to repeat myself once again, Liberals aren’t much interested in history. They fall in love with their ideas — without considering the consequences.


Six Feet Under and Digging Fast by American Elephant
September 9, 2010, 1:50 pm
Filed under: News, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Obama hits new low: 41% approve, 58% disapprove.

64% say country is headed in the wrong direction.

Generic Ballot Average: Republicans 48% Democrats 40%.

68% support smaller government, lower taxes.

Democrats abandoning Obama on tax hikes.

Rubio 43%, Crist 29%, Meeks 23%. (Keep in mind, however, that I fully expect Democrats to abandon Meeks and support Crist if these numbers don’t change soon.)

Blunt 53%, Carnahan 43%.

Fiorina 48%, Boxer 47%.

Whitman 48%, Brown 45%.

Virginia Democrat: “If you don’t tie our hands, we’ll keep stealing.”

But don’t get cocky! Get involved! Democrats have a long documented record of convictions of vote fraud, registration fraud, voter intimidation, campaign finance violation, violence, vandalism, lies, ballot box stuffing, October surprises and every other dirty trick in the book. I fully expect this year and 2012 to be worse than ever before.

If we want to undo the damage Democrats have done, we have to win every single race we can at both the federal and state level. And when Democrats are such dirty cheats, that means we have to win BIG. As someone said, “if it isn’t close, they can’t steal it.” And a great many of these races will be close.

If you haven’t been already, now is the time to donate and volunteer for the candidates/party you support.

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