Libertarian Logic

According to Reason magazine’s Ronald Bailey, If people are denied needed resources by government, it’s rationing. If people are denied needed resources by private companies, it’s their own fault.

See, all that stuff about people being priced out of the insurance market, being sold junk insurance policies, being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, or being dropped by their insurers because, well, because? It’s their own fault. Markets are perfect.

Bailey concludes,

But through the usual lack leftwing lack of imagination and a truly touching and naive faith in the efficacy of top/down government “solutions,” Klein ends up advocating for government rationing and for imposing a government monopoly on health care, instead of for more competition and choice.

Let us reflect on Bailey’s truly touching and naive faith in private markets. It’s one thing to have faith in a theory or proposition that hasn’t been tried before. But when the thing you have placed your faith in is sinking like the Titanic right in front of your eyes, that’s not faith. That’s delusion.

See also: Ezra Klein

20 thoughts on “Libertarian Logic

  1. But when the thing you have placed your faith in is sinking like the Titanic right in front of your eyes, that’s not faith. That’s delusion.

    No doubt!

    Medicare- Bankrupt ($50 trillion in unfunded liabilities over 75 years).

    Socialist InSecurity- Bankrupt (Another $13 thousand billion).

    Medicaid- Bankrupt (From 7% of my state’s budget in 1990 to almost 20% in 2020).

    USPS- Bankrupt (Losing $8 billion/yr despite their monopoly on first-class mail…).

    Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac- Bankrupt.

    GM/Chrysler (after $30 billion TARP funds)- Bankrupt.

    Yet, I’m quite sure that the “government option” will be both effective and cheaper…

    • Miles Dyson: You are being illogical, as well as inaccurate. Medicare, Social Security the USPS deliver the services they were established to deliver very well, and Social Security is no where near going bankrupt. As far as Medicare is concerned, the biggest reason it is struggling with costs is that it is dealing with costs driven out of control by the private market. Medicare itself is doing a better job keeping costs under control than the private market, in spite of the fact that it’s dealing with a population of the most frail and elderly that the private insurance market doesn’t want to touch with a ten-foot thermometer.

      Please note:

      Here’s the raw fact, from the National Health Expenditure data: since 1970 Medicare costs per beneficiary have risen at an annual rate of 8.8% — but insurance premiums have risen at an annual rate of 9.9%. The rise in Medicare costs is just part of the overall rise in health care spending. And in fact Medicare spending has lagged private spending: if insurance premiums had risen “only” as much as Medicare spending, they’d be 1/3 lower than they are.

      But thanks for coming by and demonstrating once again that libertarians are mental zombies who can’t deal with reality or think for themselves. Also note the commenting rules, which say I do have time to waste talking to zombies. Good bye.

  2. Miles baby,
    Nice list.
    I’d list the number of large companies that are either bankrupt, or on the verge, or getting bailed-out by the government because they were too big to fail, but space here is limited to kilo or megabytes, not gigabytes.

  3. Lehmann Brothers – Bankrupt and liquidated.

    AIG – Bankrupt (bailed out)

    Bank of America – Bankrupt (bailed out)

    Enron – Bankrupt (vaporized)

    Wachovia – Bankrupt (part of Wells Fargo)

    Citigroup – Bankrupt (bailed out)

    American Home Mortgage – Bankrupt (liquidated)

    More to the point, on the first day of Economics 101 they will teach you that markets “ration” goods and services through price. The author of the Reason article started his piece by defining rationing as a government activity. To argue that we don’t ration health care is stupid. We ration everything from food to diamonds by price, and that includes health care. That’s how the system works. It’s a great system if it doesn’t kill you.

  4. Ooops, I cut myself off.
    What people who are making the anti-government position are saying is that our government is uniquely, out of all of the governments in the industialized world, unable to provide health care to its population. And that it also is incapable of helping families in financial need, or in providing some sort of a security blanket to seniors.
    So, I guess that after 220+ years, people are ready to throw in the towel on our system.
    Maybe we need another Constitutional Convention. One where we could go to a parliamentary system, since that’s what most other democracies have. And somehow, they’re not bankrupt. Neither finanacially, nor morally.

  5. Miles, I understand our military is “bankrupt” too – they’re “losing” money at a far more astonishing rate, and the outcomes are even worse. Yet I never hear anyone talking about shutting it down.

  6. Maha

    The comment section on the Bailey peace will make an interesting historical artificact for future PhD students. Rated M for Mature (not!)

