Archive for April, 2010
Texas Straight Talk – A weekly column
Rep. Ron Paul (R) – TX 14
Lately many have characterized this administration as socialist, or having strong socialist leanings. I differ with this characterization. This is not to say Mr. Obama believes in free-markets by any means. On the contrary, he has done and said much that demonstrates his fundamental misunderstanding and hostility towards the truly free market. But a closer, honest examination of his policies and actions in office reveals that, much like the previous administration, he is very much a corporatist. This in many ways can be more insidious and worse than being an outright socialist.
Socialism is a system where the government directly owns and manages businesses. Corporatism is a system where businesses are nominally in private hands, but are in fact controlled by the government. In a corporatist state, government officials often act in collusion with their favored business interests to design polices that give those interests a monopoly position, to the detriment of both competitors and consumers.
A careful examination of the policies pursued by the Obama administration and his allies in Congress shows that their agenda is corporatist. For example, the health care bill that recently passed does not establish a Canadian-style government-run single payer health care system. Instead, it relies on mandates forcing every American to purchase private health insurance or pay a fine. It also includes subsidies for low-income Americans and government-run health care “exchanges”. Contrary to the claims of the proponents of the health care bill, large insurance and pharmaceutical companies were enthusiastic supporters of many provisions of this legislation because they knew in the end their bottom lines would be enriched by Obamacare.
Similarly, Obama’s “cap-and-trade” legislation provides subsidies and specials privileges to large businesses that engage in “carbon trading.” This is why large corporations, such as General Electric support cap-and-trade.
To call the President a corporatist is not to soft-pedal criticism of his administration. It is merely a more accurate description of the President’s agenda.
When he is a called a socialist, the President and his defenders can easily deflect that charge by pointing out that the historical meaning of socialism is government ownership of industry; under the President’s policies, industry remains in nominally private hands. Using the more accurate term – corporatism – forces the President to defend his policies that increase government control of private industries and expand de facto subsidies to big businesses. This also promotes the understanding that though the current system may not be pure socialism, neither is it free-market since government controls the private sector through taxes, regulations, and subsidies, and has done so for decades.
Using precise terms can prevent future statists from successfully blaming the inevitable failure of their programs on the remnants of the free market that are still allowed to exist. We must not allow the disastrous results of corporatism to be ascribed incorrectly to free market capitalism or used as a justification for more government expansion. Most importantly, we must learn what freedom really is and educate others on how infringements on our economic liberties caused our economic woes in the first place. Government is the problem; it cannot be the solution.
Texas Straight Talk – A Weekly Column
Rep. Ron Paul (R) – TX 14
Last week I introduced a very important piece of legislation that I hope will gain as much or more support as my Audit the Fed bill. HR 4995, the End the Mandate Act will repeal provisions of the newly passed health insurance reform bill that gives the government the power to force Americans to purchase government-approved health insurance.
The whole bill is rotten, but this provision especially is a blatant violation of the Constitution. Defenders claim the Congress’s constitutional authority to regulate “interstate commerce” gives it the power to do this. However, as Judge Andrew Napolitano and other distinguished legal scholars and commentators have pointed out, even the broadest definition of “regulating interstate commerce” cannot reasonably encompass forcing Americans to engage in commerce by purchasing health insurance. Not only is it unconstitutional; it is a violation of the basic freedom to make our own decisions regarding how best to meet the health care needs of ourselves and our families.
The new law requires Americans to have what is defined as “minimum essential coverage.” Some people may claim that the requirement to have “minimal essential coverage” does not impose an unreasonable burden on Americans. There are two problems with this claim. First, the very imposition of a health insurance mandate, no matter how “minimal,” violates the principles of individual liberty upon which this country was founded.
Second, the mandate is unlikely to remain “minimal” for long. The experience of states that allow their legislatures to mandate what benefits health insurance plans must cover has shown that politicizing health insurance inevitably makes it more expensive. As the cost of government-mandated health insurance rises, Congress will likely respond by increasing subsidies for more and more Americans, adding astronomically to our debt burden. An insurance mandate undermines the entire principle of what insurance is supposed to measure – risk.
Another likely response to rising costs is the imposition of price controls on medical treatments, and limits on what procedures and treatments mandatory insurance will have to reimburse. This is happening in other countries where government is intrinsically involved in these decisions and people suffer and die because of it.
This will only increase the bottom line of the very insurers the legislation was supposed to control. Meanwhile, alternate methods of healthcare delivery and financing, such as concierge doctors, alternative medicine, or physician owned hospitals will be greatly harmed, if not put out of business altogether, when the entire country is forced into the insurance model. It will be difficult for families to come up with extra money to pay for alternate healthcare of their choice when their budget has been squeezed by this mandate to buy insurance. This will in turn reduce competition for healthcare dollars. Health insurers, like many other corporations in other industries, have now used the legislative process anti-competitively to corner the healthcare market. Instead of calling this socialized medicine, we should call it corporatized medicine, since the reform is to force us all into being customers of these corporations, whether we like it or not.
Congress made a grave error by forcing all Americans to purchase health insurance. The mandate violates fundamental principles of individual liberty, and will lead to further government involvement in health care. It is time for legislation that fights back for the freedom of the people on this issue. It is time to End the Mandate.