Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The hits keep on coming
Based on recent events, I strongly suspect we're headed for nationalized health care. If you think this is a good thing, I have a challenge for you. Name a problem that the federal government has solved with one of it's big programs.
Consider some of the Federal Government's past "achievements":
-Social Security: Bankrupt. I'll never get anything back from what I put in. And if the current retirees that "depend" on it would have put the money withheld from their checks into a simple index fund with modest returns, they'd have way more money on which to retire than Social Security provides.
-Medicare: A system that makes fraud easy and profitable.
-Medicaid: See above.
-The Community Reinvestment Act (In its various revisions): This one had a lot to do with the financial meltdown. It might ultimately have a lot to do with the next Great Depression.
-Federal Student Loans: Don't think this is a problem? I disagree.
-The Transportation Security Administration: Billions wasted on hassling travelers, in order to create the illusion of safety.
-The War on Terror: A mind-bogglingly expensive boondoggle that's cost the US more in both dollars and international goodwill than nearly anything we've done in decades. It's also cost innumerable lives. And when the enemy is "Terror", how long will it go on? Indefinitely, if it's anything like...
-The War on Drugs: We've probably spent trillions of dollars on this over the last few decades. What do we have to show for it? The highest incarceration rate in the world. And it's about as effective as...
-Prohibition. At least we eventually figured out this was a bad idea. Too bad it wasn't until after it allowed the Mafia to come to power.
-Economic sanctions on [INSERT COUNTRY HERE]: Seriously. These never work. You'd think we'd learn. Check out this clip:
What the hell can possibly be worth 1 million dead children? You wonder why the US is hated around the world. But while we're talking about children...
-No Child Left Behind: Test scores are increasing. But all this means is that kids are being taught how to take tests. And appparently we've created an epidemic of cheating teachers.
In each of the above situations, the Federal Government identified a problem that supposedly had to be addressed. Each time, proponents claimed that justice demanded the solutions they offered. Each time, we spent mind-boggling amounts of money. Accordingly, each time, we sank further into debt. Many times, the problem either became worse, or spawned tragic unintended consequences. Not once did the government solution fix the problem. Yet (with the exception of Prohibition) once these expansions of the Federal Government occurred, they were there for good.*
I'm not a pessimist. I'm a realist. If you hire a mechanic to fix your car, and after 10 tries, and thousands of dollars, the problem is actually worse, would you take the car back to him, with the hope that this time will be different? A careful look at the Federal Government's success rate should make it clear to anyone that it can't fix the health care situation. We shouldn't give it the chance.
*Prohibition was scaled back largely due to the fact that the Federal Government lost the enormous tax revenue from alcohol sales.