News for Democrats: Profits Push Costs Down
Harry Reid's renowned for shooting his mouth off with his brain only half-loaded. But we don't need his occasional lapse one way or another for us to know that for him, ObamaCare is only a "stepping stone," or a "work ... passed," on the nation's way to a single-payer health insurance system. That's been his goal all along, just as it's all along been the goal of Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and hundreds of other committed leftists in the Democratic Party in and out of government.
Which means that in the extremely unlikely event ObamaCare does everything they promised us -- that is, insure the forty million currently without medical insurance and actually let everybody keep the insurance and doctor he or she likes, and all for an "affordable" price -- it's still not game over for the Democrats. It seems it didn't ever matter to them whether ObamaCare worked or not, just as long as it furthered the cause.
Indeed, the closer you examine their motives in enacting ObamaCare, the more it smells like the only thing that really mattered to them was the vast regulatory powers which accompanied the Affordable Care Act. These powers gave government the means to play the Settlers and Indians Game.
As in kill all the buffalo so that all the Plains Indians, even the proudest warriors among them, are forced onto government reservations in order to eat.
"Put down your rifle, Red-Face, and pick up your little bag of corn."
Or in the case of ObamaCare, use its fifty thousand pages of regulations to smash-mouth the nation's innumerable and intricate doctor, patient, specialist, insurance, and hospital networks in order to leave them dead and skinned for the vultures to pick over.
"Put down that Blue Cross card, Zit-Face, and take this little number I'm giving you."
But the really, really sad part is that most people will want to. Take that little number, that is, because unless conservatives do something, these people will have swallowed something like the following story-line:
In a spirit of bipartisan conciliation, the Democratic Party embraced the fundamentals of RomneyCare, the very plan Republican Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts, first proposed by the Republican think-tank Newt Gingrich was with. But in the worst display of political partisanship in living memory, Republicans divided the country by doing everything thing they could to sabotage their own plan -- and so threatened their membership, especially women, that not one Republican congressperson voted for their own law. Then they held up funding even to the point of shutting down the government. No government -- no family, for that matter -- could adequately plan or budget in such a matter, and it's became a complicated disaster -- a complicated Republican-caused disaster, in which certain insurance companies and rich Republicans are getting even richer.
So the only way to go on from here is to pick up the pieces and do what the American people wanted us to do in the first place. Adopt the single-payer system, and make certain that never again will rich Republicans, big insurance companies, or big drug companies and their unconscionable profits stand between children and mothers, the disabled, both the poor and the middle class, and their access to quality health care.
Indeed, Americans will be lining up behind single-payer with all the ferocity of stampeding flat-screen TV shoppers on Black Friday, because they've forever bought some form of this "Simple Math" pitch.
Simply put, Democrat "Simple Math" holds that if Walter is selling widgets to the public for a dollar and making a profit of twenty percent, government can take the enterprise over and sell widgets for eighty cents. In other words, profits stand in the way of affordability, access -- a lower price. Which in this case means of course, that the only thing standing between your family and affordable medical care is, yes, those evil rich Republican and big-drug-company, big-insurance-company profits.
It's a rationale that conservatives can never seem to contradict the simple idiocy of. Of course, there are a million reams of intelligent discourse that refute "Simple Math," not to mention thousands of books on the shelves of our libraries, but in all of that, not one single sentence as convincing as the lie.
Take my small-town dump. It had been run for years, and very well, too, by a private contractor and his daughter, but one day I get there and its gates are padlocked with a notice that we temporarily have to use a neighboring town's dump.
So I go to the Town Hall and find that the Town Board had decided to take the dump over. When I asked why, I was told by a woman in the clerk's office that "we won't have to worry about making profit. So we can pass that savings on to the people. It's simple math."
Sure enough, when I got to the dump the next day with four cans of extra-malodorous garbage, it was open, but with a sign announcing its new shorter hours and its increase in fees. Also a notice that they weren't accepting cash or credit cards any longer. So I dumped one last time and ordered a dumpster.
The same "Simple Math" that had the British Labor government taking over of the steel, shipbuilding, coal-mining, and what-all-else industries after World War II, intending to reduce prices by consolidating and eliminating the British capitalists' unconscionable profit. But what they got instead was a catastrophe. Prices went up, not down; innovation fled those industries, along with the smartest engineers; and eventually the government had to sell these businesses back to new private shareholders.
A really funny example of how "Simple Math" worked out closer to home is the cement (concrete) business in Manhattan. Its prices are the highest in the nation because, as the government once postured, the crime boss Fat Tony Salerno and/or his descendants in perdition run it. So the government financed a rival cement plant, the West 57th Street Corporation, which wouldn't make pay-offs or any of that bad, bad profit.
And guess what? The government concrete wound up being seven dollars more per yard than the Mafia concrete.
And it turns out this way, always. Be it with British Steel, Manhattan concrete, my small-town dump, or in Russia, where Lenin's ruthless application of "Simple Math" guaranteed that ninety-eight out of the hundred most common consumer items available off the shelf prior to the Russian Revolution vanished after it.
Because all other things being equal, profit holds cost down. You cannot subtract profit them from price and wind up with a new lower price. Instead, you always wind up with a higher one. And that's all you have to say whenever "Simple Math" pops up! "Profits push costs down." Indeed, the bigger the profit, the cheaper something will be in the long run, because huge profits draw new thinking and new entrepreneurs.
John D. Rockefeller was vilified for his trusts, accused of looting the public with the vast profits he made. Yet every year he was free to operate and accumulate all that cash, the price of refined crude fell. Indeed, it's unappreciated, not even recognized for the most part, how much these "Robber Barons" radically changed the standard of living in the United States by pushing the costs of everyday items often to a hundredth part of the earlier price. Andrew Carnegie, for example, became the richest man in the world by pushing the price of steel from seven dollars a pound to three pounds for two cents.
Profit pushes costs down.
Say it and save us.
Postscript for the New Year:
One: the Poles had a saying about moving back into a free economy from a Socialist one -- "It's easy to turn an aquarium into fish soup, but the process doesn't work so well in the other direction." Yet they more or less did exactly that. So cherish that thought this new year.
Two: It's true that the end of 2013 has more incumbent Democrats wetting their Tommy Hilfiger undies than at any time since Ronald Reagan's second-term blowout, but not those who have long ago sold their souls to the dark side. So it's a good time in this new year to tell those who may yet be saved from those from whom you or your children should never accept anything to eat or drink.
Richard F. Miniter is the author of The Things I Want Most, Random House, BDD. He lives and writes in the colonial era hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York, blogs at richardfminiterblog.com and can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.