Saturday, March 20, 2010

Public Education and Public Options: A Record of Government Failure, Lies, and Broken Promises

(More) government provided health care would do for the American medical system did what public schools and public funding of universities did for education: Lead to cost overruns and deteriorating quality of service.

Increases in government control and funding of health care and education are in the latest version of the "health care reform" legislation. Unfortunately, the passage and implementation of this particular legislation would lead to a worsening of the problems in both the educational and medical systems, and will only exacerbate the problems in cost and quality.

Let us first get a snapshot of public education to examine the government's track record. To summarize, public education is an abject failure in this country by any objective standard.
1. Failing to compete internationally: Academic Failure - International Test Scores - Poor TIMSS Results
2. Centers of public indoctrination: Table of Contents - John Taylor Gatto
3. Dumbs kids down: John Stossel's 'Stupid in America' - ABC News
4. College education standards declining: U.S. slipping in education rankings -
5. Massive official and unofficial cost overruns for public schools: They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools | Adam B. Schaeffer | Cato Institute: Policy Analysis
6. Public universities gouge the American taxpayer (this is not what the liberal writers claim, but their "narrative" is pretty laughable): College Costs, Student Aid Continue to Rise -

Overall, education is not a public good it is nearly a government monopoly, and will become closer to becoming so under the "health care reform" legislation under consideration. For the same reason that monopolies in the private sector are bad, those in the public sector are bad; they promote inefficiency and inferior goods and services. This is a simple fact, and if one side cannot even acknowledge it, then the conversation is truly dead. When "public goods" are underwritten by the coercive power of the state, a sign that what is being offered, at least the way it is being offered, is not really a "public good" at all.

When a "public good" becomes taken over by the state, it becomes a tool of the state. This is not a controversial statement. Either by looking out across the world and taking a serious, hard look at what happens when states take over economy and society, or by looking historically, it is never a good sign when the government gets monopoly control. But I guess some people prefer a world without choice, and the same can be said of health care.

A few brief words on that. The government is already a huge insurer of health care in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA. This means there is not only a public option, there are public options - in addition to mandated emergency room coverage for those unable to pay. Massive debt, kneecapping doctors with price ceilings, and inefficient, deplorable service by the majority of participants' standards are but a few criticisms one can lodge at the government's public options. Many of these complaints can easily be found elsewhere for the intellectually curious.

I can anticipate a few objections to the "abysmal state" of American health care among its proponents and the need for "reform now."

1. Lying with statistics about U.S. infant mortality rate: We're Number Two?
2. The "46 million", wait, 30 million figure is overinflated: Obama: I used to say 47 million uninsured. Now, it's 30 million. | Washington Examiner
3. Most Americans have health care. See the U.S. Census Bureau statistics: - White House Claim of 46 Million Uninsured 'Americans' Includes Almost 10 Million Foreigners

"According to “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States,” a Census Bureau report published in August 2008, there were 45.6 million persons in the United States who did not have health insurance in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available. However, the report states that 9.7 million of these uninsured persons were not U.S. citizens. [...]

Of the 299 million people in the United States in 2007, 253.4 million had health insurance. The vast majority of those—202 million—had private health insurance, according to the Census Bureau."

4. Eight in ten say they are happy with their health care: Poll: Health care costs too expensive, Americans say -

5. Most people say unhappy with cost (one could say this about nearly anything, by the way). So here are some proven ways to lower costs, which are in the Republican health care proposals: - Republicans Have Offered Three Alternative Health Care Reform Bills

6. Public mandates health care in Massachusetts is a disaster: CATO - Lessons from the Fall of Romneycare

[See also this line from Justice Louis Brandeis, a favorite of the left, who happens to be wrong here: "(A) single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory, and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”]

7. U.S. health plans have a history of cost overruns

"In 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that the hospital insurance program of Medicare - the federal health care program for the elderly and disabled - would cost $9 billion by 1990. The actual cost that year was $67 billion.

In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee said the entire Medicare program would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual cost in 1990 was $98 billion.

In 1987, Congress projected that Medicaid - the joint federal-state health care program for the poor - would make special relief payments to hospitals of less than $1 billion in 1992. Actual cost: $17 billion. "

This is all leaving aside that it is blatantly obvious that the government cannot constitutionally force you to purchase a good or service. But doesn't the government already do that? With the NEA, numerous museums and homages to statists and their promoters, and other frivolous wastes of hard-earned taxpayer money? I guess in some people's world, this "status quo" is all they know, and comes with the absolute moral sanction of precedent. Let me resolve this moral dilemma for the left. People do not have a "right" to anything that compels another human being to serve them. That should be clear enough for even the most oblique of thinkers to comprehend.

It is impossible to anticipate the every objection of the strident, petulant left who thinks the world owes them and every creature on the planet something. This is the beauty of being a modern liberal or a neomarxist. You get to criticize "the system" without having to offer alternatives that are proven to work in the real world. The government does not work in the real world in most cases, people do when left to pursue what they perceive to be their self-interests. How do people learn? From their mistakes. Yet when one has government, there are never enough mistakes to "fix," and the problems that remain can always be blamed on "the system" (i.e. "capitalism"), even if it is the government actually creating the mistakes (one might even think sometimes on purpose. See: "Never waste a good crisis"...hmm).

The left is supporting a "health care reform" plan that has little to do with health care or reform, but power-grabbing by the Democrats in Congress and their client-groups. The text of the legislation proves that it will be a freedom-crushing debacle. But isn't that what the modern left's virtue has come to? The acquisition of power for power's sake. If you are on the left, or lean left, at least acquire the temporary good judgment not to support this specific legislation.

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