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  1. #1
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    Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    http://amateureconblog.blogspot.com/...rd-health.html

    Don Boudreaux asks this question. As usual, he offers up some clear points that just make common sense. He not saying that people don't have to make decisions about what they can or can not afford. But he is saying that the situation is not quite as it is often described.

    When people say that half the country doesn't doesn't have health care, they really mean (whether they realize it or not) that not everyone has unlimited access to unlimited amounts of top quality health care. But then we're back to the scarcity and pricing issue again.


    Half the Country Can't Afford Health Care??
    Don Boudreaux
    "I was prompted to ponder the importance of the margin when I read Thomas Friedman’s Thanksgiving Day column in the New York Times. I plead guilty to being unusually sensitive to muddled claims such as this by Friedman: 'half the country can't afford health care.'

    This statement sounds sensible – that is, it sounds as if it makes a meaningful claim – a claim that might be correct or incorrect, but nevertheless meaningful. But it’s meaningless. It’s muddled from top to bottom, from beginning to end, through and through, and irredeemably. It’s so muddled that it is as empty of meaning as a stone is empty of passion.

    Friedman asserts (as if it’s a fact obvious to all) that 'half the country can’t afford health care.' First ask: Can half of the people in the U.S. afford items such as Band-Aids, hydrogen peroxide, aspirin, daily vitamins, NyQuil, Tinactin, Preparation-H, condoms, and toothpaste? Sure thing. These products are health-care products."

  2. #2
    Moderator JakeBrake's Avatar
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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    If everyone lived a healthy life-style, would half the country need health care? [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  3. #3
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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Not a bad point at all Jake! :-)

    There is less incentive to take care of one's self when you know that others will bear the burdens of the outcome. A classic moral hazard problem.

    Chris

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    Moderator JakeBrake's Avatar
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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Idealistic of course, but then if there was less demand for treatment, I suspect the cost for any treatment would be higher. (rather simplistic of me to say that of course [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] )

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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Originally posted by cmeisenzahl:

    First ask: Can half of the people in the U.S. afford items such as Band-Aids, hydrogen peroxide, aspirin, daily vitamins, NyQuil, Tinactin, Preparation-H, condoms, and toothpaste? Sure thing. These products are health-care products."
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">That sounds disturbingly like “let them eat cake.”

    This “scarcity and pricing issue again” is not set in stone. One can change parameters such that a new equilibrium is achieved. In this case, the achieved outcome would be more people with health care coverage. Alas, can you convince me that this is not the much overused argument: “There are some that get, and some that don’t get, and I got mine so buzz off.”

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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Originally posted by q-pul:
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Originally posted by cmeisenzahl:

    First ask: Can half of the people in the U.S. afford items such as Band-Aids, hydrogen peroxide, aspirin, daily vitamins, NyQuil, Tinactin, Preparation-H, condoms, and toothpaste? Sure thing. These products are health-care products."
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">That sounds disturbingly like “let them eat cake.”

    This “scarcity and pricing issue again” is not set in stone. One can change parameters such that a new equilibrium is achieved. In this case, the achieved outcome would be more people with health care coverage. Alas, can you convince me that this is not the much overused argument: “There are some that get, and some that don’t get, and I got mine so buzz off.”
    </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Well, good questions and comments. I think it comes down to the basic misunderstanding of (or misinformation from) the original author and his claim. Like most things, health care is not an all or nothing propositions, decisions are made at the margins.

    Also, I believe it gets to the morality of forcing one person to provide for another. I do not see a moral case for coercively forcing one person to provide for another. Note that I am not saying that people should not be helped, far from it in fact. I am a strong believer in private charity. But I think it's immoral for people to be forced coercively to pay for another. Most people would glady (and do) assist others through charity.

    That was the moral argument, there are myriad economic reasons why socialized health-care is inefficient.

    Chris

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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    As usual we will agree more than we will disagree, but the disagreements will be more memorable. Discussion clears up a lot of misunderstanding, perhaps this will help.

    Your last few posts reflect a common theme that “market forces” are set in stone. Companies like Enron, that food products supplier et.al., are examples that the market can be manipulated for advantage or disadvantage. Companies can “unfairly” collaborate to set a less than market wage and a higher than market price. They can convince politicians to write laws that discriminate against low cost providers. To then describe these manipulations as “market forces” is misleading. True capitalism and true market forces would have laws against this activity (Teddy Roosevelt is a hero.) Then again, the markets can be manipulated to provide more for all but that means there would be fewer billionaires and an expanded the middle class. There is an economic game theory conclusion that if we all agree and take less, there will be more for all to take.

    That you can walk into Wal-Mart and buy a $3 pair of shoes is an advantage to you, but a disadvantage to another if a sweat shop is used. My point… “morality of forcing one person to provide for another” is the same as forcing one person to work in a sweat shop so another can walk in comfort.

    Companies (people) can create wealth or extract wealth. Extracting wealth by charging “unfair” prices or paying “unfair” wages is the easy low route. Innovating and improving market efficiencies creates wealth (the high road), it is harder but all will be lifted on the rising tide.

