A Lament on Politicians

The health care debate increases the sense of frustration among Americans. As a college gratuate with a degreee in economics, I suppose I view the world more in economic terms that others.

Mary Jo Kilroy is a politician and sees things in political terms . In the previous post, she reasons (from false facts, I believe) that because the polls show Americans want free health care, politicians should give it to them. Mary Jo, if a majority of Americans wanted a villa in Majorca, would it be Congress's duty to give it to them?

As someone at least somewhat trained in economics, it seems clear that most of what the politicians spout about their universal health care plans is nonsense. The claims that a government option will "promote competition" is laughable.

John R. Lott, Professor of Economics, describes some elements of a proposed Congressional "reform" of health care insurance here. Government mandates are a little like trying to legislate the weather. There are forces, real market forces that exist even if supposedly legislated out of existence -- as the Soviets tried to do -- that will govern behavior notwithstanding legislation. This phenomenon is sometimes called the law of unintended consequences.

Like Cash for Clunkers. Congress did not think that one through. The bad part of the results: used cars taken out of the market hurting those who cannot afford new cars, used parts dealers (e.g., salvage yards) losing supply again hurting the poor, poor program administration resulting in arcane rules and slow pay for new car dealers, and on and on.

The point is that any legislation that messes with the markets will accomplish things, mostly bad, that the drafters never foresaw, along with many bad things that the critics do foresee.

Perhaps if politicians had mandatory training in economics, they would begin to understand that everything cannot be successfully regulated. Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman's book Capitalism and Freedom should be required reading for everyone in Congress. Alas, I think most of them are reading Karl Marx's fully discredited Das Kapital.


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