Quote Of The Day

“Two major arguments are offered for introducing socialized medicine in the United States: first, that medical costs are beyond the means of most Americans; second, that socialization will somehow reduce costs. The second can be dismissed out of hand — at least until someone can find some example of an activity that is conducted more economically by government than by private enterprise. As to the first, the people of the country must pay their costs one way or another; the only question is whether they pay them directly on their own behalf, or indirectly through the mediation of government bureaucrats who will subtract a substantial slice for their own salaries and expenses.” —Milton Friedman

11 Responses to “Quote Of The Day”

  1. True_Liberal says:

    Much as I admire Friedman, O’Rourke is more succinct:
    http://hispanicpundit.com/2007/01/06/quote-of-the-day-408/

  2. H says:

    There are some odd features of ‘socialized medicine’ which Friedman doesn’t address:

    1. The prevention angle. It is possible that socialized medicine will do more for prevention. As it stands, all doctors are basically small businessmen and their interests are in finding ‘well paying’ and ‘willing’ clients. An emergency is a good way to convert the average joe into a guy willing to fork over his life’s savings. Why would any doctor spend their career in preventive medicine? The money is in heart attack victims.

    2. The legal angle. Doctors can be sued. The government can give itself indemnity. Look at medical costs in Thailand. The difference between Thailand and here goes to lawyers and the doctor’s union (AMA).

    3. The drug angle. Socialized medicine can legalize opiate addiction via the process used by England and Canada (doctors can prescribe to addicts). Since opiates are basically poison, the ‘businessman doctor’ will never be able to prescribe opiates for the addict due to #1 and #2 above.

  3. I agree, but there are also other more pressing problems of socialized healthcare, one being that you fix the above, but you also remove the incentive to create more efficient technologies and medicine – therefore in the long run, harming healthcare not improving it.

    Is it a coincidence that the United States is both the country with the least amount of socialized healthcare and highest amount of new medical inventions both in technology and in pharmaceutical? I don’t think so. I think the two go hand in hand.

  4. Fernando says:

    “Why would any doctor spend their career in preventive medicine?”

    Cause they care and they “doctors” will always have patients. (You can’t change the laws of supply, and demand on that one.)

    My doctor is big on preventive medicine, and his practice has not suffered due to his practices.

    As for the money being in heart, etc, etc, etc,
    Have you even noticed what those doctors pay in mal-practice insurance???????

    By the way; My Urologist just retired, and he is the HEAD of the FDA’s Urology Section.

  5. H says:

    I think the term ‘socialized medicine’ is simply too vague. A libertarian might complain that we already have socialized medicine since every drug is sold via one form of price controls or another.

  6. Correct, but no matter what your definition, it is safe to say we atleast have less socialized medicine than other countries – especially regarding price controls. So my point above still stands.

  7. H says:

    HP,

    I see your point. There are many forms of incentive, though. One is financial reward. Another is social prestige. A third is self-esteem. The list goes on and on. In the case of health care, everyone has an incentive to maintain their own health. Obviously, this isn’t a particularly strong incentive for many.

    In the larger context, ‘socialized medicine’ is a pejorative term for the political slogan ‘universal health care’. Like ‘social security’, ‘universal health care’ is a weapon to use during elections. It might be more productive to attack ‘universal health care’. ‘Socialized medicine’ is something of a straw man.

  8. H,

    I agree that there are many forms of incentives but when you produce via the government you remove two powerful incentives (so powerful, economies are built on them)- competition and the profit motive. Other incentives like social prestige, self-esteem, personal joy and so forth are there whether you use the government or the free market, so they in effect cancel each other out when comparing the two. However, when you choose the government method you have two less forms of incentives than you had with the free market – competition and the profit margin.

    I have no problem with ‘universal health care’, in fact, I have advocated for it in the past, see here, my problem is with government run healthcare, or, as some like to call it, ‘socialized healthcare’.

  9. H says:

    HP,

    Ok. I took a look around the site and can see what you mean. ‘Socialized healthcare’ and ‘government run healthcare’ are essentially the same term. Universal healthcare might mean ‘socialized medicine’ and it might me ‘government issued vouchers’.

    I hadn’t given much thought to the healthcare voucher systems. I don’t see school voucher systems gaining momentum, but maybe I haven’t looked around enough. Maybe the idea has a political future.

  10. Fernando says:

    I think that we have ALL seen the affects of socialized medicine with the Late Popes care.

    That the level of competition being removed and the lack of over sight “meaning gigantic bureaucracies” where no one is held to account.

    That’s what really scares the ahem out of me about universal health care, in that what do we as a society have to give up in order to get it? No more checks and balances.

    The Popes care was a perfect example of what happens when you remove the checks, and he was the pope.

    The best medicine that Europe’s’ System had to offer? (No Thank You)

    Remember people, we still have people from canada coming here for some of their health care.

  11. urbanleftbehind says:

    H-

    You bring up a good point in regards to the difference in cost between a doctor in Thailand and a doctor in the U.S.. I think that rather than universal government run health care coverage, there should not be any employer provided insurance whatsover, given its preferential tax treatment. Employers should pay the cash equivalent of such coverages instead directly to their employees. The tax sheltering of employer provided benefits have led indirectly to the inflation of health care costs. The doctor in Thailand is pricing himself not equivalent to a insurer’s price determination, but to what the expanded marketplace values his care at, meaning the doctor competes not only against other health care providers but also other consumer goods and investments as well. Hence why there is cheap preventative and routine procedure care in the developed part of the third world (Little Tiger Asia, Latin America, eastern Europe).

    But one point in favor of Euro/Canada care – the sheer difficulty in navigating successful treatment with long lines, waiting lists, and limited availability of prescriptions probably induces most people to avoid the “system” at all costs. This induces people to better take care of themselves and their environment.

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