  7. The Glibertarians remind me of the hard-core Communists. Their system has failed whenever put into practice, but still they insist that the reason for the failure was because the attempt wasn’t pure enough, not because their system is, inherently, idealistic utopian nonsense that disregards important facets of human nature in its attempt to reach some ideal that cannot be obtained with human beings as they currently exist. Pragmatic reality seems to be something that neither Glibertarians nor the Communists are familiar with. Sigh…. if it wasn’t for the fact that their nuttery was so bloody deadly when actually put into practice, it might be funny. The 22,000+ per year dead because of lack of health insurance, however, are not laughing. They can’t. They’re dead.

  8. One thing that bothers me is the inconsistent logic – if it’s not “rationing” to limit health care by price, then the only way government health care is “rationing” is if private insurance, supplementary private insurance, and paying cash for health care are all banned. Is anyone suggesting that? No.

    And even if, through the slap of the invisible hand, private insurance withers and dies in the US? We’ve got medical tourism today, so if the evil Democrats socialistically stamp out all private health care, you can just go to Mexico, or Canada, or Singapore. If you can’t afford the trip? Well, that’s not rationing by their definition, is it?

  9. Miles, today is Saturday, August 29, 2009. You are on the planet Earth, orbiting the star Sol, in the galaxy Milky Way.

    There. That should get you started on the path back to reality. Best of luck.

  10. Wow, Miles. You have convinced me that America needs to address all these dramatic fiscal shortfalls.

    We seem to be able to scrape up 600 billion a year, with a huge chunk of that going directly to welfare queens (ie, defense contractors). Let’s stop all that nasty wasteful spending straight away.

    I dunno where you get your “facts” (though I could sure make some guesses), but many of them are — what’s the word? — wrong.

    & as far as the quoted piece, I don’t think many people on the left have a touching belief in the ability of govt to solve all our ills. However, govt intervention in health reform, if done right, would create a situation where the health of the people of America are valued more than the wealth of the insurance companies. Is that asking so much?

    I seem to recall something in some old document about the general welfare of the people.

  11. Don’t I remember some Greenspan fellow being rather taken aback by witnessing markets lacking the self-preservation instinct that would prevent them from self-destructing by greed?

  12. …truly touching and naive faith in private markets….But when the thing you have placed your faith in is sinking like the Titanic right in front of your eyes, that’s not faith. That’s delusion.

    It’s always fun (and often easy) to turn wingnuts’ arguments back on them, and then to up the ante. The dumber ones are so stupid they don’t know what hit them, or how to respond, which offends their sense of superiority, which angers them even more. “There, there, now…”

  13. Badtux, you’re exactly right, both the far left and far right preach a utopian non-sense that has never worked. Unfortunately, the Libertarian voice is heard loud and clear, often. While the socialist or communist voice is never heard. Ron Paul gets elected and is given a voice in the recent Prez. election, where was the socialist candidate? (sorry, don’t even know his name) Penn and Teller get to have a show on Showtime. One episode was on taxes where they “even handedly” talked about the American tax system with Dick Armey, Grover Nordquist and Ron Paul. Where’s the far left equivalent to this show? They would never run it. I want to see that English politician that Michael Moore interviewed for Sicko get a voice. Smart and persuasive, but I’m not sure his counter part exists in the United States.

  14. It is a lie that Medicare and Social Secuity is bankrupt. The true is that both programs have trillions in surplus waiting for the baby boomers to reach 65. The problem is that the Federal government gave this surplus to the rich in tax breaks and will have to find this money in the next 2o yrs. The main reason for the ‘LIE’ is that the Republican run federal government used the Medicare and Social Security surplus for regular expense instead of putting it aside or paying off the national debt. The Republicans will use this “LIE” to justify thier proprosal that Medicare and Social security benifits be cut because the programs are bankrupted.

  15. Rationing as defined from the horses mouth:

    “I believe we’re getting the pushback because we are standing up for what we believe in,” said Cheryl Tidwell, 45, Humana’s director of commercial sales training. “We believe there’s a better way to control costs by controlling utilization and getting people involved in their health care.”

  16. Several years ago I was attracted to the Libertarian party because of their “live and let live ” attitude.I liked what I read at, especially the anti war sentiment.
    The attitude now appears to be more like “live and let die”.

  17. Short definition of libertarianism – I get to do whatever I want to , you don’t.

  18. Pingback: The Mahablog » Just Don’t Call It “Rationing”

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