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Sunday, March 28, 2010

HealthCare Bill is a Failure

There are two common ways to form a view with regard to healthcare. One is to rationally propose a way to fix it. Another way is to get emotional about it and simply pick an opinion which makes you feel good. The standard liberal approach to healthcare is nothing but feel good politics. It is an opinion formed around emotions. The standard liberal argument that I hear over and over again is that, "it is wrong for people to pay for healthcare, and it is bad that people have no health insurance, profits are evil, no one should profit from sick people, therefore healthcare should be available to everyone". Okay, that is very nice to hear, but I want to hear an actual proposed rational solution to fix healthcare. Emotional arguments which are not based on any rational considerations are dangerous. For example, consider if I was to say the following argument, "many Africans have no healthcare whatsoever, we do, therefore it is the moral thing, the kind thing, to send them aid for healthcare". So I was to propose sending all our money to Africa instead of spending it on ourselves. Would that be a terrible policy? Of course, it would bankrupt the entire country. It is certainly based on feel good politics but the implications of such a policy would be disastrous if it was to actually happen. Therefore, with regard to healthcare we need a rational argument, it is not good enough to propose a feel good argument. We can talk about how kind and moral it is to provide everyone with healthcare or health insurance but that does nothing whatsoever to defend whether or not this policy would be good for the country. What I want to hear from anyone who supports this bill or universal healthcare is a rational argument not feel good politics. I want to give one more example of feel good politics. There is this atheist on YouTube, I do not really watch him, but I have heard of him a long time ago, he usually makes videos with regard to atheism, but once he made a video on healthcare. Watch this video. This video makes me want to commit suicide. I watch through the entire video without seeing a single rational argument proposed. This kind of liberal argument of feel good politics is not an exception, it is common, I hear this often.

I am not saying that there are no thought out arguments in favor of universal healthcare or a single-payer system, I am simply trying to show that many people who support such policies do so only because of emotional 'reasons', not thought out economics arguments. Let us then examine some of the economic arguments that supporters of universal healthcare or single-payer system or Barack Obama's plan use, moral arguments (the most common kind of defense of these systems which comes from the left wing) are irrelevant without an economic justifications.

A common defense of government involvement in healthcare (whatever system it happens to be) is by comparing the United States healthcare system to other advanced countries. Something like the UK, or Sweden, or Cananda, and so forth. What supporters of government run healthcare (or health insurance) do is mention that in these countries healthcare is better than in the United States, therefore we can see that government run healthcare is a good idea. I call this fallacy the "foreigner's fantasy fallacy". Foreigner's fantasy is by looking at another country, seeing an improvement over his own country, and concluding that the other country is better than his own. Furthermore, what often is done is a huge bombardment of statistics that supposedly justifies his fantasy. Let us get statistics out of the way first. I do not have much respect for people who bombard their arguments with statistics, i.e. like Paul Krugman. Statistics are fine to use, the problem is when statistics become too complicated. When statistics are too complicated we need to question how the numbers were actually collected. It is very easy to deceive with statistics. This is the caution that we must be aware of. This is why I am not comfortable around statistics, especially the more complicated they get. Simple statistics are fine. It is more difficult to deceive with simple statistics. But even with simple statistics we need to be careful. Let us return back to foreigner's fantasy. Many liberals like to point to Canada and say they have a superior healthcare system than our own. The problem with this argument is that it does not look at everything. I agree that in some ways the Canadian system is better than the one in the United States, but at the same time, the system in the United States is better in some ways than the system in Canada. This is why I call this fallacy a fantasy, because the foreigner looks at the positive side of a forgein healthcare system and not on the negative side. A way Canada's system is better than the United State's system is that everyone in Canada is insuranced. Therefore, no one in Canada ever has to be worried about that he will be unable to pay for healthcare. In the United States there is a worry that people have with paying off their medical bills. In that way, I agree, the Canadian system is better than the United States system. But to make a fair comparison look at a negative side of the Canadian system. In Canada a lot of people have ended up on waiting lists. I am not trying to spread fear around here, I am not saying that Canadians have to suffer because they have to wait. Canadians live healthy lives and get healthcare, but what I am saying is that a lot of Canadians ended up on waiting periods because there was not enough supply. This is not the kind of problem found in the United States. In the United States one can find himself a doctor very quickly. The United States also is the largest innovator of new drugs. (Yes, I realize that I used a statistic here, but I think this statistic is innocent, I would take it back if someone can tell me why it is unfair to use this statistic.) Therefore, we should not look at Canada, see a superior side of it, and conclude from that that Canadians are better with healthcare than the United States. Nor, (this is what conservatives do) look at the United States, see an advantage and conclude the United States is superior to Canada. I am not saying here that the United States is a superior system to Canada, nor am I saying that Canada is superior to the United States, all I trying to show here is that we need to be careful when we fantasize about other countries and our own country, we need to focus on their negative sides as well and compare it to ourselves. Indeed, this forgeiner's fantasy might get so severe that some liberals (Michael Moore for instance) actually believe that Cuba has a superior healthcare system to the United States.

