Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Why I Don't Trust Government

Sometimes when I get into a political discussion, I find myself being asked why I have an almost total, reflexive instinct to not trust government. Why is it that I won't give the benefit of the doubt.

Unlimited evidence?

Let's put it this way: Why should I trust our government to not make health care in this country 100% worse, when this sort of thing can be permitted by that same government, per ABC News:
At least 12 members of Osama bin Laden's family currently hold Federal Aviation Administration pilot's licenses that make them eligible to fly aircraft anywhere in the United States, including three who received their licenses just this June, according to an analysis of FAA records provided to ABC News by a computer security firm, Safe Banking Systems.

One of the three who received his FAA licenses this year, Yeslam bin Laden, a half-brother of Osama who lives in Geneva, Switzerland, is named in a civil lawsuit brought by the families of 9/11 victims alleging he helped to finance Osama's al-Qaeda network as it started up in the 1990s in Yemen and the Sudan.

I scarcely know where to begin.

We're at war in order to find Osama bin Laden. This is because he commanded men TO FLY PLANES INTO BUILDINGS.

I'm not in favor of our current wars, but if I were in charge of the thing, we would be done within two weeks. Bin Laden's half-brother filled out an application! For the love of all that is good and decent, stroll up to his address, grab that man, and maybe a half-dozen of the other kin, and let the ransoming begin!

The ineptitude is staggering. Why do I not trust government? That's rich. Good one.


Tom said...

PBS 'Frontline' had a great documentary about the US healthcare system vs. other international healthcare systems, both pro and con. You come away with a sense that maybe Canada or Japan or the UK isn't perfect, but they seem to be better functioning than the US's so-called free market system.

On a separate note, I read a recent article about why Keynesian economics is back in vogue relative to purely free market ideology (Friedman, et al.). It was interesting because it becomes clear that 'free market' advocates are all about ideology, and Keynesians and their ilk are more about the way the world (or people) work.

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Doug said...

Definitely interested in your rationale for discounting the apparent effectiveness of other health care systems around the world which seem to provide comparable levels of care at something like half the cost.

Mike Kole said...

Doug, you're asking me to compare apples and oranges. I pointed to a horrid instance of *our* government's ineptitude. I might ask you to explain why you have confidence given that instance, or *our* govt's wars/foreign policy, or *our* drug war, *our* federalizing of education, etc. I think traditions, expectations, and motivations play a huge role. The Danes love and trust their government, and their very high taxes. Americans? That's outside our tradtions.

I don't claim to know much about the systems of other nations. I do know this- Canadians come across the border to the US for procedures, but Americans don't go there. Now, maybe that's a limitation placed on national status (which would seem very sensible to me). But I do know about Denmark, which I visited at some length, where my wife's one distant cousin is a doctor. I was regaled with endless, "How come your health care isn't socialized?" questions, so we had quite a few discussions. In Denmark, if you are merely setting foot on their soil, regardless of your national status, you are eligible for all the care you need.

They have a lot of people from Asia and Africa arriving in Denmark to take advantage of the care, but it was noted that Americans do not come.

Eric Schansberg said...

Apples and oranges-- or apples and rocks, indeed.

I would have waited to answer Doug until he explained why Singapore's system apparently does so well for less than his favorite examples.

Why do people keep repeating the same lame arguments?

Eric Schansberg said...

Tom, Keynesians and free marketeers are equally into "ideology"-- albeit of different kinds.

Doug said...

Mike, I would hazard a guess that other countries' governments screw up a lot too; just like any big organization. In some ways, I think our reluctance to follow other leads on health care boils down to "we've never done it that way, and we don't wanna start."

I'm just saying, somehow they manage to spend less without dying any faster. If they can get it done, we should be able to as well. As to why Americans don't travel to get health care, I don't know. Maybe they do, and we just don't hear about it. Maybe they don't know much about other countries, can't afford to travel, and/or don't have the available vacation time necessary to travel. Just random guesses.

Eric, as for Singapore: "Singapore's system uses a combination of compulsory savings from payroll deductions (funded by both employers and workers) a nationalized health insurance plan, and government subsidies, as well as "actively regulating the supply and prices of healthcare services in the country" to keep costs in check; the specific features have been described as potentially a "very difficult system to replicate in many other countries.""

It doesn't sound like a plan that would cause any of the folks opposing health care changes now to line up to support.

Citizen Kane said...

We don't have a free-market healthcare now; that is the problem. Government got involved and made a bunch of rules that have only increased costs and decreased transparency. More government does not solve the problem of bad government. Government must only provide the basic framework for the free market to exist. No economic activity can exist (at least not without bloodshed), with out a basic civil and criminal enforcement structure. But beyond that, government must get out of the way.

Health care starts with the individual. This healthcare debate is largely based on the premise that we don't have an obligation to leave healthy lives. And by the way, insurance is not for regular everyday expenditures. Just imagine how expensive other forms of insurance would be if regular maintenance, etc. was paid for by insurance.