Milton Friedman's prescient "The Economics of Medical Care" — AKA "Socialized Medicine for Dummies" — delivered to a Mayo Clinic audience in 1978, is going viral on YouTube and Twitter. A few excerpts below, and then listen to the whole thing for yourself. Beyond the wisdom and common sense of his words, his soothingly straightforward, low-key performance is a refreshing antidote to the ubiquitous POTUSs much-ballyhooed "soaring rhetoric" and frenetic use of pumping and pointing hand gestures. Obama's teleprompter was unavailable for comment.
"I believe that this trend [towards increasing government involvement in medical care], including many of the steps that have already been taken, is very much against the interests of patients, of physicians and of other health care personnel," Milton Friedman warned a Mayo Clinic audience thirty years ago. We know in our gut that socialized medicine won't work in our interests because the incentives are perversely turned upside down when government, not the patient, is client. Friedman explains:
In industry after industry, producers who protest strongly their belief in free markets have fostered and helped produce government takeover, government regulation, government control … Businessmen, leaders in various areas who are very foresighted when it comes to … the concerns within their own enterprises are very shortsighted when it comes to the area of public policy and allow themselves to be led by small advantages to foster and favor policies which ultimately redound very much to their disadvantage.In the medical case, the initial inducement is that here is a new source of money, and presumably this is why organized medicine has been schizophrenic about the trend toward government involvement …When the government is taking over any activity, there IS more money available, but what typically happens once the government has taken it over, the situation changes. There are no more votes to be gotten by taking it over some more …
In addition to the fact that the ultimate result of a government takeover is less resources, you invariably get lower quality and a lower quantity of medical care.
Unnerved by polls suggesting most Americans are happy with their medical coverage and disapprove his handling of the issue — not to mention a CBO report that his budget is on an unsustainable path, — President Obama turned up the volume in promoting Obamacare, misdirecting careless listeners with his ominous assertion that "the need for reform is urgent, and it is irrefutable." Urgency and irrefutability all depend upon what you mean by "reform." The urgency is in his mind, where time is of the essence if he is to ram through misrepresented policies before his approval ratings go further south when the citizenry wakes up to their implications. As for irrefutablity, former Economic Policy Advisor to President GW Bush Keith Hennessey — who has a must-read market-based plan of his own, complete with do's and don'ts — bursts that balloon:
It is unfair to characterize those who oppose the current legislation as opposing all health care reform, or as defenders of the status quo.
Echoing Friedman's early-warning speech, the Mayo Clinic itself "calls health plan bad medicine," the Washington Times reported yesterday:
The Mayo Clinic said there are some positive elements of the bill, but overall "the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher quality, more affordable health care for patients."
"In fact, it will do the opposite," clinic officials said, because the proposals aren't patient-focused or results-oriented. "The real losers will be the citizens of the United States."
That's the problem with good intentions based upon a refusal to take human nature and the processes common to all economic systems — competition, cooperation, adaptation and feedback — into account: "It will do the opposite."
Update: "Still relevant," says Bird Dog with a link.