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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Comments below.


    Originally posted by q-pul:
    As usual we will agree more than we will disagree, but the disagreements will be more memorable. Discussion clears up a lot of misunderstanding, perhaps this will help.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Agreed! :-)


    Originally posted by q-pul:

    Your last few posts reflect a common theme that “market forces” are set in stone. Companies like Enron, that food products supplier et.al., are examples that the market can be manipulated for advantage or disadvantage. Companies can “unfairly” collaborate to set a less than market wage and a higher than market price. They can convince politicians to write laws that discriminate against low cost providers. To then describe these manipulations as “market forces” is misleading. True capitalism and true market forces would have laws against this activity (Teddy Roosevelt is a hero.) Then again, the markets can be manipulated to provide more for all but that means there would be fewer billionaires and an expanded the middle class. There is an economic game theory conclusion that if we all agree and take less, there will be more for all to take.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">We could get pretty deep into this one. There is no question that firms, like very other actor in the market, will act in their own best interest. The market can only be manipulated as you described I think when there is a monopoly or with govt. intervention as you suggested. I am whole-heartedly against pretty much every bit of intervention in the market.

    Gov't intervention is most definitely not "market forces" by my understanding.

    I would add that while different firms have different levels of control over their industries, the only true monpolies exist by govt. fiat.


    My understanding of the Enron debacle was that part of the problem was that California interferede by legislating a price ceiling on electricity, screwing up the market and destroying supply instead of helping it. The criminal acts of the officers are another matter.

    Originally posted by q-pul:

    Then again, the markets can be manipulated to provide more for all but that means there would be fewer billionaires and an expanded the middle class. There is an economic game theory conclusion that if we all agree and take less, there will be more for all to take.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">I'm not sure I follow here. I can't think of a scenario in which govt. intervention is better than none. If there are any, I believe them to be very few.


    Originally posted by q-pul:

    That you can walk into Wal-Mart and buy a $3 pair of shoes is an advantage to you, but a disadvantage to another if a sweat shop is used. My point… “morality of forcing one person to provide for another” is the same as forcing one person to work in a sweat shop so another can walk in comfort.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">It's an advantage to all consumers of the shoes, the manufacturers of the shoes, and the employees making the shoes. It's only a disadvantage to those making shoes elsewhere relatively inefficiently at a higher cost.


    Originally posted by q-pul:

    My point… “morality of forcing one person to provide for another” is the same as forcing one person to work in a sweat shop so another can walk in comfort.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">It's very important that we differentiate here. Private property rights are an sbsolute necessity to a free market and free people. If someone is being forced to work in a sweatshop as you mention above (e.g. under threat of violence, threats against family, slavery, etc.) then that is clearly unacceptable and violation of freedoms and personal property rights.

    If you are talking about a person freely deciding to work in a so-called sweatshop, that's another thing altogether.
    If a person is free and has the option of hunger/starvation, working on a family farm, or working in a local so called sweatshop, and he decides the latter, how has he been harmed? It's nonsensical to think he would take the job if he didn't think it was better than his other options.

  9. #9
    Moderator Joe Strazzere's Avatar
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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Originally posted by cmeisenzahl:
    Also, I believe it gets to the morality of forcing one person to provide for another. I do not see a moral case for coercively forcing one person to provide for another. Note that I am not saying that people should not be helped, far from it in fact. I am a strong believer in private charity. But I think it's immoral for people to be forced coercively to pay for another.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Do you think it's immoral only in the context of healthcare? Or is this a generalized concept?

    For example, is it immoral to force me to pay for public education?

    Is it immoral to force me to pay the costs of a war I may not believe in?

    It it immoral to force me to pay for the upkeep of a road I never use?

    I'm just trying to understand the context of this immorality.
    Joe Strazzere
    Visit my website: AllThingsQuality.com to learn more about quality, testing, and QA!

  10. #10
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    Re: Can Half The Country Not Afford Health Care? ...

    Originally posted by Joe Strazzere:
    Do you think it's immoral only in the context of healthcare? Or is this a generalized concept?

    For example, is it immoral to force me to pay for public education?

    Is it immoral to force me to pay the costs of a war I may not believe in?

    It it immoral to force me to pay for the upkeep of a road I never use?

    I'm just trying to understand the context of this immorality.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">Great questions Joe.


    >> Do you think it's immoral only in the context of healthcare? Or is this a generalized concept?

    That's part of my point. Health care is another good to be consumed. I don't make any differentiation between healtch care and other goods/services for consumption


    >> For example, is it immoral to force me to pay for public education?

    I think it's immoral and unfair for all but a very few specific examples. One of them being national defense.

    Why should I have to pay for my neighbor's kid's education? Why not his sneakers? Vacations? Bikes?

    >> Is it immoral to force me to pay the costs of a war I may not believe in?

    Very staunch libertarians may think so. But I think that national defense is one of the few valid roles for the federal government.

    >> It it immoral to force me to pay for the upkeep of a road I never use?

    Great question! In a perfect world, I would like to see roads privatized. I hold out little realistic hope. ;-)

 

 
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