Bigger government programs are not the answer

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:35

    In the July 21 Sparta Independent there were two letters advocating greater government control of the people. The first advocated a single payer health care system. The claim was that it would be more efficient and fair. Certainly the current system is inefficient, but not because we don’t have enough government involvement, but because we consumers don’t have any skin in the game. We don’t shop for medical services based on cost and quality as we do in all other industries. If we shop at all, we only shop for quality because most of us have insurance with low deductibles. With customers like us is it any wonder the industry is inefficient and high cost. I suppose fair means that everybody receives all the services they want. Perhaps that would be nice, but as the current debt debate has made clear, we can’t afford the care we receive now let alone expand it. Further, the government can’t effectively manage the 50% of health care system (Medicare, Medicaid and other programs) it has now. Expanding its share to 100 percent would simply freeze in place the current inefficient system and lead to more bureaucracy, more price controls and more rationing to control costs; care would have to take a back seat. The system, however, might be more fair in the sense that we would all be stuck in the same leaky boat. What we need is less government involvement and more cost/quality competition to drive innovation to improve quality and lower costs for all — real competition driven by shoppers not pseudo competition via insurance companies. The second letter lamented the fact we don’t guarantee employment, fair competition, housing, medical care, education and social security as FDR wanted in 1944. Well, the government does try to see that all of these items are made available to all citizens, but they are not guaranteed. If all those were guaranteed, then the government would have to see that everyone was contributing to the best of their ability (no freeloading) and that each received according to his need (no waste). That experiment was tried in Russia and other countries with disastrous results. I don’t think we want to repeat that mistake. James G. Root Sparta