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Assault On Entrepreneurs

Obama's plans would be pretty hard on us.

It's not surprising. He's never displayed any knowledge of, or interest in business. If anything, his attitude (and unfortunately, John McCain's as well) is that there is something ignoble about profits (hence his self-righteous preening about his choice of becoming a community organizer instead of "going to Wall Street").


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Chris Gerrib wrote:

I read the article cited, and found it full of problems.

1) Taxes don't go up in Obama's plan until you get over $600K of income.
2) Obama's plan is single-payer, like Canada's, not socialized medicine, like the UK's plan. My Canadian readers on my blog seem to like their health care, and I am not aware of any political effort by Canadians to get rid of their health plan. This suggests that maybe it works.
3) The problem with trickle-down is that rich folks might be angel investors. Or they might just fly to Tahiti. You want angel investors, target your tax code.
4) The article assumes that McCain's plan will reduce health-care costs, which is debatable.

Carl Pham wrote:

Say, Chris, did you notice the violent logical contradiction between your points (1) and (4)? In (1), you simply accept Obama's assertion that he can do all he wants -- free health care for all 45 million uninsured! Alternative energy magic leading to oil independence in 10 years! Eliminate combustion as a source of industrial energy! -- without raising taxes on anyone making less than $600,000. In (4) you critically assess McCain's plan and conclude it won't work, the numbers don't add up, something's got to give.

In short, you just take Obama at his word, and assume McCain is blowing campaign smoke. See the problem? With that kind of open bias, it's hard to take the rest of what you say seriously.

As for the posters on your blog liking Canadian healthcare, here's a similar anecdotal survey. Look for the paragraph labeled "Show of Hands" near the bottom.

Or then there's this or this. Brrr. Glad I live where if I want the best care and I want it right now, I can hire someone to give it to me, and I don't have to stand in some flinkin' government line while a bureaucrat accountable to no one at all decides when whether, and what kind of medicine I can buy. Yes, I'd rather have the option to buy a Ferrari if I want one than have the government tax away all my money and issue me the same Yugo everyone else gets. Blech.

Michael Lonie wrote:

Canada's single payer national health scheme only works, insofar as it does work, because thousands of Canadians can come to the USA every year and get the diagnosis and treatment they need in a timely manner but cannot get in Canada. Canada is now flirting with a ten month waiting list for maternity beds.

Every time politicians promise that their tax increases will only hit "the rich" the taxes in fact end up hitting ordinary people as well. Since the tax rate cuts put in under Bush the percentage of actual income tax payed in by the highest earners has risen. It is a much higher percentage of the tax intake, at the lower rates, than it was when the highest marginal tax rate was 70 percent. The lowest 50 percent of income earners pay almost no income taxes at all. They pay social security taxes, but that is supposed to be a retirement savings scheme.

Obama is a rent seeker, and always has been. He does not understand any other way of making a living, holds such other ways of making a living in contempt, and seems to think the whole country can live that way.

Larry J wrote:

Every time politicians promise that their tax increases will only hit "the rich" the taxes in fact end up hitting ordinary people as well.

Very true. The 16th Amendment allowing for the income tax was ratified in 1913 because people were told it would only hit the rich. A few years later when the US entered WWI, it was expanded to just about everybody and has been that way ever since. Likewise with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). That was passed back in the late 1960s because - horror of horrors - a few hundred wealthy families took advantage of the provisions in the tax code to avoid having to pay income tax. The AMT was passed to ensure that couldn't happen but the morons in Congress didn't index it to inflation. Now, the tax that was supposed to only hit the very rich is impacting millions of middle class families.

Chris Gerrib wrote:

McCain's health-care: I assume it won't work for the simple reason that lack of competition is not the cause for high health care costs. The causes are:
1) uninsured Americans, who use emergency rooms, the most expensive form of health care.
2) Our current system of pricing insurance, which doesn't create a large enough pool to spread costs.

Canadian health care: I merely repeat what Canadian respondents to my blog tell me. I will say that if exporting sick people overseas is a sign of problematic health care, then the US is having a problem. The Chicago Tribune recently ran a very lengthy article on "medical tourists" going to India from the US.

Inevitablity of tax hikes: That cuts both ways, folks. We are adding (before the recent AIG round of bailouts) $400 billion in debt this year. Cutting $20 billion in earmarks is not going to fix that problem.

Andy Freeman wrote:

> 3) The problem with trickle-down is that rich folks might be angel investors. Or they might just fly to Tahiti. You want angel investors, target your tax code.

You say "fly to Tahiti" like it's a bad thing.

Take "buy a yacht". We targetted that as "bad spending" and wiped out several companies and a lot of jobs. It turns out that boats are made by biz and people. The govt spending enabled by said taxes didn't produce nearly as many benefits as toy buying by rich people.

I suspect that "fly to Tahiti" works the same way.

The question always comes down to "does money spent by govt do more good than money spent by people". The answer is almost always "yes".

And, while there are good things that govts do, when it comes down to it, those things get cut first. And, we're funding the whole mess, not just the good things, and the whole is definitely bad.

Carl Pham wrote:

Oh come on, Chris. You're just going to whip two random plausible-sounding causes out of your ass and believe that's all there is to it? What, you think all those smarty-pants lawyers and doctors running Kaiser are just stooopid, can't figure out what you can? Get a grip. The rest of the world is not stuck at half your IQ.

If it was simple and obvious how to get better health care for less money, why, it would have been done by now. It's not like Paul Allen wouldn't start up Cheap But Wonderful Health Care For You, Inc., sell great care at bargain prices, and make unbelievable amounts of money for his stockholders, if it could be done at all.

Let's try putting on the thinking cap at least square up our questions, make sure they're logical and precise. First of all, what do you mean by "high" health care costs? "High" compared to what?

High compared to what you'd like to pay? Well, what costs wouldn't be? Zero? Sucks to be mortal and fragile, but that's what we are. Most people spend about as much on health care in a year as they spend on cable television and cell phone service. But they don't complain about the latter, do they? Because they don't think of them in some vague sense as a "right," or the need for them as some dirty trick that Nature (or government) played on them. A certain amount of the whining is just the age-old rant against reality that we have to sicken and die. Seems so unfair. Can't someone do something about this?

High compared to 50 years ago? Back when there was just about zip you could do for someone with cancer or heart disease or high cholesterol or a stroke or childhood leukemia aside from say a prayer? You know, health care costs were really low in the 15th century. They'd also be really low if we just stopped treating people, which is kind of what they do in Canada and Britain to keep the costs down. (Look up the survival times for various types of serious cancer if you don't believe this.)

High compared to other countries? Well, the best -- and no one doubts that the best and most advanced medical care is in the United States -- costs. You want a Ferrari, it costs big bucks. If you're OK with a VW Beetle, you can have it for a lot less.

High compared to the price of goods, like computers and cars? Now we reach an interesting point. One of the sad aspects of technology is that it makes it possible for some economic activities (but not others) to become incredibly efficient: one person can be responsible for the manufacture of hundreds of computers or cars, if they're assembled by machines and robots, and he just keeps track of things at a workstation.

But medicine doesn't work like that. No matter how much technology you get, each patient needs a certain minimum amount of doctor and nurse face time. Technology does not multiply the power of human labor in medicine nearly the way it can in manufacturing or farming. So, not surprisingly, over time the cost of goods declines relative to the cost of medical care.

Or, to put it another way, technology makes it inevitable that, over time, you will spend a higher and higher fraction of your income on medicine, and a lower and lower fraction on goods. There are many other parts of the economy where this change has taken place historically, if you think about it. What fraction of our income do we spend on food, compared to our 18th century ancestors? Way less. What fraction on housing? Way more. Technology again. Tractors and combines can fantastically multiply the power of human labor in farming, and push the real price of food way way down, but technology can't increase the amount of land for sale near jobs in downtown LA.

Chris Gerrib wrote:

Carl -

Per, Americans spend twice as much per capita on health care as the median for industrialized nations, yet we have lower life expectancies, fewer doctors, and relatively high infant mortality rates. This leads me to suspect that our system is internally inefficient.

The rest of your post about health care costs implies to me that you haven't thought through the problem. I suggest you read the lengthy article I linked to, as unfortunately I don't have the time to write a long and off-topic post on health care costs.

Leland wrote:

3) The problem with trickle-down is that rich folks might be angel investors. Or they might just fly to Tahiti. You want angel investors, target your tax code.

So your idea of freedom and liberty is taxing people, so they can't take vacations where they want. Apparently you think the purpose of the tax code is to oppress people.

Personally, I don't want "angel investors" (whatever that means) or a tax code designed to prevent people from doing the things they want. I prefer a tax code that allows people to invest as they choose, and if they choose to invest in a trip to Tahiti, then that's their choice. Why should the government use tax codes to control the social habits of citizens?

Leland wrote:

I suggest you read the lengthy article I linked to, as unfortunately I don't have the time to write a long and off-topic post on health care costs.

Please don't do so on Rand's blog. Many of us who enjoy reading and commenting on Rand's blog do so because we find he has interesting topics that we want to read. If you find time, write about topics you are interested in on your own blog, so that readers of Rand's blog can continue to enjoy the topics that Rand chooses.

Andy Freeman wrote:

Anyone who believes that the US govt can cheaply provide health care should explain why the US govt doesn't already do so.

Between the various programs, the US govt currently provides health care to about as many people as the various private systems. Curiously, govt spending on health care is about the same as total private spending.

If you're going to argue that govt can provide cheap and good health care, feel free to demonstrate that by actually doing so. Then open up govt health care at cost and watch the private system go away as people flee its high prices.

However, until govt health care actually is cheaper, it's absurd to argue that it will be.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 25, 2008 8:46 AM.

Defining Rape Down was the previous entry in this blog.

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