I attended a debate sponsored by the Residence Halls Association last night and am quoted in the Maneater along with funkbrother and Truman Scholar Eliseo Rick Puig. Here is the article. It would be more accurate to say that 47 million Americans without healthcare represents more than just a market failure; in some demographics, it does represent a market failure, in others, it represents the limits of what the market can do. But a nuanced comment like that isn’t a terribly great sound byte.
The College Republicans (led by Brett Dinkins) were embarrassingly underprepared for this debate; they at one pointed cited an article in the Washington Examiner as countervailing evidence against budget analysis prepared by the Congressional Budget Office, seemingly implying that the CBO was itself responsible for a 11 trillion dollar national debt. Such a statement shows ignorance of the structure of Congress and the way money itself is spent (politicians write appropriation bills and pass them; the CBO is essentially a glorified secretarial/research agency that calculates the fiscal impact of a proposed bill). And worse, they stuck to a terribly inarticulate “markets are best” prescriptivism that is at best really annoying and at worst extremely dangerous; I made the argument that markets are not homogenous and and behave vastly differently depending on the parameters. The market for subprime mortgages is far different from the market for lemons, for instance, or for national security; these markets behave differently and we treat them differently, for good reason.
“The reason we haven’t pushed through a public option is because we thought the Republicans would have been willing to compromise,” Puig said. “Clearly that’s not the case. That’s the reason you’re about to get Obamacare shoved down your throat, because we thought you should have played nice.” –
Bit childish if I might say. Elementary playground antics written all over a statement like this. Not that I much think the political process in the US of A is legitimate, what with all the special interests, lobbies, secret societies, think-tanks, supranational orgs, etc. obstructing traffic in the King’s court, but I think it naive to expect compromise between groups with opposing premises and principles. And when it does not come, turn it into some self-referential claptrap encompassing the entire group (“we thought you should have played nice”). This is democratic fascism if I can call it that; “they aren’t responding to our ‘good will’, we’ll show them who’s boss”. Attempting to subordinate a vast amount of people to any agenda against their will is fascism. How could it be anything else when the majority is always virtuous and wise and the minority party is always to be patient and complaisant enough to accept the virtuous decisions of the majority? Excuse me, what happened to reserving my rights? Oh, you’re going to push them down my throat? By what authority? Sorry kiddo, you have no authority. If it starts from an illegitimate premise, (pushing something down my throat implying force and violence) it will remain illegitimate.
Oh, and markets don’t behave. People do. And I think it odd that out-of-control healthcare costs are associated with the protection rackets that are the FDA and the AMA, but the mystical “market” and its sentient discretionary ways are pointed to as the responsible party. I just love how the mafia reps come to my place of business, imposing outlandish regulations and mandates upon me, demanding exorbitant protection fees, restricting cheaper generic drugs from entering the market if they might compete with the pharmaceutical monopoly forcing me to sale inferior products at a far more expensive price; and when I must cut a few families from the insured rolls, blame me for my avarice and heartlessness. And when I say mafia, I mean that beneficent group known as the ne’er do wrong government. How fun it is to be a scapegoat so that they can continue unencumbered like the cannibal galaxy Andromeda devouring everything in sight!
What is so annoying about “markets work” prescriptivism? Health care markets in countries with less regulation (singapore, India) seem to be doing better with less….Markets seem to work pretty well for them in driving prices down.