It is no secret that more of today’s American youth prefer socialism than older citizens. After all, Bernie Sanders gathered up a large majority of his supporters from millennials and the underage. According to University of Chicago study, 62% of Americans between the age of 18-34 believe that “we need a strong government to handle today’s complex economic problems”. Another study from the Victims of Communism foundation found that 44% of millennials would prefer to live in a country with socialist policies.
The question soon arises of why the youth seem to show affection towards a system that has historically failed. The answer, though, is not so simple.
Socialist Policies and Time Preference
Time preference theory states that with all things being equal, a person prefers current wealth over future wealth. Different factors can influence one’s time preference (such as if the wealth will increase or decrease over time). Younger people tend to have a higher time preference (meaning they prefer current wealth over future wealth). Thus, many millennials will fall under this category.
This same trait is evident, generally speaking, in their politics. Socialist policies simply tend to reflect higher time preference. Take, for instance, the substation of education. In the short run, it will lower or eliminate costs for college. However, in the future, it will decrease the wealth through higher prices and tax increases, but also increase inflation rates and debt. The youth, on average not having as much of an ability to look towards the future, are more likely to take the current wealth now and ignore future consequences.
Socialism in general has a trend for higher time preference. After all, the need to loot wealth from the “haves” and give to the “have nots” is a direct link of this theory. Why work or save when you can take from those who already have done so?. But this mindset, though materially rewarding initially, is dangerous. It will negatively impact on the economy, as the incentive to produce will fall; when people can keep less of what they produce, they will not have the same motivation to do so. Thus, it goes almost without saying that socialist policies will harm an economy, generally speaking.
A False Definition of Capitalism
It is also worth noting that many socialists paint a false picture of critical issues; what they criticize about the free market really has nothing to do with one, but instead is due to government interference. The cronyism that plagues the nation is not the fault of free market capitalism. The free market does not include lobbying, corporate bailouts, or subsidizing industries. America’s market is not a pure free market like the left claims it to be. Therefore, it makes no sense to condemn capitalism in the first place, when we have yet to see it.
Many millennials blame the free market for the rising price of healthcare. In fact, though, the federal government takes much of the blame here. In 1960, healthcare took up just five percent of the GDP, but in 2017, it was 17.9 percent. Healthcare costs have risen faster than the average annual income. What happened between 1960 and the modern day? In short, the government expanded and subsided the healthcare industry.
Inadequate Government Healthcare
If the government ran healthcare completely, it would be a disaster. The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ healthcare is notorious for its poor quality; imagine this for all healthcare across the whole country. Also, Canada’s healthcare system has many detriments. Our northern neighbors provide healthcare for free to every citizen, at the expense of the government.
However, consequences have been disastrous. This has lead to longer waiting times and a decrease in healthcare. In fact, waits for medically necessary procedures have more than doubled in 25 years. Furthermore, taxes in Canada are significantly higher than those in America. The last thing that our country needs is to go down this path.
Though most Americans do not support a truly free market, the number of people completely disregarding capitalism and praising socialist policies is increasing, particularly among youth. If predictions that millennials will have bigger impacts of elections is true, we should be worried about the future.
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The debate about healthcare in America is huge, and both sides have many compelling arguments. However, privatizing as many services as possible appears to be the morally correct choice.
The Moral Argument
The government should not be the ones to provide healthcare for the Amerian people. To understand my ethical side of the argument, we must look at just how this would occur.
The answer to this question is obvious. The government would fund these services using taxpayer money. Of course, taxation in itself is unethical and no more than organized theft. If I were to take your money at gunpoint but use it productively, I still would be a thief. That is the definition of theft: taking somebody’s belongings without their consent.
This makes government, in itself, the biggest and most successful thief in history. They are doing the exact same thing as the previous scenario explains. If you do not give them the money that you rightfully earned, then they will take it by force. Ultimately, they will resort to sending men with guns to collect it or collect you, if you do not comply. Of course, many citizens do not even question this or think twice because society raises us to believe things like ‘taxation is the price you pay to live in a civilized society.’
This is invalid for multiple reasons. First off, the citizens do not consent to money being taken, nor did they sign any ‘social contract’. Sure, the Constitution does mention taxation, but men 250 years ago agreeing upon it does not justify an act of aggression today. Agreement of the founders is not consent.
Second off, government services through taxation might be moral if it was only paid for by those who voluntarily used those services, or personally agreed to pay. However, this is not the case. We are all required to pay these taxes, regardless of whether or not we choose to use them and/or agreed to pay.
Even if I were to take your money and give you something valuable that you may or may not need or want, like medicine, for example, I would still be a thief. This should be no different with government. If the government takes the money of its citizens through coercion and gives them healthcare that they may not even want in exchange, it is still a mass theft. It may be theft that benefits a certain group of people, but this is regardless. Using violence against peaceful people in order to improve the lives of a certain group is wrong. The same moral argument exists for any government service.
The Practical Argument
Now that we have concluded the fact that healthcare through government is unethical, we must ask ourselves whether or not the government’s absence in this field would work as well as its presence. Without a doubt, the absence of the government in healthcare is practically correct and more efficient.
First of all, the private sector provides a greater incentive to work. Government employees tend to receive the same salary regardless of their work input. Those working in the private sector, however, often receive monetary compensation for working harder and more efficiently. When companies directly tie in one’s quality of work with their pay, it gives them an incentive to work harder, helping everyone by accomplishing more.
This general rule holds true for almost all services: the private sector gets the job done better. We see this in many places, including – like our failing public school system or our high number of roads and bridges in poor condition. In many areas, people can widely accept that the private sector ends up being higher quality. The same will apply to healthcare.
Private healthcare also grants patients the luxury of choice. It gives patients the option to choose the doctor they want treating them or the hospital they want to go to. They can choose these things based on the quality of the service provided. The more companies exist, the more options will follow. If one particular company is flawed in some way, perhaps in prices or quality, then they will go out of business. The only options for that company, thus, are changing their ways or closing up. If they fail to change, then perhaps they will lose money or even the building. In its place will come a better company that is more capable to suit the needs of the customers.
Without a doubt, private healthcare is a morally correct idea and also seems to be more efficient This way, we can further attempt to get the government out of the lives of the people while maintaining fairness and quality medical care.
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We live in a world where existence is suffering and health is one of the main factors. As a result, many believe in a bitter dichotomy: make health care a human right or let nature harm the ill and injured. However, this is not the case, as market health care systems can still provide valuable services. But regardless, when nature takes its course the result is merely tragic. On the other hand, free health care is malevolent, as it violates bodily autonomy and property rights.
Life is Full of Tragic Events
When tragedy strikes, it may be hard for people to cope, but there are ways of coming to a point of acceptance. Many lives today are increasingly chaotic, with tough relationships between friends and family. Tragedy, though, can bind a group of people at their weakest time, bringing unexpected newfound strength. Of course, nobody is suggesting that tragedy is a good thing for society, or that we should welcome the death of those without health care. Quite the opposite is true, and again, market-based health care has done wonders for the country to save lives. This is not always possible, though, and despite the awful finality of death, there can be a subsequent community benefit.
When Tony Dungy lost his son in a tragic suicide, the Indianapolis Colts rallied around him. After years of detachment, they started to believe in his coaching style. They started to do better as a team and ended up winning the super bowl just two years later. While he was dealing with the death of his son, the teammates confessed that while other “teams” were just a group of guys who work together, they had become closer, an actual team.
Of course, trading in that camaraderie and the ring for his son back would be an easy move for Dungy. The value of human life is indisputable and infinite. But everything happens for a reason, and actually, some others did see self-improvement stemming from the tragedy. One player who despises hugging, not having hugged his own children in a decade, gave the coach a long hug to symbolize the connection they now held.
Life is tragic, and there is almost no way to extinguish tragedy. But if we commit malevolent acts, life can become miserable, unbearable even.
The Alfie Evans Mistreatment
That is exactly what happened in the case of the toddler Alfie Evans. Alfie started showing “seizure-like” motions and was rushed to the hospital. After over a year on life support, the doctors decided to save resources by pulling the plug and letting him die. The issue is that the pope had offered to fly the family to Italy and pay for treatment, so the family appealed to the British courts for permission.
However, when Judge Justice Hayden was confronted with the decision he said “The sad truth is that it is not. With little, indeed no hesitation, that I reject that.” The judge and doctors claimed that his brain was too far degraded to make treatment worthwhile.
But in the past, we have seen people with extreme mental disorders still have a meaningful life. For example, we look towards E.P., the patient who suffered from amnesia after damage to several key structures in his brain. If someone who can’t even remember where the kitchen is in his own home could still have a good life with his wife and kids while making great strides for science, who knows what could have come for the life of Alfie Evans? However tragic his life may have been, E.P.’s wife said he would have been extremely happy that his struggle made a difference in how doctors treat other people. That is all he expected in life, and he got it.
Free Health Care is a Scam
When people take the personal autonomy away from you, they claim to own you. This is exactly what happens under government-run “free health care.” In Canada, you can go get help for anything whenever you want. So, people go to treat minor illnesses and injuries constantly. This should be good, however, the price is far too high.
Wait times have increased by 177% since 1993, with a median wait of five months between referral and treatment. The system actually affects patients with life-endangering conditions the most, which is backward and absurd. Cancer treatment should always come before managing the flu. But according to Heritage.org, the Canadian monopoly often does not operate this way. It appears that free health care does not give much freedom to live.
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”- John Stuart Mill
Even when judges and doctors in the U.K. agree, they do not have the power to say who lives. This is especially true in the Alfie Evans case, where the government was not going to pay a penny. As tragic as the entire situation is, these decisions are up to individuals and families. Free health care did not save Alfie Evans, and would not have done a thing to save Tony Dungy’s son. It is ineffective, malevolent, and far worse than the worst of accidental tragedies.
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Perhaps my problem is that having just spent seven years in Canada, single-payer universal healthcare ruined any possibility I would ever accept the Obamacare model. Be that as it may, after just a few minutes reviewing my employer’s healthcare package, I couldn’t help but feel I would be better off financially going without coverage in the US, at least in the short-term.
Paying $256 a month for a high deductible plan means that during the four months or so we have left until hopefully returning to Canada, we will need to spend more than $3,000 on healthcare before most services either my wife or I could possibly need even begin to receive coverage. For insurance to kick in for both of us, we must meet the family deductible. This pushes our total figure to somewhere just north of $5,000. Welcome back to the United States, where healthcare costs and in network/out of network headaches just might cause more strokes and heart attacks than the system prevents.
Even if we were staying full-time in the US, our plan would be a disaster. With it, our annual healthcare spending would have to be extraordinary for it to make any sense. We are unlikely to reach the $2000 individual/$4,000 family deductible alone, never mind the $5,000 to $7,000 in health related costs we would need to incur over the course of the year before this insurance plan finally began saving us money (deductible plus nearly $3000 in premiums). As people are fond of saying when stark financial realities confront them, just do the math.
In addition, it’s important to keep in mind the expenses described above represent a huge percentage of annual income for anyone doing the job I’m currently doing. Because we don’t plan on remaining in the United States for long, I haven’t sought jobs in my field here. I’ve just taken a temporary job at a convenience store to hopefully save up a little money before returning north. At that point, I will pursue a master’s degree and permanent residence in Canada. However, for many of my co-workers, the job is much more vital in both the near and long term.
I suppose some would say I should feel lucky to have any insurance at all under the circumstances (a very American response). As you might expect, working in retail doesn’t pay well. Frequently, it doesn’t come with any benefits at all.
I would argue that for all practical purposes, my job still doesn’t come with benefits. The insurance premiums alone knock roughly 15% off the earnings of a typical convenience store clerk. If that clerk or a family member were to experience serious health issues, the $2000 minimum they will have to pay out of pocket before the insurance even begins to provide some relief will quickly bump the cost of this “insurance” into the 25% of annual income range. This amounts to an extremely regressive tax on low income workers. There’s nothing economical, let alone right, from either an individual or social perspective about any of it.
Obamacare provides health insurance subsidies to those purchasing individual coverage through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but not to those receiving health insurance through their employer. It did, however, require people to sign up for their employer’s insurance to avoid paying a tax penalty. However, even taking the tax penalty into account (about $695 in our case, assuming we’re in the US all year), the hit to a low income worker, making what I earn, is far greater. Regardless, the so called “affordable” plans offered via the ACA tend to also have high deductible policies. It’s difficult to justify huge government subsidies for plans that don’t really provide true coverage.
As was the case with the uninsured before healthcare reform, high deductible plans still often leave low-income workers choosing between food, shelter, and healthcare. No one in a nation as wealthy as the US should have to face those kinds of decisions. Medicaid might pick up some of the slack in many cases, but this imposes yet another layer of bureaucracy onto American healthcare that the poor are required to navigate and that healthcare providers must bill. This alphabet soup of private and public plans is primarily responsible for the high administrative costs of the US healthcare system. Yet, it just leaves patients feeling frustrated and confused.
Before my employer took it over, health coverage in Canada for my wife and I totaled $135. Enrollment, as I recall, involved a single double sided page of paperwork. Then, we got the same healthcare card that everyone gets, rich or poor. We also got the same benefits. There was no monthly, quarterly, or annual renewal. Our healthcare provider just swiped the card at the front desk and that was that.
Our monthly premium was high by Canadian standards. Because we lacked permanent residency or citizenship, we didn’t qualify for lower cost options. However, we did still qualify for Pharmacare, a benefit which reduced the expense of Canada’s already relatively cheap prescription drugs. Supplemental insurance, provided through my job, picked up whatever drug costs that remained.
As for hospital bills, while living in Canada I paid three visits to the emergency room and never saw a single bill. My wife had a specialist to help facilitate the best management of her Type I diabetes. We likewise never had to pay a dime for her doctor visits. In other words, that $135 a month was for a zero deductible plan, which is the only plan in Canada.
I did have to pay $80 for one ambulance ride, the maximum that a hospital can charge for this in British Columbia. It took them six months to get around to sending that bill, and there appeared to be no urgency on their part about seeing it paid. That said, we were happy to pay, given that we knew a similar ride south of the border would likely run over $1000.
For obvious reasons, and contrary to popular belief, Canadians aren’t exactly flocking to the US for non-essential services they might have to wait a little longer for at home. Even the single-payer system’s harshest critics estimate that only tens of thousands off Canadians come south to receive treatment. This amounts to a fraction of 1% of the entire Canadian population. Of course, no critic of the single-payer model ever cites the number of Americans that have moved to Canada at least in part because they find its system of universal coverage far preferable to the balkanized and expensive US alternative.
Regardless, virtually every Canadian we spoke with about healthcare during our time in their country could not grasp why so many Americans favor the right to go without health insurance altogether. It’s possible some of them insist on that right for the same reasons we’re exercising it, but most seem opposed to health insurance mandates on ideological grounds rather than out of financial necessity or practical budgetary reasons. Canadians, in our experience, were equally puzzled by the apparent willingness of so many of their southern neighbors to pay so much for coverage that provides so little in return. Indeed, government has told us the plan we’re being offered is “normal” both in terms of monthly premiums and benefits received in return, and that we should accept it. Again, having experienced Canadian healthcare, normal to me has become something quite different.
Sometimes it was necessary to explain what a co-payment was to our friends up north. The whole idea of networks was something of an enigma to them as well, given that Canada as a whole is just one big healthcare network. Explaining the benefit of a healthcare network to a Canadian is like trying to explain the benefit of a fish tank to a creature that’s spent their entire life swimming in the ocean. Why you and your neighbor should each have to choose different doctors because you have different insurance plans makes no sense at all from a Canadian perspective — or really from any serious perspective for that matter.
For all the talk about maintaining the right to choose your own doctor in the United States, it’s in America, not Canada, where your choice of doctor is limited by your insurance provider. In fact, unless you’re buying individual coverage, even your insurance provider is likely to have been chosen by your employer instead of by you. In other words, among the world’s developed countries, America probably offers patients the least freedom of all when it comes to choosing a physician.
So, it’s official: we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed until we return to our adopted home and resume following our chosen path to permanent residence and ultimately citizenship in Canada. It simply makes no financial sense to pay an arm and a leg for both health insurance AND visits to the doctor at the same time. As with millions of other Americans, the healthcare options for us seem little changed since our initial departure in 2010 before Obamacare had taken effect. Given the kind of choices US health policy still forces tens of millions of citizens to confront daily, I’ll take the “lack of choice” Canadians enjoy any day and look forward to getting back to not having it again very soon.