A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

healthcare, smart car photo

I’ve been waiting a long time to use that Emerson quote in one of my articles. Alas, it looks like I’ve finally found my chance.

In case you think your eyes are deceiving you, let me assure you they are not. That is a jacked up smart car. In the midst of an economic depression, imminent inflation, more government spending and excess than ever in history, a so-called healthcare crisis, and a weakening U.S. dollar, it’s good to know that our society can still come up with something like the creation above. And we’re going to talk about that more in a little while.

For now, let me ask you this: are there any issues more banal and worn out than healthcare reform and Bernie Madoff? There probably are, but I can’t think them off the top of my head. Well, there is Michael Jackson. Can’t he just be dead now? What’s the hold up?

In any case, you should probably know that I wouldn’t lose a minute of sleep if I never heard the words “Bernie” and “Madoff” in the same sentence on CNBC again. The same goes for “healthcare” and “reform.” But since that’s not going to happen, and since these two topics are bringing me dangerously close to the brink marking the boundary between sanity and abject lunacy, I’ve actually canceled my cable subscription. Yes, it’s true: I have decided to rely exclusively on the internet for information that I can custom-tailor to never mention healthcare reform or Bernie Madoff. Ever.

Having made my confession, however – and Bernie Madoff aside — I nonetheless feel as though I would be remiss if I didn’t at least make a small effort to put forth my own solution to the healthcare “crisis” before I permanently eradicate it from my daily media diet. I doubt anyone is going to listen to me, but in the end, that doesn’t really matter. Because I do have a solution. And, in fact, it is a very good solution.

If you don’t know it already, I’m going to make this as clear and succinct as possible: I loathe collectivism at all but the most local levels, and I’m not a big fan of it even there. So the idea of having to be identified by anything at the federal or state level, other than my name – like a Social Security number (for instance) – is absolutely abhorrent to me. Likewise, I think huge government programs are wasteful, foolish, and inefficient.

I know, I know. Some of you are frothing at the mouth, positively perfervid with the desire to sink your socialist fangs into my free market hide. All I can say is this: dissent if you like, but history has my back on this one, and I’m probably not going to engage you in some drawn out debate about how wonderful (for instance) Social Security is, and how it’s not going to break our children. Mostly, I’m not going to argue the point because the dollar is going to fail long before Social Security has a chance to break our children, but that doesn’t absolve the program from its complete inefficacy. And as for the dollar — well, I’ll resume my inexhaustible tirade about its impending failure soon enough. Don’t you fret.

I’d like to preface my proposal by pointing out that there are several reasons healthcare is so expensive. First, at every available juncture, the government destroys competition in the industry as much as it can. Second, because so many people fail – or refuse – to obtain health insurance, the losses healthcare providers incur when the uninsured get sick have to be spread out among those who can pay. Third, subsidies and entitlements have inflated healthcare prices astronomically, because when the government gets involved in facilitating transactions, prices go up. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the roles Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in creating easy money for unqualified home buyers. Simply put, the government caused the housing bubble. Similarly, it is largely responsible for ever-increasing tuition costs. And yes, it is a major factor in the skyrocketing costs of healthcare.

I don’t know how things are done in other states, but here in Texas, anyone seeking to renew his or her license plates, or trying to get a new driver license has to show proof of automobile insurance. It’s the way the state makes sure everyone carries at least liability insurance on his or her vehicle, and it mostly works. So my question is this: why couldn’t such a system be applied to the healthcare industry? I’m obviously not a fan of fat bureaucratic programs, but if the government has to get involved, why can it not play the role of forcing consumers to provide proof of health insurance as a prerequisite to buying goods and/or services that might not be considered… well … absolutely necessary.

Here is a short list of expenditures that might require the would-be consumer to procure such proof:

1. Budweiser. In any quantity.

2. Admission to strip clubs.

3. Spinners. (For those of you uninitiated, spinners are those absurd, excessively garish rims that continue to move even when a car is stationary.)

4. Pornography.

5. Body modifications of any sort, including — but not limited to – tattoos, piercings, embedded fingernail art, hair extensions, liposuction, and nose jobs.

6. Southern Comfort.

7. Cable.

8. NFL, NBA, NASCAR, and NHL paraphernalia.

9. Guns.

10. Harleys.

11. Cigarettes.

12. Prostitutes.

13. Crocks.

14. Trunk woofers.

15. Anything made by Nike.

16. Small, pure-bred canines.

17. Jacked-up smart cars.

18. Any article of camouflage clothing.

Of course, there is one other possible solution to this whole mess. We could just sentence Bernie Madoff to reform healthcare. That seems fair.




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Disclosures: Paco is long TBT, UCO, and gold. He also holds U.S. dollars by necessity, pending the advent of private gold-backed currencies.

You can buy his novel Discipline wherever books are sold.

