Republican Collectivism

Ayn Rand once remarked that 'No one can defeat us now — except the Republicans.' And very little highlights the prescience of that particular quote better than today's farcical health care debate.
Larry-elder

The most disturbing part of the ObamaCare debate is not about where Republicans and Democrats disagree, but where they agree.

Take this issue of those with pre-existing illnesses. Many Republicans actually support government action to prevent insurance companies from refusing to insure them. Ignoring the benefits of cost-lowering free market competition and the role of charity, many Republicans believe it acceptable to force an insurance company — in business to insure against unknown risks — to "insure" someone currently experiencing a known risk.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., supports legislation to "eliminate pre-existing conditions" as a reason for a carrier to deny coverage. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., says government needs "to take care of things like pre-existing conditions so that that doesn't stop (people) from getting insurance." Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, supports prohibiting "insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions or charging higher premiums to people who are sick."

But this should not surprise anyone who observes the allegedly "fiscally conservative," "pro-free market," "limited government" party in action. From the acceptance of the New Deal to government bailouts of private industry, Republicans — sooner or later — go along.

Here are just a few recent examples. Republican President George W. Bush, for a time, worked with a Republican House and Senate. Bush promised and delivered a prescription benefits bill for seniors. It expanded Medicare, the popular under-funded entitlement program passed — with Republican support, by the way — in 1965. We like seniors. Seniors vote. So if they struggle with their drugs bills, why, by all means make someone else help pay them.

On the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by his father, Bush bragged about the law's importance and effectiveness. That such an assault on private employers engenders praise says much about the GOP's acceptance of federal government's command and control.

Like Hamlet, Bush agonized over whether to support federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. He never said, "Why are we asking government to spend taxpayer money on research that is — or should be — done by the private sector or nonprofits?"

No Child Left Behind ties federal dollars to local schools' performance. Where is the outrage about taxpayers in one state paying for education in another? What gives educrats in Washington, D.C., the skills, wisdom and competence to run schools in all 50 states? More importantly, what clause in the Constitution permits this?

Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan campaigned to shut down the Department of Education. Reagan failed. Today any candidate making such promises gets a one-way ticket to Shutter Island.

The entire ObamaCare debate starts off in the wrong place — with Republicans agreeing that "reform" is necessary, health care "costs too much" and that government must "make health care more affordable." But it is because of government — laws, regulations and policies — that users pay more for services and drugs than they otherwise would.

Licensing requirements restrict potential caregivers. A non-doctor field medic in Iraq or Afghanistan could not come home, hang up a shingle, and render basic care without facing prosecution. Despite our aging population, trade associations, along with laws and regulations, restrict the number of doctors.

Insurance companies enjoy protected markets because laws restrict carriers from competing across state lines. The Food and Drug Administration increases the cost of drugs while delaying or keeping possibly beneficial drugs off the market.

Republicans ran for the exits when Bush attempted a partial privatization of Social Security. And they should encourage a full-throated deregulation/privatization of the health care industry.

After airline deregulation, fares declined. After telephone deregulation, telecommunications companies started providing a numbing array of services — along with better quality, lower prices and constant innovation.

Because government pays for nearly half of medical costs, we have a nation of government-provided-health-care dependents. Understandably, they want what they currently have or expect to have in the near future. But Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are steadily gnawing away at the country's foundation. The bill is coming due.

In 1900, government at all levels — federal, state and local — took about 7 percent of America's income. Today it's almost 40 percent. And that doesn't include an estimated 10 percent cost in federal unfunded mandates imposed on states and private business. President Barack Obama and Democrats want to add more than 30 million people — those without health insurance — to the takers, with little or no concern about the effect on the givers.

Are Republicans sounding the alarm about government's present intrusion in health care and its counterproductive effect on quality, affordability and accessibility? Government, they should argue and persuade, grows at the expense of the productive. This eventually weakens the country by sapping the incentive of risk takers. This makes it harder — not easier — to help those we claim to care about.

A collectivist, whether an active or passive one, is still a collectivist. Having an "R" after the name provides no defense.

Larry Elder is a syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His latest book, "What's Race Got to Do with It?" is available now. To find out more about Larry Elder, visit his Web page at www.WeveGotACountryToSave.com.

12 comments from readers  

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It's a little like showing up at the insurance company with your house on fire, and asking to buy fire insurance.

"But.. your house is on fire."

"I know. How much for fire insurance?"
Andrew S
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Hear hear. It's such a simple statement to make - "government's current involvement in our health care system is the cause of the system's problems" - one has to wonder why the Republicans, even if they don't understand the issue, at least don't learn those words and use them as a mantra.
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Mr. Elder. So everyone is now on the same side eh? It means that the men and women who people the House, are stupid, and really have no understanding of their jobs, their responsibilities. Or worse, they DO understand, and are patently Evil. I am an advanced senior citizen in Canada. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, but I doubt I shall be here to see it. When America is brought to her knees by the imbeciles in Government, it will also bring an end to Socialism, once and for all. With the seizure of America the Socialists haven't reached the zenith of their power, they have reached the ignominious end of their mindless dreams.