Now let us actually concentrate on the bill that got passed since this post is after all about Barack's bill and not government run healthcare in general. Throwing away the emotional 'reasons' and concentrating only on the emoconomic ones, the supporters of this bill claim it will insure all citizens and reduce the costs. Let us concentrate on these two claims.

First, let us consider the claim that it will insure all citizens. Of course, "all" means something like 98% or 99%, but whatever that is a trivial observation. Nearly ever single citizen will become insured under this new policy. Is that therefore not a good thing? We have insured so many more people, how can it not be good? The people who had no insurance now have insurance, who can possibly object to that other than the greedy capitalist pigs? The answer is that, it is not necessarily a good thing. To illustrate what I mean consider the following exaggerated example. Suppose that every person became insured but the insurance policy is now ten times the ammount of what it was. Is this an improvement over our healthcare system? Of course not, it damaged it. The percentage of insured and uninsured people is irrelevent if the costs are high. This bill can only be a success if it will bring down the costs.

This brings up to the second claim, the fundamental claim, that the cost of insurance will go down. This immediately raises the question. Why would the cost come down? What reason is there to think the cost will go down? I can only think of two reason that people think of when they say that costs will go down. One is that the government said that this program is going to reduce the costs. Second is that the government will pass laws on the insurance companies to set their prices.

Politicians who support this bill certainly claim that it will reduce the costs, but why should we trust them? This is not the first time politicians say that a government program will be successful and it is not. We heard the same thing with Medicare when it was first introduced. We heard the same thing with Social Security. The claim was that Social Security will support itself. It does not support itself. It is a big giant ponzi scheme that is bankrupting the nation. So why should we trust the claim by the government that says that this new bill will lower the costs? The truth is that the government does not care about you. It could not possibly care less about you. It is a Leviathan that only cares about the accumulation of more power for itself. The government has problems with providing aid to its own citizens, but when it comes to spending more money on the military and on its own power, it has no problem. If the government actually cared about its citizens and if it cared about life then it would end the unnecessary war in the middle east. Not just saving United States soldiers but saving the lives of the innocent Iraqis. With all the money that is saved, at least one trillion, it can spend that money to help the citizens with their healthcare. Does the government do that? No, because it does not care about you. We need to be realistic about this point. Thus, there is no trust and credibility left in the government to trust when it claims that the costs of insurance will go down. I repeat the question again, why trust the government when it claims that costs will go down?

What if someone says that the government will lower prices? Does this not mean that the costs would be lower? To answer this question consider the following question. If people are depressed can the government pass a law against depression and everyone would be happy? There is no person who would tell us that such a law would be successful. Because the government cannot pass laws against reality. The market price is reality. It is almost like the laws of physics. It cannot be manipulated. No person can know the price, only the market. There are various economic laws that determine the market prices. The government cannot decide what the correct prices have to be any more than being able to decide what the gravitational constant needs to be. Laws that violate reality do not work.

