This – that is, what we are about to suggest after a little self-indulgent blather – is an old idea of ours. Very old. But occasions for revisiting it keep arising through no fault of ours. Just the nature of things.
At one point we pointed out on this blog (albeit in a much different context) that while the United States has a long tradition of individualism and libertarianism, it also has a counter-tradition – that is, of more recent vintage yet old and entrenched enough to have also earned the appellation “tradition” – that the federal government should use its power of commandeering resources to do great things both domestically and internationally, and speaking domestically first and foremost of these is to insure the health of its citizens:
There are sharply differing views on the nature and role of government. Some believe that the government is a positive force for good, that it provides safety and security – and some think even material prosperity – to its citizens. There are others who are deeply skeptical of government and regard it as a danger to freedom and balk at the notion that it can provide prosperity, indeed believing that government by and large impoverishes its citizens. And there are many nuanced positions in between.
The older American tradition is firmly in the latter camp. But like many traditions, it has been eroded over time. Whereas previously one might have argued that the government favorable view was “un-American”, that’s a difficult case to make now. The government favorable position has itself established a claim to tradition in American political discourse.
We don’t agree with the counter-tradition around here, but we acknowledge political reality when we see it. Since FDR at least, federal government involvement in “health care” has been a given, and its dominance of the field has been, well, inevitable.
So a long time ago we figured that since the federal government was inevitably going to dominate the health care field, it might as well get into health care directly – that is, build and operate hospitals, clinics, “urgent care” facilities and so on; hire doctors, nurses, orderlies and so on, and people who can’t afford their own health care can use federal facilities for free.
Then all the other “programs” – medicare, medicaid, Obamacare, etc. – can be abolished. They’re all unsustainable anyway, so why not?
Don’t agree with that last part? Don’t be silly. It’s arithmetic. The federal government is spending about $1 trillion on “heath care” every year. It is doing so in a mish-mash, haphazard, infinitely complex fashion where it mixes together with state and local governments, private insurers, private medical service providers themselves and who knows what else in a never ending upward spiral of increasing costs, increasing involvement, increasing meddling. It’s the worst case scenario for federal government involvement in anything.
By contrast, directly doing a large project on a huge scale in a very standardized way is what the federal government actually does fairly well, as when it conducts full scale war, putting millions in “uniform” (and that word applies for a reason), spitting out copy after copy of aircraft, tanks, ships, ammunition, K-rations and whatnot.
Put another way, it might cost Uncle Sam $ 1 billion to build one hospital but he can build 100 for $20 billion and 200 for $25 billion, which is not even intended to be accurate, just painting with a very broad brush to give you the idea. Very illustration. Way succinct.
And as the new structures and systems come online you phase out medicaid, medicare, etc. What’s not to like?
And we should think this idea would have special appeal to President Trump, who let’s face it likes to solve problems by building things – like walls. And then putting his name on them.
Anyhow. We don’t see any other solution to this particular problem. And it’s about time the federal government undertook some big project where it builds a bunch of stuff. Other than that wall thing. And unlike that wall thing, this might actually work.
It’s just our opinion of course.