This post by Donald Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek highlights an issue that has always intrigued and puzzled me. Why are some people so distrustful of businesses that operate for profit and trustful of politicians and bureaucrats who operate with a political motive?
Some of the people I’m talking about will claim to distrust government in the abstract but on specific matters it is easy to see that it is not really the case. The letter to the editor that Professor Boudreaux is reacting to is here.
The writer is obviously well versed in crafting good prose and telling a story. The opening sentence is, “I’m scheduled to begin dying on February 1, 2010.” The newspaper that printed his letter, The St. Petersburg Times, gave it the heading, “Matter Of Life, Death.” You expect to read about a man who has been given only weeks to live.
But as you read on you discover that this letter written by a man with a gift for getting your attention is not talking about life and death at all. It’s just about money. Other people’s money, that is. You see, this man has type I diabetes and his health insurance runs out on February 1st next year. After that date he’ll have to start paying for his own insulin, test strips, insulin pump replacements, and other incidentals. After that date he won’t be having those things paid for by others.
The costs are not insignificant. Based upon his description of his condition and his monthly needs for medical devices and drugs he might have annual expenses to treat his condition of $10,000 to $15,000 a year. That is certainly nothing to sneeze at and many people would have a hard time affording it. But it wouldn’t be impossible nor does it cost more than a lot of other things that we pay for without any expectation of getting somebody else to pay it for us.
Since the letter writer is a retired reporter from the Miami Herald and is now a free lance writer, we might assume that he is not broke. We might also assume that he drives a nice car, lives in a nice home, and has a retirement nest egg. Why does he think he is going to die if he can’t get someone else to pay for his diabetic medicine? He no doubt has many things in his life that cost more and he knows he won’t get anyone else to pay for those things.
But health care is different you say. No one should have to pay for their own health care. Huh?
If the letter writer thinks he will be better off with Obamacare, I think he will be in for a nasty surprise. All one need do is look at Medicare to see what the future would hold there. The political motive of bureaucrats is not likely to look upon Mr. Letter writer with all the benevolence that he thinks he deserves. He could take a look at this for a glimpse of what the political motive has accomplished in one place at one time in the past.
At least the profit motive gives a business an incentive to want to please its customers.