9 Comments so far

  1. g brown on February 7, 2010 7:03 am

    Yeah, I want healthcare reform – not bad jokes. Want a real solution ? Cover every man woman and child in the country through payroll taxes just like Social Security with the exception that all money collected actually be used for health care . The government already pays for 30% of the population. 15% are uninsured and 55% have private health insurance. The insurers claim they subsidize the uninsured through having to pay higher costs ( and charge higher premiums ) so its a no brainer – Just take over up the job from the 8000 odd blood sucking insurance companies. Instead of paying an insurance company employers pay the govt so no extra cost to employers or employees. Since the government doesn't need to make a profit off the misfortunes of others they could save 8% right there . You can't sue the government so rack up a 3-4% savings . About half the employees currently working for the insurers could be incorporated in the government system so expect to save about 50% in administrative costs. With one payer you can negotiate lower prices from the drug and medical equipment companies ( ever wonder why they have bus trips to Canada to buy drugs that are made in the USA ?) There now – wasn't that easy ?

  2. dmchattie on February 7, 2010 1:17 pm

    Why do I need insurance for routine health care items? Insurance should be for protection against catastrophic accidents and illnesses, not my yearly physical.

    I don't have insurance for the oil changes on my car or to put the christmas lights up on my house so why do I need insurance to go in and get a prescription for antibiotics when I get an ear infection?

    I know you'd agree with me on this Paco – I just felt like venting.

  3. Paco Ahlgren on February 7, 2010 2:07 pm

    No. That wasn't easy. You really used Social Security as the foundation for your argument for healthcare? You are aware it's marching toward insolvency?

  4. Morgan on February 8, 2010 1:07 am

    g brown– I'm sorry, but that is the most stupid argument I've ever heard. You want to get rid of insurance companies and let the government handle it?!? Why? Because the government has done such a bang-up job handling everything else? Really?

    Sure, that sounds like a great idea. Get rid of insurance companies–thereby getting rid of competition which helps control prices, and let the government handle everything. Because we “the people” can trust the government to put our best interests first and to be completely honest with us. Oh, and if we find out they aren't doing a good job/ being honest, it'll be soooo easy to change the system.

    I'm sorry for the blatant sarcasm, but I just don't understand how you can believe that's a good idea if you actually think about it for 1 second.

  5. Jim In Virginia on February 8, 2010 7:56 pm

    Over half of all babies in this country are paid for by the government. Almost half of the country pay no income tax at all. Any extension of coverage will be paid for by the folks that work and pay taxes, not the folks that receive largest from the government. If you purchase health insurance, your premium not only pays for your family to have insurance it also covers someone else's families coverage. Maybe we should only treat life threatening ailments at emergency rooms. Maybe we should require that emergencies have a $500.00 co-pay if not insured. It might convince the majority to purchase insurance. I don't think anyone has the answer. Lets face it, in most cases having a baby is not an emergency.

  6. tiredofbs on February 22, 2010 4:02 pm

    I'm self employed and I've had intervals when I simply couldn't afford health insurance, during those times I had to pay cash for medical care or I DID NOT receive my prescriptions or treatment from a physician and I keep hearing this argument that the insurance companies spread the losses they incur from the un-insured. They (the medical insurance companies) provide NO benefit to the un-insured I've got the bills to prove it. The comparison to mandatory auto insurance is laughable. Medical Insurance companies currently negotiate rates and pricing from health care providers and pharmacies in order to preserve profit margins. We are too willing to excuse unprincipled greed because it pays a good dividend. The role of government is to preserve order.

  7. PacoAhlgren on February 22, 2010 4:42 pm

    But you got treatment, didn't you? Were you turned away? Again, we already have universal healthcare. We have the best system in the world, and you aren't denied treatment — regardless of how minor or serious your ailment. But the reason it's so expensive is because everyone gets treatment. You can't have it both ways.

    A government run healthcare system is not going to make things less expensive. and it certainly isn't going to improve the quality of healthcare.

  8. PacoAhlgren on February 22, 2010 4:48 pm

    [polldaddy 2740025 http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/2740025/ polldaddy]

  9. marlin on February 25, 2010 10:16 pm

    I dont want healthcare reform. I would rather pay for it out of pocket as I go, and that is what I do. The average family policy is in excess of 500 a month, that is over 6 k a month, and my yearly average on doctor visits and meds is less than half of that paying as I go and includes major medical coverage. I pay $116.00 per month for major medical insurance that covers the whole family ( family of 5 ).

    I want no part of paying an additional 10 to 20 k a year in healthcare taxes. I own guns and have cable, and nobody will force me to buy healthcare insurance or pay the taxes to provide other who have an "entitlement" attitude, go work for it yourself.

    And it is not free, it will cost us all in the end.

    Let me ask you a simple question. Who writes these bills? Do not say a politician, because they will not even read them, much less write them. The politicians "sponsor" the bills, and the insurance companies write them, so you can bet they stand to gain in a huge way.

    People need to wake up and get rid of the "entitlement" mentality.




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