17 January 2007

Free Market Faith

Chris Voccio, publisher of the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, Penn., declares in this 16 Jan. opinion piece that the “idea that health care is a ‘right’ is absurd,” and that the “very last thing we should do is move to a single-payer system. Health care prices would rise even faster.”

Voccio also believes that “We have the greatest health care in the world, but our prices are rising too fast.”

His solution? “[W]e should move in the opposite direction, farther away from the third-party- payer system and closer to the free-market approach that has done such a great job keeping the prices of computers in check.”

Voccio is divorced from reality. It is, after all, the free market that has led to high prices in healthcare. A similar delusion is behind one of the many comments on a healthcare reform story from the State-Journal Register in Springfield, Ill.:

“All control over healthcare, and payment for it, is done today thru lawmaking known as mandating and that IS all controlled by democrats here. You cannot honestly say today that it isn't. If lawmakers had stayed out of it, the market would have decided if the purchase of insurance was worth it or not. Now that this system is in danger of collapse, some think mandating it, and everything about it, will solve the problems.”

Now that’s amazingly incoherent. I’m not positive what this person was trying to say, but my guess is that the attempted remark comes from a closed loop argument that will be used against healthcare reform.

The Right is already arguing that the free market will solve the healthcare crisis. That’s an old and trusty standby. For the argument to work, however, people need to also believe that the free market is blameless in the current crisis. If it were even partially at fault then the market would not be a perfect solution after all. In fact, that might even justify regulation. And once you head down that slippery slope…

No comments: