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This started as a response to Kitsap River's excellent diary, but as usual when commenting on someone else's diary, I developed diarrhea of the word processor. Since my Kaiser plan doesn't cover that, I brought it here.

One of the best arguments I can think of in favor or single-payer UHC is the one the right-wing free-marketeers drag out all the time:  No business entity is, itself, entitled to exist or to be profitable in the first place. The "hand of the market" determines which businesses survive and which fail.

Sounds great to the laissez-faire crowd, when Wal-Mart swoops into a town and wipes out half the other businesses. But apply the same allegedly axiomatic principle to for-profit health care insurance corporations, and watch their heads explode.

Say a government-run single-payer system effectively "enters the marketplace" by popular decree. Isn't that, too, the "hand of the market" at work? Big HMO failed to supply that which the market (the consuming public) demanded - affordable, high quality, easily accessed healthcare delivery. It's not like they didn't have a chance to supply it, or decades to figure out how. It's that they chose not to, because profit rules all. And now that decision making is coming home to roost. Having exhausted their options with existing suppliers of healthcare, the market (us) is finally turning to the government to make it work.

I'd say it's fair to characterize this shift in public sentiment as the last, desperate resort of a market pent-up with demand, which the existing private suppliers were simply unwilling to satisfy on the market's terms.

In all other circumstances, where existing suppliers who fail to keep up with demand while remaining profitable are shoved out of business by those who do, this is regarded as normal and natural, exactly as predicted by the wannabe Adam Smiths among us.

But not this time - oh, heavens no! What about the corporations? Don't they get a seat at the table in this? They won't be able to compete! That's not fair!


No private business, no collection of businesses, and no industry has any inherent, inalienable, God-given right to be profitable, or even to exist in the first place. What they have is a right to TRY. If the market needs what they are supplying, at the price they are offering, they will succeed. If not, they will go under. And according to the free market GOPers, that's the way of the world, just as it should be.

I hope to be able to look back at the end of a first Obama term, look a winger straight in the eye and say...

"The free market has spoken. Sorry about your Pacificare shares. Told you to invest in the green energy sector."

Originally posted to electric meatball on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 11:23 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  alms for the poor (3+ / 0-)

    "I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm." --Marcus Aurelius

    by electric meatball on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 11:27:06 PM PDT

    •  But they don't believe what they say. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      electric meatball

      You are very right. Government should be given the opportunity to compete with private industry. Edwards proposed this in his health care plan. Let me point out two examples to help your argument.

      First Example:

      I have discussed this issue at length with someone who has dealt with government competition in supposedly 'private' industries. Specifically, the person works for a government entity with its own dredging equipment. That government entity sometimes bid on Army Corps contracts.

      The private companies are more expensive and less efficient. They also drop government contracts for more profitable work, leaving the Army Corps or ports authorities hanging. Yet, when the government entity bids on an Army Corps project, the private companies object, saying ""well you are cheap because the taxpayers and our corporate taxes subsidize you.""

      Of course, when you look at the accounting, it turns out that private companies are making a profit...which is also paid for by the taxpayer, when private companies do government contracting.

      Bottom line:

      They want it both ways, because they don't truely believe in the free market. They claim government is too inefficient to compete in the free market, yet at the same time claim the government is too efficient, because it doesn't make a profit.


      Second example:

      I will get shit for this one.

      Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have an implicit government guarantee. They are also regulated by OFHEO, a US government entity, FAR more extensively than any other public corporation under SOX. In effect, these are both public, for profit entities AND government guaranteed companies that are required to provide a huge host of services to make housing more affordable. They have effectively 'entered the marketplace' to compete with the pure-profit wall-street firms.

      Perhaps this is a model to look at for health care?

      Now before people start bloviating over evil Freddie and Fannie let me share a couple things.

      First: yes, they both screwed up MAJORLY a few years ago. Much has changed.

      Second: They don't need the bailout proposed by congress. Go and read Freddie Mac's earnings report. This quarter just came out. If you model their write-downs using a worst-case (great depression) model, you will find that Freddie is capitalized to survive another great depression. Why, then is congress and wall-street pushing this?

      Why, buybacks, of course. Fannie and Freddie have to maintain the value of their portfolios, so they buy back chunks of the mortgage-backed securities that they created to maintain the value of the rest. Hmmm. So, if I were a large investment firm holding mortgaged backed securities, and the government 'bails out' Freddie and Fannie, I can dump some of those securities on Freddie and Fannie, and not have to deal with a paper loss on the rest!

      Anyway, you might want to take a look at the Freddie/Fannie model to apply to health care. Also, given that Freddie and Fannie do compete in some market segments, they force each other to be efficient.

      How about that? A universal health care model that also has internal competition.

      Anyway, I know there are a lot of problems with the above model, and at 3 AM, I don't think well, so feel free to dismiss this entirely.

      Comments Signature: This will get attached to your comments.

      by Gravedugger on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 12:16:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  learn more all about it at my signature line (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      electric meatball

      Peace & Health

  •  Surely you jest (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sxwarren, drksdeofthemoonx

    I favor a national health plan a "Medicare for all" type of program (although we need to fix a lot in Medicare) but with a private pay option like they have in both Canada and England. But to your point having the government enter a market and become the sole supplier of anything can hardly be called the "hand of the market". This is nonsense.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 12:17:16 AM PDT

    •  So, what IS 'the market' then? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      electric meatball

      One would think that "the market" is mainly the consumers of goods and services.  In the US, those consumers are also, ostensibly, owners of the government.  If they are dissatisfied with the performance of the existing providers of a service and elect to create a provider of their own through the government, wouldn't that be the "hand of the market"?

      Some folks prefer a map and finding their own route. Others need someone to tell them where to go.

      by sxwarren on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 04:58:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NO! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It is certainly acceptable public policy to have the public, unhappy with the healthcare system, to decide to have a national single payer plan, but it is not the "hand of the market", but rather the will of the electorate.  However, if the government had a competing plan, that did not restrict private competition, and eventually took the lion's share of the market (like the Edwards program) you might be able to make a case.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 07:49:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  in every meaningful sense, YES. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That is my point exactly.  The market is not an abstraction. It is comprised of the people who live it in it. In this country, that would be the same people who are the sovereign owners of the government.

        "I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm." --Marcus Aurelius

        by electric meatball on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 09:57:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The government is an actor in the market, too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sxwarren, electric meatball

    Conservatives and Libertarians like to pretend this isn't true.  Except when it comes time for government contracts to get doled out.

    •  Or when greedy idiots screw up and need (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      electric meatball

      to be bailed out.  Or when they need a road to be paved or a waterway channel to be dredged or some inner-city land to be seized through eminent domain so that they can more cheaply get goods to the consumer.

      Government, whether by divine right or by the will of the people, has always been a part of the marketplace.

      Some folks prefer a map and finding their own route. Others need someone to tell them where to go.

      by sxwarren on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 05:04:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Edwards plan was the best (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    electric meatball

    I hope Obama incorporate Edwards health care plan. His plan had the public plan competing with the health insurance industry. If the republicans' viewpoint is right, the insurance industry should prevail over the public plan. However, that would not happen because the industry has anywhere from a 18-30% admin cost and is for profit. There is no way it could compete witha  non profit with 3% admin cost which Medicare has now. I'm guessing the majority of the people would go for the public plan thus weakening the for profit health care.

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