Friday, August 14, 2009

Wrong...and Wrong again

Art Laffer had this gem to say (last week, I'm running a bit late) about the health care controversy.
If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they’re run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government.
I'm actually too incredulous to laugh.

First off, who does he think Medicare and Medicaid are run by now? And the VA - these are all "done by" the government.

Second, the Postal Service is not run by the government. The Postal service is a quasi-governmental entity (it was spun off in 1970 by Nixon), as is the IRS. They are run as for-profit entitles. It remains a creature of the federal government, but it's been decades since it used tax dollars for its operations, and we have one of the most efficient, cheap, and reliable mail systems in the world.

Finally, I wonder what percentage of Republicans simply don't know that Medicare and Medicaid (and the VA) are government health care. Medicare is federal, Medicaid is state. It's socialized health care, as per their definition. I don't see anyone running about demanding that they be dismantled and replaced by private systems.

Hell, people in general don't seem to get this. I shouldn't single out Repubs (although they do seem to be less informed and more proudly ignorant than the Dems I know) -- how many people simply don't understand how those programs work?

They just feel "in their guts" that if a program seems to be working poorly, or is onerous, or causes issues, or does something they disagree with, that it must be a government program, because "government can't do anything right" and if something is working well, it must be a private entity, because only privately held corporations can make money and be successful.

They are wrong.

The ideologues think the Postal Service is a government department because it is huge, needs more money all the time, and is an effective monopoly. They think that Medicare and Medicaid, because they are efficient and timely, must be run by the insurance companies. Nope.

I'm not trying to say that all government programs are effective, efficient, and workable - that's obviously not true. Nor am I saying that all private efforts are horrible wastes and driven by corporate greed.

However, this oblivious ignorance of the existing health care options that are run by the government, and the insistence on scare tactics that try to convince people that they are going to get "dmv-style" service, or have "death panels" is ridiculous and should be a clear red flag that some of these people have no idea what they are talking about.

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