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Randy Alcorn: Factual Flatulence on Health Care

If we're going to fix the problem, we need to split the difference between free market and government bureaucracy

There were some sharp responses from readers of my previous column in which I opined that the foundering of health-care reform was a result of the harsh realities of America’s Darwinian economic system. Clearly, the health-care issue, along with so many other critical issues confronting this country, is now flammable fodder for the contentious two-dimensional ideological thinking that passes for wisdom these days.

Randy Alcorn
Randy Alcorn

I am always impressed by readers who, whether in agreeing or disagreeing with me, have cogent comments. These days, however, I am not impressed very often. Too many comments are rote recitations taken directly from the conservative or liberal manifestos, and made by various opposing gas bags producing the same stench as has the factional flatulence that has been stinking up the halls of Congress. Until we can elect thinkers instead of stinkers, not much will improve in America.

Today, it’s all about which side you are on and not about rational examination of issues and possibilities. Such examinations are typically clouded by catechismic considerations of one or the other political-economic ideologies. Health-care reform is a critical issue that, to the convenience of those special interests being enriched by the status quo, is caught between the ideological left and right.

For my friends on the right who, because they believe I am a card-carrying libertarian, continue to be perplexed by my position on health-care reform, I say that I prefer free-thinking to unquestioning faith in dogma of any kind, including free-market economic doctrine.

As much as you want to believe in the flawlessness of your philosophical fantasies, free-market capitalism is not a panacea for every socio-economic ailment. Unless you are among the thin gold line of the social strata that has enough wealth to insulate you from the most severe economic upheavals, you, too, are subject to the vagaries of fortune.

If you lose your job, exhaust COBRA, and your kid needs a $200,000 kidney transplant within three months or he dies, how long would it take the magic of the free market to make health insurance affordable for you — without disqualifying your kid for his pre-existing condition? How long would it take to reduce the cost of that transplant to a level whereby you could as least sell everything you own to pay for it?

No matter that you have worked hard, paid your taxes, never collected a dime of welfare, and always voted Republican, you become just another casualty of the economic jungle. Unbridled capitalism descends into cannibalistic self interest and survival of the richest. As we have seen with Toyota, in the pursuit of wealth, human welfare is often forfeit. The same homicidal rapacity is found in the health insurance industry.

Even those who are financially insulated should want health-care reform enacted before millions more Americans are priced out of health care and left to suffer and die or go bankrupt paying for astronomically pricey medical care. Masses of Americans denied health care are probably not going to just accept that as their fate so the health-care industry can grow profits to raise share values and pay themselves huge bonuses. Letting the gap between haves and have-nots get too wide usually leads to confiscatory revolutions or nervous police-states.

For all of you on the religious right, this health-care issue should be simple. For the same reason God does not want you to abort fetuses, She does not want you to let people die because they can’t get health insurance.

And, for all of you who have drunk the tea and are apoplectic about the growing girth of government, I share your fury, especially when I consider the massive misallocation of public funds on nonsense like unnecessary military adventures, the oppressive police-state war on drugs, welfare to illegal aliens, pork-barrel politics, and lavish pay and benefits to politicians and government employees. The money wasted on these things is far greater and of less benefit to American society than is the money that would be needed to afford all Americans some reasonable level of health-care coverage.

And, for my friends on the left, government is not always the prescription for curing every social ill, real or perceived. In fact, government is a cancerous disease when it gets as ginormous, grasping and greedy as ours has become. Government is run by people, and people whether in government or in the private sector are subject to the same ethical frailties of selfishness and venality. But, government is potentially more dangerous because it can ultimately impose its will at the point of a gun.

Americans have always been resourceful problem solvers, innovators and pioneers. If we can focus on health care as a problem to be solved rather than an ideological issue to squabble over, we can find a workable solution. That solution involves judicious regulation of the free market without imposing suffocating blankets of government bureaucracy. We can do this.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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