Millions read Atlas yet went out and voted for an avowed communist. Go figure. The most sincere Kudo for the individual is he is relatively intelligent, but put him into a mass, and it is utterly insane, incapable of a rational thought.
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Excellent! We badly need a return to the principle that legitimate government is that which protects and preserves the sovereign rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government cannot do this when it takes it upon itself to provide for the happiness of some at the expense of the happiness of others. A critical rule for every politician should be that he should first do no harm to the pursuit of happiness by any American, so long as that citizen does not initiate the use of force. We each and every one, not just the democratic majority, have the right to the ownership of our bodies, the self-management of our health, the right to perform productive work, freedom of independent thought, and the development and exercise of our sexuality. Politicians will never recognize these rights unless We the People insist on them. It is up to us to become unrelenting advocates of the principles of individual rights. I greatly appreciate Larry Elder's latest attempt to encourage us to do so.
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Wonderful! I agree with everything you said and, although I'm Canadian, I am also an Objectivist--and so I am very interested in US politics. We Canadians have voted-in Steven Harper's conservative government for many years now, and although it is not anywhere close enough to "Objectivist-Conservative" standards, at least they have managed to hold on to power in what is generally a left-leaning populace.

That makes me wonder--"to what extent is subterfuge (throwing-in an occasional leftist sop) a permitted objectivist tactic. After all, many of us feel that we are in the final stages of a war to preserve western civilization; there may not be many 'battles' left to fight, so we have to ensure victory in each and every one.

Incidentally, while most Americans are barely aware of the existence of Canada, I do feel that, for American Objectivists especially, there is a lot to be learned from the recent Canadian political experience.

Thanks for making the issue so clear in your excellent article.
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Thank you, Mr. Elder, for your outstanding article. I often think that our founding fathers would be heartsick to see what is happening today to the country that they risked so much to nurture into being. Would that any of our present-day elected representatives possessed one tenth of their wisdom and courage. . . .
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What struck me lately, was how the uninsured are going to be covered. The government is going to simply mandate that everyone must have a health care insurance policy. If you don't buy one, you will be fined thru the IRS, I think. This is truly an outrageous policy, but very few talk about this fact explicitly. They all seem to think such a mandate is perfectly alright, unless or until the Supreme Court MAY strike it down. Aren't all elected officials under oath to defend and protect the Constitution? Why must they wait for the courts to first abide by the Constitution?

Keep up the fight, Larry. It looks like we are going to lose, but keep up the fight, if you have the strength. Thanks.
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You are exactly right! I give you the highest marks for a case well made!

Republicans are only interested in, "How can I avoid paying for my son-in-law's diabetes?" and "How can I get the federal exclusive contract on non-latex gloves?" NOT "How can we save this country before it's too late?"

It has come to a point when mostly what we produce is no longer products but rather entertainment, insurance, and credit. A national health plan would basically nationalize (or nationally regulate and subsidize) insurance.

The Chinese are some day going to call their loans, which make our current "credit industry" still viable. When that happens,... the music is going to stop. No mo' entertainment, no mo' production, ciao dulce vita, adios America.
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Why is the public so ignorant as to think that their medical costs are going to go down if the government gets involved?

If medical costs do go down our tax burden will cover that amount probably 10 times over. What the state gives out with one hand it ccollects and legislates and manages and governs in ways far more expensive than anywhere else.
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Can we imagine what it will be like when every person without insurance that has any ailment, dumps that ailment with it's needed treatments/surgeries onto the healthcare system at once? Do 'our' legislators even try to imagine it? Oh yeah, it'll work in the same way that we'll get "cheap" energy from windmills, while that new green industry employs "millions" of "high paid" workers doing what we used to do with a power-plant and a few guys..
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Health insurance is misnamed. it's not insurance, except for the fact that it's offered by insurance companies.

It's a government regulated and subsidized industry that pays for people's healthcare, already. It's not like this is free market activity that is somehow unsullied. And it's broken. It needs to be fixed.

Pre-existing conditions is a blanket reason to drop any insured person who gets sick, whether it was truly pre-existing or not. I've seen this done on many people over the years. To jump up in defense of this practice is to completely not understand the real context that the practice is used under.

If they aren't going to cover my costs, I have no use for them. Scrap the entire system, make it a charitable national fund, that individuals and 'real' insurers (read as 'catastrophic care'. If you want someone to pay for your doctor visits, get an accountant, or join a pool. don't call it insurance) can contribute to. Privately run, if possible.

Either that, or let the Obamacare take over. But the status quo has to go.
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In addition to the comments contained in this article, the fundamental flaw in private and government medical insurance programs is the idea that even minor illnesses are covered. Insurance policies in nearly all other fields cover only major losses. Such provisions require the individual/company to cover the cost of minor claims themselves. This in turn allows self-interest and the free market to keep associated costs in check.
To post comments, please log in first. The Atlasphere is a social networking site for admirers of Ayn Rand's novels, most notably The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In addition to our online magazine, we offer a member directory and a dating service. If you share our enjoyment of Ayn Rand's novels, please sign up or log in to post comments.