President Obama: Government High

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

“The question for the media to ask at President Obama’s next news conference is not whether or not he’s smoking, but what?”

What is President Obama’s problem with free markets? Or with Capitalism, for that matter?

If a President doesn’t like the way a market is behaving, he can look for the influence of monopoly, “externalities” or other factors which are interfering with the outcome you might expect from a truly competitive offering of goods and services. Without question, there are markets which don’t work well – which is why we have and can create laws and simple programs to eliminate or correct for the influence of these non-competitive forces.

What we don’t want our government to do is create companies to compete with the private sector. To do so constitutes nothing less than a perversion of the role of government in a Capitalist economy. The government’s role when it comes to our economy is best described as “benevolent influence.” To go into competition with private sector firms, to set a benchmark for pricing and the delivery of products or services, reflects a ludicrous misunderstanding of our history and the design of the Capitalist engine which has made all we have accomplished possible.

Whether it’s an issue as important as healthcare, or as trivial as “widgets,” makes no difference. The question for the media to ask at President Obama’s next news conference is not whether or not he’s smoking, but what? Think of the precedent which offering a government health insurance program sets. Every time the President deems a market’s behavior inappropriate, does our government go into competition with the private sector to offer consumers an alternative he likes better?

This is one of those times when I don’t understand why anybody is missing this point. Maybe, like not seeing the forest from the trees, it’s so fundamental that no one in Washington gets it. It is the very nature of Democratic Capitalism that it precludes government as a participant, as a manufacturer of goods and services in the economy. The reasons are both too numerous to list, and too obvious to waste time describing. That’s not Capitalism.

We have elected a President who believes he and his government know more about running the economy than the economy itself. This man’s high on government like no one I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.

Well, heaven forbid I should be critical without offering an alternative solution. (1) Reach out to the medical profession for its help in defining the minimum coverage necessary to protect the health of all Americans. (2) Bring the insurance industry to the table to work with the medical profession to define the insurance program that would offer that standard coverage, every detail right down to the use of universal forms. (3) Subsidize the costs of obtaining that insurance for Americans who cannot afford it on their own. For people who can afford their own, probably superior coverage, they can continue to buy, directly or through their employers, whatever programs they choose.

President Obama may like to remind us, as he did at his Rose Garden press conference, that only he is President of the United States. Well, somebody, I guess that’s me, needs to remind the President that, when it comes to the economy, he has no idea who, or what, he’s dealing with. No one knowingly elected him to effect the de-Capitalism of America, and neither the people nor the economy will tolerate the government fiscal and national economic mess he’s making.

-wf


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2 responses to “President Obama: Government High

  1. Our health should not be treated like a commodity. If that means the “de-Capitalism of America” then so be it.

    • Hi, Blue Jay. I agree with your first sentence emphatically.

      As for your second, it suggests that government competition with the private sector is the only viable means of delivering the promise of universal healthcare — even if that were what the President’s program would accomplish.

      Other than inexperience and, at the risk of being harsh, arrogance, there is no basis for President Obama’s obsessive confidence in the ability of government to do what’s right, and apparent lack of understanding of how the private sector works and the implications of government interference with it.

      That we should do something about providing health insurance to the millions of Americans who can’t afford it is way, way overdue. That having been said, what’s his hurry? Like the stimulus package he pushed through Congress, the President’s concept of healthcare reform smacks of someone rushing through a checklist of campaign promises — without regard for costs or effectiveness.

      That having been said, it’s always good to hear from you. – wf

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