31 July 2009

The Latest In My Ongoing Critique Of Progressivism

Yesterday I wrote about how progressives' knee-jerk response to world problems--real or perceived--is yet another government plan that will re-order society, reduce individual liberty and centralize power & control with the enlightened ones.

It's not that I think progressives are bad people. God love 'em, they've got great intentions, it's the unintended consequences of their utopian reordering that I'm worried about.

Consider healthcare. Does the United States have problems? I've admitted countless times that it does and in numerous posts, suggested a few things we could do to reduce costs & improve quality. I always remind people that ~90% of Americans have insurance, another 5% choose not to because they are healthy or wealthy, 2.5% are illegal immigrants, & the remaining 2.5% are the 2.5% I think we can help by introducing market reforms--essentially eliminating state & federal distortions of the market.

I think these things would do much of what progressives want to accomplish, only without a hasty, ad hoc reordering of 1/6th of the American economy.

Progressives are prepared to throw out the baby with the bath water, because for them, health care is a moral issue. Cost/benefit doesn't play a role at all. Despite what they may say (and here I remind readers that I'm not lumping all Democrats together, just the far progressive left), the cost or the quality of the care is not the issue.

The only thing they care about is the fairness of it all. Ah, égalité.

So long as everyone has access to care--even if it's just a few vitamins & a glass of water--it doesn't matter that some people die in the queue for a heart transplant or that others don't get hip replacement surgery or needed meds to improve their quality of life--the only thing that matters is that it is equal for everyone.

Of course, it won't be equal for everyone. And this is what history teaches. The rich opt out because they can afford it. The well connected in government opt out because they're owed favors. Everyone else suffers. So it went in the former USSR. And China. Continues for the Castros & their revolutionary cronies in Cuba. Ditto North Korea. Even in the social democracies of Europe--the elites (including socialist & other miscellaneous left-leaning members of parliament) always opt out.

Even in the European countries where you think socialized medicine in all its incarnations is a such a screaming success, it's not. They are dealing with mounting costs which result in higher taxes, more rationing, & poorer overall care.

Additionally, the only reason they are as good as they are is because as in so many other things, they are able to free ride on American drug development and other medical technology improvements. Because of the high prices Americans elect to pay, pharmaceutical & other medical technology companies respond with new and better drugs and medical devices.

Everyone else, everywhere else in the world benefits as a result.

As I said at the outset, social justice (whatever that means) is the morality of this century's progressives. Those who question their crusade for justice & equality--deniers!--will be subject to ad hominem attacks for not submitting to the latest dogmatic demand. Obviously, the degree to which one embraces the social justice cause du jour is a sign of how good of a person she or he happens to be (thus, the unfunny Goode Family).

How socially unrighteous of us deniers. As penance for our skeptical reception of the latest progressive nostrum, I suggest buying a few carbon offsets & repeating aloud Obama's 2004 Democratic convention speech 10 times.

But, of course, progressivism as religion is another post for another day.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.