The benefits of health care reform

“I would put my plan forward and I would welcome input, and I would say here are my goals: reduce costs, increase quality, coverage for everybody.

-Barack Obama (CNN Democratic Debate, January 2008)

“Reduce costs, increase quality, coverage for everybody.”  Sounds good to me.  Sign me up.

Any time a politician touts the benefits of anything without acknowledging some of the costs, which is most of the time, or all of the costs, which is all of the time, one should raise an eyebrow.

Everything has a benefit.  It just so happens that everything with a benefit also comes with a cost.  The all-too-easy trick is to hide the cost, disperse the cost, or shift it to another party with a lesser voice or perhaps no voting rights.

I am quite certain that General Motors could produce a car that would get 100 mpg.  There would be great benefits to the mass production of such a car.  We could probably significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  Why don’t they do it?  Any such car would probably have to be so light as it would almost assuredly be lethal in a crash.  That is a hefty cost (not to mention it would conflict with the objectives of another government bureaucracy, the NTSB).

If al Qaeda detonated a bomb in downtown Manhattan, there would be a plethora of benefits.  There would be a couple million people no longer driving cars that emit CO2 so there would be an environmental benefit.  Some of the jobs of the deceased would most likely have to be filled.  This would be a boon to those who are currently unemployed.  Of course the construction industry and hospital industries would benefit as well.

People say, “That is a ludicrous example.”  It is not a ludicrous example.  It is the exact same principle.   Everything comes with a benefit.  The question is – what’s the cost.  And I am not just talking about the ‘visible’ costs of ‘taxes on the rich’ or on ‘Cadillac plans’ (except the Unions plans of course).  How about the less visible but even more important costs of people modifying their behaviors based upon new cost structures and a new set of rules imposed upon them.

So what are some of the costs of the proposed healthcare legislation and Obama’s aggressive grow-government-and-spend domestic agenda?

Here’s one:

Obama confidently proclaimed that if the stimulus bill were not passed, unemployment could reach 9%.  If it were passed, it would not surpass 8%.  It now stands at 10% with no end in sight.  Could it be that businesses are acting rationally by looking to the future and finding business-unfriendly policies and anti-business rhetoric and finding it not all that appealing to risk further capital and invest in hiring more people?