Suppose, however, a politician decides that we can't leave these decisions to individual consumers, but, in the name of public safety, government will mandate that everyone must buy a bigger, heavier car. And if you can't afford it, the government (i.e., taxpayers) will pay for it.
Do you suppose the result will be poor decision-making and a lot of waste?
Are you beginning to understand why our health-care system is such a mess?
What might parents consider regarding the HPV vaccine? There were 3,700 fatalities in 2006 from this disease, which, as The Washington Times points out, is less than 1/100th of 1 percent of the U.S. population of women over age 18.
Furthermore, the risk of exposure can be reduced to the realm of the remote simply by avoiding sexual promiscuity.
Given this picture, anyone who wants to pay Merck $400 and vaccinate a daughter should be free to do so. But, does it make any kind of economic sense for the government to mandate that every girl must be vaccinated, regardless of who she is, how she behaves, who her parents are and what they can afford and prefer?
Furthermore, would we even be talking about this possibility if the cost of the government mandate wouldn't be simply passed through insurance companies, who will then raise rates, and government programs paid for by taxpayers?
It's interesting to compare two corporate exercises in crisis management over the past week. One was Merck's handling of the backlash against its lobbying effort. The other was the backlash against Bank of America's new policy of making credit cards available to illegal immigrants.
The financial institution's CEO wrote a long op-ed in The Wall Street Journal explaining the decision and why it was going to continue the program.
Where was Merck's CEO? There was only a brief announcement by a mid-level spokesman that company officials were ending the lobbying campaign. There was no statement about whether they felt they were right or wrong in the first place.
What's the difference? Bank of America answers directly to consumers. Merck customers are politicians and bureaucrats.
This is what is wrong with our system. And this is the universal health care that Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have in store for us.