22 March 2010

The Beginning Of America's Decline?

Depressing that this post comes after the one about America's comeback. But as Mark Steyn put it, it's tough to be optimistic:
Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada, and elsewhere.

More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the U.S. is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .
Congratulations, progressives. You've just made the citizens of the country started with a Declaration of Independence permanent wards of the state. This is what you wanted--to begin to manage and organize and run people's lives--and you got it.

The post-WWII decline of Great Britain wasn't inevitable. It was hurried along its way by their "governmentalized" health care. And all of the things that everyone now predicts for the US are already reality in the UK: long wait times, fewer doctors, ever-expanding debt & cost, drop in quality, bureaucracy between the patient and the doctor, and on and on.

As my econ-minded friends like to point out, there are always trade-offs. Don't assume that this, the most massive entitlement in American history, will come without cost. By the time the full reality of this thing hits, it's going to hurt everybody.

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