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August 1, 2009
Malthus, Obama, and AT's James Lewis
One of AT's most popular frequent contributors is James Lewis, as clear thinking a writer we publish here.
In addition to a piece in today's AT on Hillary Clinton, James has a slam bang piece featured at Pajamas Media that outlines President Obama's "Malthusian Lock Box" thinking about health care.
In short, health care is not a zero sum game; someone's use of the health care system does not mean that someone else loses. All can benefit through intelligent management of the system that would seek to expand health care rather than ration it.
James, in his inimitable style, uses the example of the Inuits to highlight Obama's thinking:
The Inuit of the Arctic used to sacrifice their old people to save food for the rest of the clan during the long winters. The elders were expected to commit suicide. As they ran low on food and fuel, as sled dogs were slaughtered and eaten, the old ones walked into the long night and died. It made sense because there was a limited amount of food and warmth, and so many months of cold and darkness to go before the sun came back. If the elders resisted they might be publicly shamed. They would rather die. And so they walked into the snow.
It's astonishing, but that's the reasoning Barack Obama is using for the United States today. Obama's command seizure of one-sixth of the American economy is based on the assumption that medicine is a zero-sum game. The trouble is that Obama's assumption is false - and destructive. It has been falsified by every single advance in human health since the Industrial Revolution. It's simply not true that there is a fixed supply of medical care, one that cannot grow, become more effective, cost less, and make our lives better and longer. It is not true that my gain must be your loss.
And in his usual insightful manner, James asks the questions that go to the heart of what the Democrats are proposing:
So here's the question for every American. Under ObamaCare, when we really will have to divide up a Malthusian lockbox of federal money, how much will your life be worth? Your spouse's? Your child's? Your parents'? If you are an aging boomer, is your life worth as much as Sarah Palin's baby, born with Down Syndrome? And whom do you trust with the God-like power to make those decisions?
If we have a limited budget for all medical care - no more and no less - who is entitled to that extra dollar of care? Is it Michelle Obama or you? Your grandchildren? Ted Kennedy? Or some family in Somalia? For socialists, all the people of the world deserve the same medical care that you get. There is a fixed amount of medical dollars in the world. Your gain is their loss.
Older people spend a lot more on doctors than younger people. Should they be stopped from spending their money on staying healthy? If you spend your money on health care, does that subtract from the medical care of a young Mexican immigrant?
The Obama belief is that it does. But that's not the reality of medical science since the 1860s.
Lewis brilliantly points out that public sanitation - the simple fix of separating our food and water supply from our bodily wastes - first begun in the 1860's has doubled the life span of Americans. In reality, all those miles of pipes and water treatment actually benefits the economy by making people happier, healthier, and much more productive.
But Obama and the Democrats look at those pipes and other sanitation infrastructure as a cost - not a benefit. And that's the difference between rationing health care and looking for ways to expand the pie to benefit everyone.
Read the entire brilliant piece - one of James' best.