the government owes you nothing

where in the world did we get the idea that being a citizen of the united states means that we are entitled to government benefits? it must have come from FDR, who was the founder of this modern welfare state. perhaps we can blame LBJ’s Great Society. at this point, it doesn’t matter who created this mess of entitlements. we must fix it before our country suffers the fate of old Europe. at some point, European governments will be unable to finance all of the entitlements they provide.

we don’t have a right to government-paid health care, retirement, or the total financing of our pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. many Americans would disagree with me on this, but that’s probably because we have been conditioned to accept government largesse without considering what it costs to receive all of these government benefits. social security is a good example of this. I would like to bet that before social security was introduced, it never occurred to people that the government would finance their retirement.

we have programs in place like medicare, medicaid, and social security that take huge chunks of the federal budget every year, and costs continue to rise. yet no politician has the courage to take on the unpopular cause of reforming these programs or taking steps to reduce the costs of these entitlements. it needs to be done. it needs to be done soon.

with all that we know about the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of government programs and services (think DMV), how can we, in good conscience, propose that the government take on yet another wildly expensive entitlement program like universal health care? like many other liberal proposals, it is based on a feel-good philosophy. most Americans probably do believe that they have a right to health care and that it should be guaranteed to every American. it’s a feel-good position. most of us want to be seen as caring and compassionate and willing to help out our fellow citizens. that’s a wonderful platitude that means absolutely nothing concrete. the pollsters ask the wrong question. sure it would be great for everyone to have health care, but i’m not convinced that allowing the government to fund it is the best solution we can come up with to achieve that goal. it won’t reduce costs, and increased government regulation will add to the workload on medical professionals, taking away from time spent with patients.

services that are publicly funded generally don’t meet our expectations. the argument that there’s no opposition to public funding of education, and that health care shouldn’t be treated any differently is just silly. don’t we want better decisions to be made in health care than are being made in public education? are we satisfied with the results of our public education system? you don’t really need me to answer that, do you?

the important thing to remember here is that competition generally produces a better product. under some single-payer health care systems, such as Canada’s, private insurers are prohibited from offering duplicate services to the public system, and are only allowed to provide services that fill gaps in the national health coverage. there are still coverage gaps under this system. full coverage under any system is an unrealistic goal, but that’s what its proponents seem to be promising.

according to this report(pdf), in 2001, Canada spent 9.3% of its GDP(gross domestic product) on health care, which is higher than the average 8% spent by most industrialized countries. yet Canadians are still unhappy with the service they are receiving. some even are in favor of MORE PRIVATIZATION, not less. the report also concluded that the system had financing problems.

there is another legitimate concern with government-run health care, one that is rarely talked about. there have already been documented incidents in the Medicare system where unauthorized personnel have gotten access to patient records. for those who are concerned about privacy rights in other areas, like phone conversations, and fear that the government knows too much about your personal affairs, wouldn’t this concern you?

i have looked at the arguments pro and con for universal health coverage, and I am convinced that we can make reforms that would get us closer to full coverage without allowing total government control of health care. I am uncomfortable with government mandates on individuals and on businesses, even on such an important issue as health care, which is why I cannot support John Edwards’ health care plan. my intention is to cover edwards’ plan in more detail in a future post, so I won’t get into the details right now. (if you wish to look it over, here’s the link to the pdf.)

for more information on the subject, check out some of these links:
The Case for Universal Health Care (pdf)
The NHS: a dysfunctional insurer
universal health care –
single payer health care –

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