Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, as a small child, I was told one of those old-fashioned fables for children. It was about a dog with a bone in his mouth, who was walking on a log across a stream.

The dog looked down into the water and saw his reflection. He thought it was another dog with a bone in his mouth-- and it seemed to him that the other dog's bone was bigger than his. He decided that he was going to take the other dog's bone away and opened his mouth to attack. The result was that his own bone fell into the water and was lost.

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At the time, I didn't like that story and wished they hadn't told it to me. But the passing years and decades have made me realize how important that story was, because it was not really about dogs but about people.

Today we are living in a time when the President of the United States is telling us that he is going to help us take that other dog's bone away-- and the end result is likely to be very much like what it was in that children's fable.

Whether we are supposed to take that bone away from the doctors, the hospitals, the pharmaceutical companies or the insurance companies, the net result is likely to be the same-- most of us will end up with worse medical care than we have available today. We will have opened our mouth and dropped a very big bone into the water.

While I was told a story in my childhood to help me understand something about the real world, today adults are being told things to reduce them to childish thinking.

The most childish of all the things being said in the august setting of a joint session of Congress last week was that millions of people can be added to the government's health insurance plan without increasing the federal deficit at all.

If the President of the United States could do that, it is hard to imagine what he would do as an encore. Walking on water would be an anticlimax.

What is equally childish is the notion that the great majority of Americans who have medical insurance, and who say they are satisfied with it, should be panicked and stampeded into supporting vast increases in the arbitrary power of Washington bureaucrats to take medical decisions out of the hands of their doctors-- all ostensibly because a minority of Americans do not have medical insurance.

There was a time, within living memory, when most Americans did not have health insurance-- and it was not the end of the world, as so many in politics and the media seem to be depicting it today.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate