Tag: Healthcare

CVS Aetna Merger Shows AMA Hypocrisy

Warren Albrecht | United States

We frequently hear that the cost of healthcare is increasing. But we rarely hear anyone define why despite the reason being so obvious: government intrusion. Neither Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Medica, nor Anthem was ever on business programs complaining of the cost of healthcare. Instead, the mainstream media gave platforms to the representatives of Medicare and Medicaid, debt providers for taxpayers. Meanwhile, the Obama administration stopped the mergers of health insurance companies.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the deals “would leave much of the multi-trillion dollar health insurance industry in the hands of three mammoth insurance companies, drastically constricting competition in a number of key markets that tens of millions of Americans rely on to receive health care”.

So one has to ask anyone supporting single-payer health care: why would government control (socialized medicine) be work without any competition? In short, it wouldn’t.

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Medicare for All Bill to Be Proposed by Bernie Sanders

Dane Larsen | @_danebailey

U.S. Senator and popular 2020 Democratic Nominee for President Bernie Sanders reopened the previously sealed can of worms: Medicare for all. On Wednesday, Sanders disclosed his plans to present Congress with a new and improved version of a highly controversial bill.

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Scandinavian Socialism Could Never Work In the US

Garrett Summers | United States

Socialists often point towards the Scandinavian countries for evidence that a socialist system is a way to prosperity for the US. (Never mind that the Prime Minister of Denmark pushed back on this sentiment during Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the White House) There are two chief differences between these countries and the US that socialists refuse to admit. The population size and the lack of defense spending in these countries.

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Why Socialist Policies Appeal to More of the Youth

Jack Parkos | United States

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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Government Shutdowns and Debt Ceilings

Craig Axford | Canada

Government shutdowns and flirtations with default by putting off raising the federal debt ceiling have become regular occurrences in Washington, D.C. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised given the number of representatives and senators regularly expressing disdain for the very institution they were elected to run, but still.

Americans like to believe their nation is exceptional, and it is: it’s the only developed nation on the planet that doesn’t guarantee all its citizens healthcare, higher education is more expensive there than just about anywhere else, it has the only government that it’s possible to shut down without having to resort to violence, and it’s the only nation that flirts with suicide by requiring votes on its debt ceiling.

That’s right. No other governments have even one, let alone two, kill switches built into their system. And why would they? What’s the point? Unless the intent is to erode public confidence in government it makes no sense for elected officials to even contemplate closing down popular national parks or giving all the people in charge of enforcing our public health and safety regulations an extended unpaid holiday?

The habit of shutting down the government now and then (as well as the continuing resolutions passed to avoid them) is an unintended bug in the American system rather than a feature of it. So too is the necessity to authorize more borrowing periodically once the national debt has reached a predetermined threshold. Both of these bugs are extremely dangerous but, unfortunately, they are likely to remain unfixed for the foreseeable future.

America’s founding fathers were revolutionaries. As such, they were no fans of the British government, which by the late 18th century was already well established and quite recognizable to any citizen of the 21st century. Though King George III was the titular head of state, like his contemporary successor Queen Elizabeth II, he had very little actual power to match the privileges that came with his hereditary title. Parliament was already very much in charge.

Nothing like what took place in Philadelphia following the American Revolution had ever been seriously considered, let alone attempted, in London. To intentionally sit down and craft rules for a new government quite literally being built from scratch was a radical idea if ever there was one. To call America an experiment is not an exaggeration. As with any experiment, the outcome is unknown until it has come to a close. The American experiment hasn’t ended, but so far it certainly has produced some unanticipated results.

In creating the modern world’s first republic, America’s victorious rebels were faced with the task of establishing rules for a country that no longer had centuries of tradition to fall back on. The norms of the mother country they had just abandoned had evolved over hundreds of years of power struggles between the aristocracy and the crown, with a nascent merchant middle class increasingly making its own demands over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. The newly independent colonies wanted to distinguish themselves from the nation they had just liberated themselves from, but how?

The US Constitution settled for a president instead of a monarch, while the House of Representatives took the place of the House of Commons and the Senate stood in for the House of Lords. Each elected member of these respective branches is subject to regular fixed terms of office, with the power balanced more or less equally between them rather than resting largely in the representative branch (i.e., parliament) alone. With the exception of the extremely rare and difficult case of impeachment, the US Constitution provides no opportunity to hold any single officeholder accountable for failure during the period between elections, let alone the government as a whole. Federal judges receive lifetime appointments, something else not seen in any other developed representative democracy to this day.

In a parliamentary system, the failure to pass something as routine as an annual budget triggers a crisis. Under the Westminster parliamentary model followed in the UK, Canada and several other members of the Commonwealth, this crisis brings down the government and forces the monarch or her designated representative to dissolve the government and call an election. In unstable periods when minority governments are common, elections tend to be relatively more frequent, while in less turbulent political times a majority government can persist for five years or so before facing a vote.

Likewise, when a parliament authorizes spending beyond the government’s anticipated revenues, it is understood they have necessarily approved an increase in the national debt. Therefore, there is no need to consider raising the debt limit independently. From the perspective of citizens living in parliamentary countries, it makes no sense that the same Congress that approved deficit spending one month can spend time the next flirting with a refusal to allow any borrowing. It’s like having a government that doesn’t know its own mind.

Unfortunately, the kind of crises that bring down governments in parliamentary systems has become commonplace in the United States. Budgets go years without being approved, with Congress lurching from one continuing resolution to the next while various factions hold federal employees and the citizens dependent upon their services hostage until some pet project or favorite policy or another is approved in exchange for keeping things running for a while longer. A Prime Minister Donald Trump would either be facing a vote of the people at this point in the budget process or a leadership challenge by members of his own caucus. One year in office would be unlikely, but four would almost certainly be impossible.

I’ve been living in Canada for the better part of a decade now. On most days I find myself feeling pretty ambivalent about the monarchy if I even think about it at all. That’s not because I can see equal merit in both sides of the argument regarding having someone born into the role of head of state. It’s because I recognize all societies require a sense of continuity and for some countries that can take the shape of a monarchy that has existed in one form or another for centuries. A woman that appears on our money while playing an entirely ceremonial role is harmless, if not for the actual person forced into the job by an accident of birth then at least for the rest of us.

I’m not feeling so ambivalent about having a parliament, however. I have strong opinions about the two Canadian prime ministers I’ve lived under so far. But the extent of my approval or disapproval aside, at least I know that the nearby Pacific Rim National Park will, weather permitting, always be open and that with the exception of national holidays at the local Services Canada office the door will never be locked. Even the UK Brexit debacle hasn’t convinced me parliaments are less effective or ultimately less democratic than the divided governments that have become the norm in the US.

If for some reason, it turns out parliament can’t do its job there will be an election lasting a little over a month while the people try to vote one in with a sufficient mandate to do it. In the meantime, things will go on pretty much as before without any nightly news reports about government employees unable to pay the rent because someone got it into their head they wanted to build a wall. I know it’s incredibly unAmerican to say so, but if you were to put me in a time machine and send me back to 1776, I would tell the founding fathers to get rid of the monarchy if they must, but at least keep the parliament.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com


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