Desperate Man Robs Store For One Dollar In Order To Go To Jail To Get Health Coverage

Shame Of America: Desperate Man Robs Store For One Dollar In Order To Go To Jail To Get Health Coverage | ThinkProgress.

This is fantastic statement, but as a political message it’s misguided. Verone seems  like a sincere guy who was simply responding to incentives. It’s a shame he didn’t find a better solution. But it’s important to think through this situation; it is not an argument against markets. If anything it’s an argument in favor of freeing markets to allow greater growth.

The author commenting on Verone’s story is making a free lunch argument, akin to saying, “if government provided cars, I would have a good quality car for free.” It would be great if that were the case, but the fact remains that there is no free lunch. If government provided health care means more spending on health care, it also means less spending on other things we value (like taking another trip to go see Grandma, or sending your kids to a better school) (it also means more spending on IRS agents).

As a student of economics I routinely see people ignore the nature of the market–the humanity of it and the drive for something better that has allowed civilization as we know it to advance so much over the past 300 years (it’s worth remembering that most everyone was poor before then and even kings lived a miserable life compared to the poor today).

If we look at a short-run picture of the economy, it is simple to redistribute resources to create a more egalitarian circumstance. However, this requires eliminating (or greatly reducing) private property rights, which are a corner stone of markets and civilization itself. By denying markets the ability to function, we freeze economic progress at best, and at worst end up with a broken system requiring too much paperwork for too little effective care.

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3 responses

Your argument ignores the fact that a free market depends upon consumers who are willing and able to purchase the product. But even that assumes that healthcare is a commodity no different than buying a car. That is simply not the case. An unhealthy population that has limited options to be healthy (quality, affordable healthcare that promotes preventative medicine) is a drain on the rest of the population. Moreover, an unhealthy population has little to no incentive to be productive members of the population at large, since the rules that govern said population don’t really affect the unhealthy members. This is not to say that I favor socialized medicine. It is to say that we have a major problem and we need to fix it. And it is so great a problem that it goes well beyond the tired, worn out, polarized “either or” argument (either you’re a conservative capitalist or you’re a liberal socialist). The real argument in our current climate is whether your point of view really matters (and whether the argument of your polar opposite really matters). I don’t believe they do. Why? Because these arguments do not affect the day-to-day people who live the problem. They will find solutions one way or the other. If history is any teacher, then we’d better pay more attention to them, or they will come up with solutions that make the “either or” people feel like they’ve been left out. Come to think of it, that’s not such a bad idea. How long have we heard the back and forth from these two camps, the conservatives and the liberals? And what exactly have they done to advance the greatest country on our planet? Let’s take a quick tally. Massive debt (both camps have had a hand in that for the last 50 years), decaying infrastructure, a lower educational ranking (despite efforts from both camps to fix the problem over several decades), etc, etc, etc. The country deserves better than this. The sum total of our ability is better than this.

Price fixing may be part of the problem, but it isn’t the only cause. Looking at costs in general provides clear evidence of this, not only in the arena of medical care, but in many other venues as well. There is clear evidence that most basic goods and services have risen sharply in recent years and risen steadily in the recent decades. Why is that? What is the underlying cause of inflationary costs? And will “open market operations” be the sole solution? The problem will not go away by simply entrenching oneself in a particular position. It requires a concerted effort from all parties to sit down and solve the problem for the sake of the nation. The problem is to the level of being at war. When a nation is at war, the war is not won by people sitting on opposite sides of the room and posturing over concepts. It is solved by a care for the good of the whole country. What is best for our nation as a whole? How will we ensure that our nation will prosper in the coming decades? How will we put the “greater good” as our first priority? Your answer does not adequately respond to these questions (and healthcare is built in to these questions for sure). More important, it ignores people in the marketplace who are supposedly going to benefit from open market operations. We’ve been trying our hand at that for a while now in other areas of the economy. And I believe that a number of people proved the error in placing all their eggs in the basket of that argument…at least those who enjoyed the benefit of buying and selling credit default swaps. So if you are referring to those who can actually participate and understand an unregulated open market…and afford to do so…then I suppose you have a point. But I know first hand that there are many who do not on all counts. They will drain any benefit from a free market and already are doing so. So even if you don’t care for them from a humanitarian perspective, you may want to give them some attention from a free market perspective. But alas, we’re like dogs chasing our tails with this line of reasoning…because we’re back to that original point of the blanket concept of “open market operations.” So, my friend, I wish you well in promoting that position for those that have the means to participate in it. As a patriot and as a Christian, I owe it to my neighbors who don’t have the benefits that your argument takes for granted. I pray that one day that will change…not only for their benefit, but for yours as well.

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