By Larry Marsh, Kansas City Star Midwest Voices columnist, 2009
Elderly on Medicare and Social Security are not the only ones living with socialism in this country. In most urban communities if there is a fire in your home, you call the socialist fire department. If someone tries to break in, you call the socialist police department. Why are there few, if any, book rental companies in America? That would be because of all those socialist libraries. Most people got their education in socialist elementary and secondary schools.
Then there’s that socialist worker who drops off the mail at your home six times a week. Is it time to stop the spread of all this socialism?
A close relative called me the other day gravely concerned about the rush towards socialist medicine. Her favorite talk radio show has been expounding on the evils of socialism again. She seemed beside herself with worry. I tried to calm her fears by pointing out that as a retiree she is already under socialized medicine. As a county social worker she spent her life as a socialist worker directing her clients to various county socialist services.
Conservatives and liberals have one thing in common. They are both worried about an evil authoritarian entity controlling them and exploiting them. For conservatives it’s big government. For liberals it’s big business.There is something about fear that causes careful, logical analysis to fly out the window. Reforming health insurance will require a great deal of thought and hard work by the moderate middle. It’s much easier to take things to extremes and talk in slogans, but it’s not likely to lead to an optimal solution for a very complex problem.
In general do public companies crowd out private ones? In Brazil there have always been a substantial number of public companies competing with private ones. In many places such as Eastern Europe and China private companies have been crowding out unprofitable public ones. There is nothing inevitable about a public company crowding out a private one or vice versa. It all depends on the nature of the market and the rules of the game.
Consider how public and private companies have fared in America in the past. The post office dominated the mail delivery service until recent years when UPS and FedEx among others have taken over a great deal of the more profitable business and are gradually crowding out the public option which is constrained by the political necessity of providing home delivery to every citizen. The public library has prevented the development of an extensive book rental market, but, so far, has not done much to deter private DVD rental businesses like Blockbuster and Netflix although digital downloads could change that before long.
Throughout American history private schools have competed with public schools. Public education has certainly not crowded out private education. If anything it is public tax-supported education that is on the ropes and in danger of losing out more and more to its private competitors.
Private security services have maintained a strong presence in the commercial security business while the public law enforcement has focused on the equal application of the law to rich and poor alike. Volunteer fire services generally only operate in smaller, rural communities and private fire protection services of an emergency nature are not really viable for protecting the general public. Tax-supported public fire departments play a vital role.
The general conclusion is that the picture is very mixed with the socialist approach sometimes dominating and sometimes only filling in with necessary, but unprofitable, community services.
The bottom line is that effective and fair competition is essential to controlling costs. Any health insurance system should be designed to maintain as much competition as possible with effective incentives to drive down costs while achieving key goals such as universal coverage (analogous to the post office’s universal delivery) and no rejection for pre-existing medical conditions.
Left wing and right wing slogans will not solve this problem. Only a carefully designed, comprehensive health insurance system will fill the bill.
(copped from The Star, photos and emphasis added by the bloggmeister)