The answer is the amazing device that we casually and routinely refer to these days as the “stent.” There’s nothing particularly interesting or unusual any longer about the existence of these little man-made tubes - most Americans alive today have become accustomed to Medical Doctors inserting “stents” into people’s bodies as a means of treatment for everything from blocked arteries, to esophageal cancer, to prostate problems. And it is the installation of two of these little tubes, into one of his clogged arteries, that is enabling a quick recovery from the blockage itself, and, according to his Doctors, will allow President Bill Clinton to return to his “very active lifestyle” within the next day or two.
So where do stents come from? Are they manufactured by government-run healthcare systems in Europe and Canada? Has President Obama’s ancestral home of Kenya benevolently contributed stents to the global medical community?
Truthfully, the “stent market” is a worldwide enterprise, of which roughly 37% is headquartered here in the United States. On average, about a million stents are implanted each year. One of the world’s leading stent manufacturers, Boston Scientific Corporation, is headquartered in suburban Natick, Massachusetts.
This is to say that a for-profit, publicly traded corporation that operates within the environment of America’s capitalistic economic system manufactures and distributes these all-important little “man-made tubes.” Investors buy shares of Boston Scientific stock, with the goal of earning a return (yes, “making a profit”) on their investment. In the process, Boston Scientific produces both a “return on investment” for its share holders, as well as a bunch of life-saving devices.
And it is important to note that last Fall, Boston Scientific C.E.O. Ray Elliot observed that what President Obama and the Congress were prescribing for healthcare “reform” amounted to “bad medicine” for his company. After the Senate version of Obamacare cleared the Senate finance committee in October, shares of Boston Scientific plummeted, demolishing roughly $2.5 billion in market value. Why? Because the Senate Obamacare bill dramatically raises taxes on medical device manufacturers, as a means of paying for the new entitlement program.
The Senate bill would likely double the company’s annual tax liability, Elliot observed, suggesting that this would mean an additional $150 million to $200 million taken away from the company each year. This, in turn, would mean that the company would be left with less capital to spend on research and development – which would be, Elliot’s words, “very damaging to Boston Scientific, and the medical device industry as a whole…”
Such “damages” may be irrelevant to Barack Obama. The President, his predecessors, members of Congress, certain other government employees, and members of certain people groups that are politically helpful to the President – i.e., unionized assembly workers at G.M. – would, under the Obamacare plan, continue to receive the best in private healthcare regardless of its cost. Yet a decline in the medical device industry could mean a decline in lifespan, and quality of life, for millions of the rest of us.
These consequences are inevitable, even if un-intended, when politicians simplistically view free-market enterprise as a villain.
And America would be better-off right now, if only President Obama had the “heart” – and mind – to respect our American system of capitalism.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.