A simple and articulate explanation of why the new law of the land, via the health care bill, will forever transform America.
(The question we must ask is: what is Progressivism and how is it inconsistent with liberty?)
. . . progressivism, whose goal was to reorder society along lines other than those of the Constitution. The best known (include) Robert LaFollette, a Republican, (and) Theodore Roosevelt. Today we tend to associate progressivism mostly with Democrats, and trace it back to Woodrow Wilson. But it had its roots in both parties.
The social and political programs of the progressives came in on two great waves: the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s. Today, President Obama often invokes progressivism . . to generate its third great wave of public policy. In thinking about what this mean(s), we need look no farther than the health care reform program (just passed). . .
Under the terms of our Constitution, every individual has a right to care for their health, just as they have a right to eat. These rights are integral to our natural right to life—and it is government's chief purpose to secure our natural rights. But the right to care for one's health does not imply that government must provide health care, any more than our right to eat, in order to live, requires government to own the farms and raise the crops.
Government's constitutional obligations in regard to protecting such rights are normally met by establishing the conditions for free markets—markets which historically provide an abundance of goods and services, at an affordable cost, for the largest number. When free markets seem to be failing to meet this goal—and I would argue that the delivery of health care today is an example of where this is the case—government, rather than seeking to supply the need itself, should look to see if its own interventions are the root of the problem, and should make adjustments to unleash competition and choice.
With good reason, the Constitution left the administration of public health—like that of most public goods—decentralized. If there is any doubt that control of health care services should not have been placed in the federal government, we need only look at the history of Medicare and Medicaid—a history in which fraud has proliferated despite all efforts to stop it and failure to control costs has become a national nightmare. In 1966 the cost of Medicare to the taxpayers was about $3 billion. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated that it would cost $12 billion (adjusted for inflation) by 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was nearly nine times that—$107 billion. By 2009 Medicare costs reached $427 billion, with Medicaid boosting that by an additional $255 billion. And this doesn't take into account the Medicaid expansion in last year's “stimulus.” . . .
The (bad) news is that we (had) a choice. There are three basic models for health care delivery that are available to us: (1) today's business-government partnership or “crony capitalism” model, in which bureaucratized insurance companies monopolize the field in most states; (2) the progressive model (passed) by the Obama administration and congressional leaders, in which federal bureaucrats tell us which services they will allow; and (3) the model consistent with our Constitution, in which health care providers compete in a free and transparent market, and in which individual consumers are in control.
We are (told)—out of compassion— the progressive model (will be implemented); but placing control of health care in the hands of government bureaucrats is not compassionate. Bureaucrats don't make decisions about health care according to personal need or preference; they ration resources according to a dollar-driven social calculus. . .
The idea that the government should make decisions about how long people should live and who should be denied care is something that Americans find repugnant. As is true of the supply of every service or product, the supply of health care is finite. But it is a mistake to conclude that government should ration it, rather than allowing individuals to order their needs and allocate their resources among competing options. Those who are sick, special needs patients, and seniors are the ones who will be most at risk when the government involves itself in these difficult choices—as government must, once it takes upon itself management of American health care. . .
(Now that we are to) go down this path, creating entitlement after entitlement and promising benefits that can never be delivered, America will become like the European Union: a welfare state where most people pay few or no taxes while becoming dependent on government benefits; where tax reduction is impossible because more people have a stake in welfare than in producing wealth; where high unemployment is a way of life and the spirit of risk-taking is smothered by webs of regulation.
America today (has reached) this tipping point. While exact and precise measures cannot be made, there are estimates that in 2004, 20 percent of households in the U.S. were receiving about 75 percent of their income from the federal government, and that another 20 percent were receiving nearly 40 percent of their income from federal programs. All in all, about 60 percent of U.S. households were receiving more government benefits and services, measured in dollars, than they were paying back in taxes. It has also been estimated that President Obama's first budget alone raises this level of “net dependency” to 70 percent. . .
In other words, as many as 110 million Americans could claim this new entitlement within a few years. In addition to the immediate massive increase in dependency this would bring on, the structure of the subsidies—whereby they fade out as income rises—would impose a marginal tax penalty that would act as a disincentive to work, increasing dependency even more. . .
it makes absolutely no difference whether we have 50 state exchanges rather than a federal exchange, as long as the federal government is where the subsidies for consumers will be located (because) if you are eligible and you want a break on your insurance premium, it is the federal government that will provide it while telling you what kind of insurance you have to buy. (in essence we now have single payer nationalized health care)
Americans take pride in self-government, which entails providing for their own well-being and the well-being of their families in a free society. In exchange for this, (they got) government-run health care . . . (which will) make them passive subjects, dependent on handouts and far more concerned about security than liberty. . .
Americans retain the Founders' view that a government that seeks to go beyond its high but limited constitutional role of securing equal rights and establishing free markets is not progressive at all in the literal sense of that word—rather it is reactionary. Such a government seeks to privilege some Americans at the expense of others—which is precisely what the American Revolution was fought to prevent.
(The next question is: what is the next step for those who will defend liberty?)
“Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.”