Thursday, August 20, 2009

Freedom and healthcare

I've just watched Daniel Hannan's address to Americans on the dangers of a nationalised healthcare system. I, too, want America to carry on holding up the torch of freedom and democracy that is being doused here in the UK, so that one day we'll be able to re-light ours from theirs.

But it seems to me that if you want private solutions for problems which all have (or will have), but not all can afford, then you must address the question of inequality of resources.

Peter Rogers, co-creator and producer of the Carry On film comedies, once remarked he would 'do anything for my actors except pay them.' Similarly, so much is done for us in the UK, perhaps so badly, in the way of health and education (to name but two functions), when it might work so much better if we had the money personally and could make our own decisions.

We are witnessing a concentration into ever fewer hands on both sides the Atlantic, not only of power but of economic wealth. Every dollar and pound is a vote in the daily election of goods and services. To use the terms of the French national motto, if we wish for liberty but mistrust fraternity, then perhaps we should contemplate some redistribution of wealth to restore a greater degree of equality.

For example, how about some form of credit card (funded from general taxation and directed to individual accounts) that can only be spent on defined areas of need, but the holder to determine how to use his/her budget to best effect? Something like the educational voucher idea, but radically extended?


OldSouth said...

Good observations! We are in a quandry: Decency, simple decency, cries out to us that a society with a large number of citizens who risk bankruptcy in the event of illness is a society in the need of reform.

On the other hand, the US government has done a notoriously bad job in running any program effectively, and the prospect of Uncle Sam taking an increasing role in the administration of health care is, frankly, frightening.

As I have listened to the town hall meetings, the overwhelming sentiment is: 'We don't trust the government! They threaten our freedoms, they have put us into horrible debt, the corruption is rampant, and no one will listen to us!!!

The frustration has been pent up, and is finally spilling over. I'm monitoring a town hall meeting run by a conservative Democrat, and he is taking fire from all sides. One woman just said: 'Please take this message back to Washington. We are not into name-calling. We are not idiots. Tell your leadership we would like them to spend more time actually reading the bills they pass, and spend less time calling us names.' The final questioner said--'Please go back and tell them just how angry your fellow Americans are.'

Until Congress can address this basic political problem--simple credibility--I do not think we will see any progress. Congress has lost credibility, and the members' constituents have lost faith.

James Higham said...

Yes, I've just linked to it.

Concentration of power - right. Nicely put post, Sackers.

Paddington said...

The educational vouchers have been a disaster. According to a piece that I read in Newsweek last year, and other studies that I have seen, there is not one charter (read semi-private) school that has out-performed the school system from which its kids come.

As for health care, it appears to be a huge win. Their disinformation means that they can continue to rake in huge amounts of money (30% of the gross) from health insurance, and an even larger ratio of malpractice insurance.

We really appear to be that stupid.