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Not With My Kid You Don't The End of Socialized Medicine?

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Can Conservatives Show That "We Care?"

by Christopher Chantrill
October 24, 2007 at 4:06 pm

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LAST WEEK President Bush successfully stopped the expansion of S-CHIP into the liberal slacker classes.

After last week the creative children of well-to-do parents who would rather buy fancy cars than pay for health insurance will have to pause for a moment.

For this important ethical and moral victory the president should be celebrated forever as one of our greatest presidents.

Meanwhile the Democrats showed once again that they “cared about the children.”

Never mind that it’s all just a huge bluff.

Government is there to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic. It doesn’t do that job very well, but it’s better than the alternative.

Everything else is fluff., and very expensive fluff at that. The newly legislated fluff always looks wonderful. But after a while it always turns into rotting bureaucratic sludge.

Fluff? Health care and education are fluff? Let’s take a look at the great heads of government spending for FY 2008 on usgovernmentspending.com. The numbers are all budgeted and estimated.

United States Federal, State, and Local Government Spending
Fiscal Year 2008
Amounts in billions of dollars
Pensions: $910.0
Health Care: $916.5
Education: $836.7
Defense: $692.0
Welfare: $436.4

We are talking about all levels of government, of course.

Here’s the dirty little secret that explains why it’s mostly fluff. All that money we spend on health care and education—we don’t know if it is doing any good.

You start to get the picture from Rising Life Expectancy by James C. Riley. There are six areas for reducing mortality: “public health, medicine, wealth and income, nutrition, behavior, and education,” he writes. But researchers find it very difficult to separate out the significance of each area. One thing is certain; the importance of medicine has been greatly over-hyped. Needless to say, more research is needed.

Robin Hanson of CATO confirms Riley’s finding. He writes that we don’t have a clue about the effectiveness of health care. Although health experts know this they are nervous about telling us. Anyway we just don’t believe them.

Non-health-policy experts are probably shocked to hear my claims. Most students in my eight years of teaching health economics have simply not believed me, even after a semester of reviewing the evidence.

Here’s an example of what Hanson is talking about. RAND health insurance study in 1978-82 assigned two thousand families to various health insurance plans from free to full price. The result was inconclusive; the health of some poor families even got worse after they got free health insurance.

What is going on?

The key to understanding “health-care,” Hanson suggests, comes after the hyphen. It is all about care, not health.

[H]umans long ago evolved a tendency to use medicine to ‘show that we care,’ rather than just to get healthy.

That was the point that the Democrats were trying to make over the S-CHIP expansion. It wasn’t the money. They just wanted to show that they cared.

This is the brilliant idea that supports the welfare state. The welfare state doesn’t actually do anything; it just shows that we care.

Look at the top three heads of government spending above. If the government didn’t have its pension programs then people would just knuckle down and save some more. Families that couldn’t save enough would coalesce into multigenerational compounds.

If the government didn’t have its health programs then people would be a lot more careful about their health and their medical spending, and the overall life-expectancy in the United States probably wouldn’t change.

If the government didn’t have its education programs then people would spend their own money on education. Most parents can probably afford the three-to-four years of the schooling it takes to achieve basic literacy and numeracy. They would quickly that most children shouldn’t go to high school. Instead they should get jobs!

But how would we show that “we care?”

Arthur Brooks has shown in Who Really Cares that government charity approximately displaces private charity one-for-one. It costs more, of course, because with government charity you have to pay for all the bureaucracy and the inefficiency, not to mention the gigantic information technology systems to keep track of all those health-and-welfare programs.

Here’s an idea for young up-and-coming conservative thinkers. The current welfare state is unjust to women. It crowds out and marginalizes their natural charitable instincts and prevents them from being all they can be and demonstrating that “we care.”

In the welfare state only politicians and activists get to show that they care.

Think about it. The glorious feminist revolution has pitched women out of their local face-to-face neighborhood communities. It has converted them from caring friends and neighbors into “helping professionals.” In the old days they used to converse and network to help each other and show that they cared. Now they are stuck in gigantic social-service bureaucracies where their natural caring instincts and emotions are rigidly controlled by a huge rule-book.

How can anyone endure for a moment longer this monstrously unjust and unnatural system?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


Religion, Property, and Family

But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family. Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


Conservatism

Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


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