Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unintended Consequences

I truly believe that vast majority of people who run for public office in this country does so because of a calling to serve a purpose higher than yourself. They are patriots who believe that one person can make difference in the world. I happen to believe that as well. The sad part is that once you reach a certain level, the power starts to corrupt, the ego becomes over-blown, and you can longer see the forest through the trees. The founders put in check and balances to our system to deal with this human failing.

Many laws that we pass start out for very good reasons. After the scare of lead paint in toys imported from China we passed tougher laws to protect our children. No one can complain that the government is trying to save our kids from lead poisoning. We passed a law Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) last year. This was done with all the right intentions. The unintended consequences are some ball point pens are now illegal, libraries have had to get rid of older books (printed before 1985), battery terminals on such products as ATV’s, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are being outlawed. This law also includes baby clothing, toys and the like. The law requires very extensive testing before the products can be sold in this country. This has destroyed some small businesses. The extensive testing that is required is beyond what a small business can afford. They also leave themselves open to liability, so they have just closed their doors.

Many states around the country have been forced by the courts to increase the amount of money spent per pupil in the public school systems. In Kentucky the test scores of black students have actually fallen since the passing of the laws in 1989. In Wyoming the 1995 ruling forced the legislators to increase the funding to make the school system the “best”. They are now actually falling behind neighboring states even though the demographics are relatively the same. It has become abundantly clear that laws forcing the states to spend more money on public education are not the answer to woefully under-achieving school systems. The unintended consequence is that we have put even more stress on our state budgets, and have very little to show for the additional costs.

If our government makes decisions without thinking of the far reaching consequences that inevitably come down the road, why in heavens name would we trust them with something as important as our health care? How can any of us trust that it has been carefully thought through? Even the rhetoric seems disingenuous. We keep hearing that the number of people uninsured in this country is 47 million. This number is just not accurate. 10 million of these people are not US Citizens, 11 million of these people are eligible for government programs such as Medicare, and just have not signed up. Another large chunk of these people make more than $75,000 per year and CHOOSE not to have insurance. So this leaves about 15 million who actually are long-term uninsured. That means it is less than 4% of our population. We are going to over-haul our entire system for that small of a percentage?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that our system needs work. I have been in a situation with a major illness that caused a financial meltdown in my life. It took me eight years to climb out of that debt ridden hole. Even with everything that I went through with that illness and the after effects of my financial life afterwards, I still do not believe that socialized medicine is the answer. There are other things that we can do that will address some of these problems. Health savings accounts, vouchers for the chronically uninsured, and tort reform to name just three such choices.

The creditability of the administration saying that they are not looking for a single payer system is just not there. We are told that we will still have choice. That will not be the case if your job no longer offers the option of coverage. The majority of people in this country are employed by small businesses. If it behooves a small business to give a small pay raise and cut out the insurance that is not a choice. The President makes it seem that the choice will be ours. It will be our employers. We as a society need to ask ourselves if we want the systems that are currently in European countries and Canada. That will be the unintended consequence of President Obama’s health care plan.

1 comment:

Opus #6 said...

This is so true. I like the wait times you listed in your prior post. That is why cancer is so much more deadly in the UK and Canada, compared to the US.

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