Friday, July 06, 2007

Leftie Inadvertently Makes Case Against Socialized Medicine

I've often said that government works much better as a sledgehammer than as a scalpel, meaning that it can do big things well (defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, build freeways, send men to the moon) but doesn't do so well when it tries to fine tune (War on Poverty, welfare).

This leftie says that part of the reason the US government doesn't do well in general is its "gigantism". I assert that's also why nationalized health care doesn't work in Europe or Canada and won't work here. I doubt he'd agree with me regarding health care, but he made the argument--I'm just agreeing with it.

The scalpel metaphor takes on a whole new meaning!

Update: A (former) Canadian tells us what health care in Canada is really like.

Government-run health care in Canada inevitably resolves into a dehumanizing system of triage, where the weak and the elderly are hastened to their fates by actuarial calculation. Having fought the Canadian health care bureaucracy on behalf of my ailing mother just two years ago - she was too old, and too sick, to merit the highest quality care in the government's eyes - I can honestly say that (Michael) Moore's preferred health care system is something I wouldn't wish on him.

Perhaps I'd wish it on him.

Even the Toronto Star agrees that Moore's endorsement of Canadian health care is overwrought and factually challenged. And the Star is considered a left-wing newspaper, even by Canadian standards.

That's pretty bad.

What's really amazing is that even the intended beneficiaries of Moore's propagandizing don't support his claims. The Supreme Court of Canada declared in June 2005 that the government health care monopoly in Quebec is a violation of basic human rights.

And the finale:

There's a good reason why my former countrymen with the money to do so either use the services of a booming industry of illegal private clinics, or come to America to take advantage of the health care that Moore denounces.

I'd say Q.E.D., but some people just don't let facts stand in the way of their political beliefs.

Update #2, 7/8/07: My admiration for Mark Steyn's writing knows no bounds, especially when he writes like this:

Some 40 percent of Britain's practicing doctors were trained overseas – and that percentage will increase, as older native doctors retire, and younger immigrant doctors take their place...When the president talks about needing immigrants to do "the jobs Americans won't do," most of us assume he means seasonal fruit pickers and the maid who turns down your hotel bed and leaves the little chocolate on it. But in the United Kingdom the jobs Britons won't do has somehow come to encompass the medical profession...According to a report in the British Medical Journal, white males comprise 43.5 percent of the population but now account for less than a quarter of students at UK medical schools. In other words, being a doctor is no longer an attractive middle-class career proposition. That's quite a monument to six decades of Michael Moore-style socialist health care.


Mrs. Bluebird said...

Hubby has a number of Canadian customers who are masters at complaining about how bad their health care is and how they'd rather save their $$$$, cross over to the U.S. and pay for decent care.

Anytime someone tells me they want big government health care, I ask them how much they enjoy waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles. They invariably complain about that so I make a point of reminding them that THAT is government at work (or not, as the case may be). Don't know about you, but my doctor's are a heck of a lot more efficient.

Darren said...

DMV, Post Office, TSA... What do we keep hearing about the wait and hoops to become a legal US immigrant? Tried to get a passport any time recently?

Anonymous said...

Um, Crispin Sartwell is a libertarian, not a leftie.

So most assuredly would agree with you about nationalized health care.

As well as on any number of other federal welfare programs.

The difference is, he understands that it's foolish to say that the same government that can't properly deliver the mail can, for example, build an entire country out of sand and rubble.

That is, he's consistent.

Darren said...

Considering that he describes himself as an *anarchist*, I'm not sure libertarian is exactly the right term I'd use.

But hey, nice swipe on Iraq. We should have left Saddam in charge there, eh? Or were you merely referring to the Taliban in Afghanistan?

Ellen K said...

Darren: As often as I post about this sort of liberal rhetoric from the likes of Michael Moore, I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that the American public is going to believe what it wants to believe even when the facts contradict all logic. All you have to do is watch Leno when he's doing "Jay Walking" and you see the average American voter. We are too easily swayed by the slick soundbite and the perky image. We want our facts in nutshells and we don't bother too much with details such as how to pay for such an enormous program as nationalized healthcare. Instead we whine and complain and expect some sort of psychic safety net to insure our every step and alleviate us from all blame or question. In a world where someone can become a millionaire by spilling hot coffee in their lap, can we really be surprised that people swallow Moore's production whole? I can't remember who said it-I think it was Jefferson-but they said voters "don't always get the government they want, but they do get the government they deserve." Our stupidity and ignorance and laziness will condemn us to a Third World status if things don't turn around soon.

allenm said...

While Sartwell is right about the result his metaphor is too flawed to be useful. When a dinosaur grows to a certain size the various body parts don't try to increase their size at the expense of the rest of the body, but not below that critical size.

It doesn't happen at all if you're a dinosaur. But it sure does if you're a government or part of a government.

He's also wrong about the reason for the ineffectiveness of socialized medicine. While sheer size is part of the problem it is by no means the entire problem.

A big part of the problems of socialized medicine springs from the division between responsibility and authority. The bureaucrat who has the authority to make life and death decisions isn't responsible to the people who have to live or die by those decisions. He's responsible to his higher-ups whose responsibility and authority are spelled out by enabling legislation.

It's the higher-ups who control the fate of the bureaucrat and carefully hewing to the rules, i.e. giving his superiors little heart burn, is the route to reward.

Then there's the fact that a socialized medicine system is a "commons" and all the usual rules apply there: grab as much as you can as fast as you can because if you don't someone else will.

Oh, and Anon? Your comparison of the mail to the exercise of nation-building is also unhelpful. The mail doesn't want to get delivered and one piece of mail doesn't gain anything by helping another piece of mail get to its destination. The Iraqi people, all people, would rather have a nice, boring, secure life. All they need is the chance to make it happen.

Ellen K said...

How can socialized medicine be financially possible when Americans aren't even willing to accept responsibility for some of the stupidity of their own action that create accidents? We have parents that expect kids to live these injury free lives and adults who think that the answer to every dumb action is a lawsuit. In that kind of atmosphere even the most minimal of nationalized medical plans would rapidly be bogged down in lawsuits and since everyone would demand the best care, we would have a glut of people getting care over and above their needs shutting out those who really need extra measures. In short, it would be a logistic disaster.

allenm said...

What lawsuits? I don't know specifically that ClintonCare contained immunity provisions but how could it be any other way? And how would it work? Would you sue an inept practitioner - they're government employees, no deep pockets there - or the organization that employs them? That'd be the federal government which enjoys broad immunity to lawsuits.

Besides, if the employees aren't immune to lawsuits they may be unduly influenced by their threat. Can't have that. Give them immunity as well.

I believe that takes care of the threat of lawsuits tidily enough.

The observation that everyone will "demand the best care" is self-evidently true since not to many people are going to demand second-class care even if that's what they end up getting.

There will, of course, have to be a special class of care reserved for whoever qualifies. That'll be as many people as can manage it any way they can manage it.

A "glut of people getting care over and above their needs" is called "The tragedy of the commons". Wikipedia has a decent if somewhat slanted explanation. Unfortunately, I can't link to it.

While "The tragedy of the commons" is a human tragedy its also an inevitability. It springs from how we're built as human beings and no amount of hand-wringing, or any other measure, is going to change that.

Since human nature isn't going to change, and if you accept that a commons inevitably results in a tragedy, the solutions obvious: look for any solution that doesn't result in the creation of a commons.