With apologies to P.T. Barnum, it is increasingly apparent that the radical pols in the current administration are firmly convinced that an awful lot of the people can be fooled some of the time -- and that time is now.
It certainly defies logic to believe that the government can simultaneously expand insured health care to all (or nearly all) of the population while also improving quality and availability, all at a magically lower cost. Of course they can't. But this simple logic has done nothing to stop Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and company from employing whatever lies, smoke, and mirrors they can muster to advance a nationalized health care program that purports to do just that.
In the face of such plain logic, how can so many believe the promises, and why are the political forces of the far left so intent on "selling" them to the public? Columnist Rich Lowry, writing in The New York Post, refers to a recent insurance industry study demonstrating the increased cost inevitable under the so-called "public option" and explains: The study made Democrats yelp so loudly because it hit on such a sensitive spot. The Democrats must make people believe their inherently unbelievable promise of vast new public benefits for free. Since this defies common sense, the determinedly common-sensical American people don't buy it. A Gallup Poll finds 49 percent of people expect their costs to get worse under ObamaCare, compared with 22 percent who say they will get better. The skeptics are right. As for seniors, the plans for financing broad health care "reform" have been accompanied from the beginning by threats to cut as much as $500 million from Medicare spending, coupled with the fantasy-claim that such savings can be realized through reduction of fraud and waste without cutting services to beneficiaries. That nonsensical notion is handily destroyed by health care expert and former NY State Lieutenant Governor Betsey McCaughey in her article, Treating Seniors as "Clunkers," which runs alongside Lowery's in today's Post. And as economist and columnist Thomas Sowell asks in his syndicated October 27 column,
Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called "experts" deciding who could and could not get life-saving medical treatments?
Scary as that is from a medical standpoint, it is also chilling from the standpoint of freedom. If you have a mother who needs a heart operation or a child with some dire medical condition, how free would you feel to speak out against an administration that has the power to make life and death decisions about your loved ones?
Nevertheless, the radical and semi-radical sections of the empowered Obama administration are pushing full-steam ahead to railroad one form or another of nationalized health care into law, and they are -- or were -- getting quite a bit of backing from a changing mix of special-interest groups (surprise, surprise): unions, who were aboard until their "Cadillac" plans were threatened; doctors of the AMA (a small minority of US physicians), who thought they'd be bought off by better Medicare fee levels; insurance companies, who thought the proposed mandates to buy their products would swell the ranks of their customers; and large pharmaceutical companies, who thought they could buy "protection" for conceding some minor price reductions.
But many of these rats are deserting the proverbial ship as they learn that the promises are hollow, politicians renege, and all that glitters isn't gold.
The dedicated ideologues somehow believe in the pie-in-the-sky promises of socialist theory and refuse to see or admit the horrors -- personal, moral, and fiscal -- of statist medicine as practiced in Britain and Canada. However, one might ask why any ordinary citizen in his right mind would prefer a ruinous overhaul of the world's best medical care to erect a system that raises costs and delivers inferior service at tremendous inconvenience to the populace at large.
The answer may be found by posing the ancient question: cui bono? That is, "who benefits?" A recent article in The Washington Post tells us:
According to the most recent IRS statistics, about 45 million households -- a third of all filers -- owed no federal income tax after taking their credits and deductions in 2006. This year, with the profusion of new credits in the stimulus package, about 65 million households -- or 43 percent of all filers -- are likely to owe no income taxes, according to a new analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.
And this shocking figure (estimates range from 40-43%) -- nearly half the population, who pay no income taxes at all, and in some cases receive federal hand-out payments (euphemistically known as "refundable tax credits") -- is also reported by such credible sources as FactCheck.org, CBSNews, and many others who are not of a particularly conservative or anti-Obama bent.
It takes no great leap of faith to understand that people who don't pay taxes in the first place welcome the prospect of increasing the burden on those who do -- especially if the "taking" classes correctly expect to be the beneficiaries.
So, too, those whose "poverty level" exempts them from taxes correctly see the mediocre care under a nationalized health system as better than the longer waits and ER dependency they now experience, especially if someone else is paying the freight. What the average American may regard as inferior care and service is seen as an improvement by those who live at least partly off government redistribution programs.
This constituency cares not a whit for the increased costs to taxpayers and future generations of taxpayers; they don't pay taxes, so it's not their problem. Nor do they care about the prospect of reduced overall care quality and availability; they see it as an improvement on what they experience now. Most of all, they have no fear of the vastly increased power a socialized medicine program would give the bureaucracy through control of a major portion of the American economy. They see the government as the main source of sustenance and problem-solving in their own lives -- so the bigger, the better.
As our society's voting "have-nots" continue to increase in proportion to the productive "haves" -- even despite the protections, some of which are routinely ignored, in the constitutional limits of our government -- the non-productive classes will inevitably vote themselves an ever-increasing share of the fruit of the productive classes' labor. This precarious situation may devolve, as it has in other societies, into an egalitarian mediocrity or a tyrannical dictatorship...or Atlas may simply shrug.