A huge headline on the front of a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine said more than they intended: "Now Are We Ready to Talk About Health Care?" Inside was an article with the same title by Hillary Clinton.
The casual arrogance of that question is staggering. We talked endlessly about Hillary's proposed government-run medical system a decade ago and decided against it for many reasons. Now this re-run of the same issues proceeds as if the question is whether the rest of us are "ready" to talk about such things.
Senator Clinton parades the usual litany of reasons why the government should run the medical system, beginning with "soaring health costs and millions of uninsured." But, not only does she offer nothing that will actually reduce those costs, she declares that "our mental health delivery system is underfinanced."
In other words, she wants to spend more money on shrinks. Can you imagine what will happen to costs if unverifiable diseases and unverifiable cures provide blank checks to be paid by the taxpayers?
"Universal health care" is a lovely phrase with political resonance in some quarters. But what does it mean concretely?
First of all, since people differ in what they want, nothing can be "universal" without being mandatory. In other words, we are talking about forcing people to belong to whatever program the politicians and bureaucrats come up with, regardless of what the people themselves might prefer.
As for health, it is the end result of many things -- diet, exercise, genetics, lifestyle -- most of which are beyond the scope of government. What the government can control -- doctors, hospitals, medicines -- are only part of the equation.
What the lovely phrase "universal health care" boils down to is politicians and bureaucrats forcing people to get their medical treatment and pharmaceutical drugs the way the politicians and bureaucrats decide.
Somehow, the notion seems to be insinuated that the government can do it cheaper and better. But name three things that the government does cheaper and better than private individuals and organizations. It would be no trick at all to name dozens of things that the government does worse and at higher costs.
How is it going to be cheaper to manage hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical drugs, when it is going to take an army of bureaucrats and tons of red tape to do it? Economists say that there is no free lunch. There is no free red tape either.