It is not only economic laws which are violated if the government tries to change the prices, but it is also probability laws within an insurance plan. Insurance is all about discrimination. One does not need to know much math or probability theory to be able to understand that insurance companies are build around discrimination, just basic common sense. Consider a fire insurance company that did not discriminate. If my house is on fire I can call up the insurance company and tell them I would like to buy insurance. They would ask me the condition of my house. I will tell them it is half burned down. They would obviously reject me. They discriminated against them. They have to discriminate against me. Otherwise they be giving away money. Insurance companies that do not discriminate will simply not be in business. Sorry if that makes any liberal reader feel bad but that is how the math works out, sometimes the truth is not pleasant. It is all about discrimination. Now suppose that the government requires every insurance company to insure every citizen no matter what. Then insurance rates must go up. This is not the matter of what the law is, it is the matter of how the mathematics works out. If everyone can get insured including all the people who are already sick then the insurance rates will have to go up. If the government fixes the prices then the insurance companies would be losing money since the costs would exceede the prices. This is why when Barack Obama said that "it will not be subsidized by the taxpayers" is a big huge error. That is just not how insurance policies work. One does not even need to know much math, just basic common sense.

There is one and only one way to reduce market prices. That is by having a competitive market. I want to make it very clear that I do not support the healthcare system we have in the United States at the moment. I am very much against it. Just because I am against government run-healthcare (or insurnace) does not mean that I support the system we have know. What I support is a market based solution which will lower the prices and improve the quality of healthcare. This is why I favor a competative healthcare system, but it is too late, very few people would be on my side on this, so it is never going to happen.

The effects of Barack Obama's bill will be disatrous. It is a complete failure as explained above, but moreover it is a disater. This will bankrupt the country even further. The United States is already in massive debt. Debt it will never repay. Medicare, Social Security, the massive military empire, the war, have bankrupted the country. We cannot continue to borrow money. And we cannot continue to print (counterfeit) more money, that only creates an illusion of more wealth. This bill will bankrupt the country even further. This country is finished. And it is not Barack to blame. I do not hate Barack, no not at all. There is nothing bad about him. He cannot be made into a scapegoat, he is just representing the people. The United States was in a lot of trouble a long time before Barack took office. The country failed to have been fiscaly responsible. And now the citizens are paying the price. If an individual exhausts all his credit, by buying and buying and buying, by borrowing, by taking loans, and so forth, without an ability to repay, he will be indebt forever, he will never escape his fainacial debt. So what makes up think that if the United States keeps on borrowing, printing, ponzi scheming the debt around that it will ever go away? It is too late now. George Carlin was correct when he said that the United States has long jumped off a cliff and now is in free fall mode. The question is when will it hit the ground?


  1. hey, just finished browsing through various posts of yours, and i was quite struck by how similar I am to you. I, too, had an orthodox jewish education (even DID the semi-obligatory post-highschool year in Israel) but always felt that something seemed a bit 'off' about orthodox judaism. well, I majored in biology in undergrad, (pre-med) having always loved the sciences, since I found that they made so much sense. towards the end of my undergrad experience, i took a class that was really intensely about evolution, and the professor asked us to read "The Selfish Gene," by Richard Dawkins. that was pretty much the 'biginning of the end' for me, and spurred me to do more research into seriously tackling questions i had always had. that class ended almost a year ago, and i have been an atheist since last june. from what i have read in your blog, it seems like you and i share a common fear of 'coming out' about our beliefs. it is indeed formidable, and i still do keep most orthodox practices, at least in public.(as you may notice, i am writing this to you on shabbat, so clearly i don't keep EVERYthing, lol). anyways, i just wanted to say: keep it up! we are on solid philosophical and scientific ground, and a religious dogma simply does not jive with reason and skepticism, both of which are important traits for us humans to utilize. be well!

  2. Metlhed666: Congratulations on becoming a skeptic! It makes me very happy to hear that more people are becoming rational about the world. But at the same time it sucks that you had to waste a year of your life in Israel. See, I was very lucky. Everyone in my class went to yeshiva, either in Israel or the United States. I was the only one in my entire class who knew exactly what I wanted to know. Every since I was a little kid I loved mathematics, and I had my mind made up a long time before even graduating that I want to go into mathematics. Thus, upon graduation I was simply not interested in wasting a year of my life in Israel or yeshiva, so I went to college instead. Haha.

    By the way, I am surprised why you would comment on my post regarding the healthcare bill. It does not have anything to do with skepticism, so it is a surprise why you would choose to comment on this post as opposed to all others.

    I am also responding to your post on shabbos. ^.^