Streetwise Professor

February 21, 2010


Filed under: Economics,Politics — The Professor @ 9:17 am

There are reports that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are planning to implement health care deform legislation through a reconciliation procedure that would require only 50 votes (plus Biden’s) to pass the Senate.

Obama assures us that he is not an ideologue.  His supporters assert that he is very intelligent.  But only an ideologue or an idiot would attempt to use such parliamentary chicanery to force the passage of transformational legislation that will affect the life of every American against the intense opposition of a healthy majority of the electorate.

The immediate political consequences of this action would be devastating to those who take it.  The substance is bad enough.  But adding procedural insult to substantive injury will intensify the fury of the backlash.  An idiot would not know: an ideologue would not care.

But an ideologue would be willing to incur these political costs in order to achieve a deeply held desire to increase vastly the intrusions of the state into our lives, knowing that such a change would be (a) very difficult to reverse, and (b) would fundamentally alter the relationship the citizenry and the state in a way s/he greatly desires; the ideologue would reason that the long term political consequences would be well worth the short term political costs.

An idiot would be willing to take this action, not knowing any better, because, well s/he is an idiot.

Pelosi and Reid (and their most ardent lieutenants) are hell-bent on health-care-legislation-at-any-cost because they are idiotic ideologues.  We shall soon see whether this description fits Obama as well.

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  1. Actually, I think he is an idiot. I think he has given ample evidence for it. My only hope is that he is too much of an opportunist to do things for ideological ends. He pretends to be an idealist, but deep inside he is more cynical than most of the politicians.

    Comment by MJ — February 21, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  2. Lol! SWP is bent out of shape that Republicans may fail to obstruct a plan differing in only trivial aspects from Republican governor Mitt Romney’s

    Comment by rkka — February 21, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  3. Brown / Palin 2012

    Let the good times roll.

    Comment by TRex — February 21, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

  4. Words can’t do justice at this moment I’m at the keyboard. This health care boondoggle is a tipping point to me. It’s a giant leap on the road to serfdom, as Mr. Hayek so eloquently elaborated upon. 50 or so people telling ME what to do with my own health care. Nice. SWP, unfortunately having it be difficult to reverse is not a concern for an ideologue, as you mentioned. It doesn’t do any good to threaten them with that. They’re still patting themselves on the back for our bankrupt Social Security and Medicare systems. The same goes with saying we’re headed toward socialism. That’s not a dirty word like it used to be. All of this is absolutely sickening.

    Comment by Howard Roark — February 21, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  5. Bowie, the road to serfdom is debt bondage, and it’s Republicans who put us there. It was Saint Ronnie who signed the first debt limit exceeding one terabuck. Okay, blame ALL of that on the Democrats. George Dubya’s FY 09 put us past ten terabucks. Obama actually spent 28 gigabucks less in FY 09 than the CBO estimated he would prior to Inauguration Day.

    Comment by rkka — February 21, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  6. I don’t recall giving anyone any pardons. And by the way, the “I disagree with Obama, so therefore I agree with everything Bush ever did” response gets really old. It’s quite witless. Please try something new.

    Comment by Howard Roark — February 21, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

  7. Excellent. Hopefully this is just the start of a process in which the state becomes powerful enough to institute an technocratic, ecosocialist system, which by now is likely the only way to force us back from global overshoot and dieoff.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — February 21, 2010 @ 11:50 pm

  8. Perhaps it’s time for the pitchforks & Axes!

    Comment by Bob — February 22, 2010 @ 12:02 am

  9. what do you propose on healthcare?

    Comment by nathan resnick — February 22, 2010 @ 9:09 am

  10. Hey, Nate-

    Incremental changes, but important ones. First, eliminate the tax preference for employer provided coverage. Second, reduce the many mandates that require people to purchase coverage they don’t want. (Most of these mandates are political sops to providers of particular services.) Third, eliminate the balkanization of the insurance market. Fourth, tort reform.

    To get real cost control, it is necessary for individuals to bear more of the costs for treatment decisions. Third-party payment for routine procedures (regardless of whether that 3d party is the gov’t or an insurance company) makes no economic sense.

    Eliminating the linkage between employment and insurance (which is encouraged by the tax preference for employer provided coverage) will reduce some of the problems relating to loss of coverage, but the pre-existing conditions issue is more complicated.

    The current market is dysfunctional, but many of the dysfunctional features are the direct result of previous gov’t interventions. The proposals on offer, especially Obama’s most recent one, complete with price controls will make things far worse.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 22, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  11. Additionally, I think some lessons should be taken from the financial derivatives’ markets.

    The health coverage policies should be more innovative and flexible. They should be crafted so that to omit certain types of risks from coverage – when you cover absolutely all risks, surely it becomes more expansive. Medical savings accounts should be encouraged through appropriate taxation policies, for example, which could be bundled with 401Ks and the like.

    Furthermore, associations should be allowed more freely and trenches of underlying policies should be structured more diversely.

    If the government has to or wants to play a role, it could deal with certain types of residual risks as safety net.

    However, I think it is more appropriate for the reinsurance companies to provide such functionality.

    Comment by MJ — February 23, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  12. Professor, I’m not sure about the tort reform. I like tort, it’s better than regulation. In common law, I think, tort is generally limited by due diligence. If you can show you exercised due diligence, you should be fine. And loser pays should be common sense. I don’t know much about tort law in the US, so maybe they don’t have that. But, I don’t like limits on tort. Otherwise, your suggestions make complete sense. See also “How American Health Care killed my Father” in The Atlantic.

    Comment by dc — February 25, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

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