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Milton Friedman And ObamaCare


friedmandonahuees (2)Where is Milton Friedman when we need him most? His ability to explain complex subjects in simple terms is needed, especially with regard to the fiasco we know as the “Affordable Care Act.”

In politics, there is little truth. The denizens of this netherworld are not our best and brightest. Most do not consider ethics or truth as boundaries. As a result, it is difficult to differentiate between stupidity, disingenuous and downright lying when examining their positions. Truth, when it meets their desired ends, is not avoided, although it is rarely convenient.

The following exchange represents a typical example of the nonsense that passes for news. This one involves a confrontation between Megyn Kelly (Fox News) and Democratic Rep (NJ) Frank Pallone over ObamaCare. It was reported by the Daily Caller and is of note because of the absurd politician’s answers and the inept handling of them by the host:

PALLONE: They tell them where to get insurance. Look the bottom line is, if you are selling a lousy policy at a price that’s too high, nobody is going to buy it.

KELLY: That’s not true.

PALLONE: And so they are canceling these policies because they know people won’t buy them. It’s a competitive marketplace. That’s the problem.

KELLY: But they were buying them.


PALLONE: But they won’t buy them anymore when they have a better alternative.

KELLY: There were 15 million people who bought them and said “I like them.”

PALLONE: They’re not going to buy them anymore when they have a better alternative.

KELLY: Thanks to you.

PALLONE: Well, I can’t go out as an insurance company and sell a lousy policy anymore at a high price.

KELLY: People like — why do you get to decide what’s lousy? Why can’t the American people say ‘it’s lousy for you. For me, I like it.’

PALLONE: It’s capitalism. You can go out and buy whatever you want, but the insurance company realizes they can’t sell this lousy insurance policy anymore.

KELLY: They were selling it, sir. You are ignoring my point. They were selling it. Some 15 million Americans thought it was great. You didn’t like it, but they liked it. And then you and the president –

PALLONE: Now there are better alternatives.

I didn’t see the encounter. I rarely watch television news. It is safer for me and more so for my television that way.

Rep. Pallone attempts to use, of all things, free markets as a defense. His responses are laced with direct and indirect references:

  • “It’s a competitive marketplace.”
  • “… they [citizens] have better alternatives.”
  •  “It’s capitalism. You can go out and buy whatever you want …”
  • “Now there are better alternatives.”

His terminology is reminiscent of the late Milton Friedman who must be spinning in his grave if he heard the segment.

Frank Pallone is no Milton Friedman. Unfortunately, neither is Megyn Kelly. A defense of ObamaCare on free markets or competitive markets is an outrage. So too was the host’s inability or unwillingness to recognize that. “It’s a competitive marketplace” would have been, politely and effectively, the point at which Dr. Friedman would have obliterated Rep. Pallone’s position.

A competitive marketplace requires freedom on the part of both buyers and sellers. ObamaCare is a lot of things, but it is not a competitive marketplace. It reduce/eliminates freedom from both parties to a transaction. It is government coercion. What little competition and competitive markets existed in healthcare (as a result of prior governmental interventions) was eliminated with the passage of the ACA.

ObamaCare is classic central planning run amuck. It reduces choice, mandating by law what is “acceptable.” Regardless of what you prefer, you must buy what has been deemed acceptable by some unknown, pointy-headed bureaucrat. The threat of force backs up the “must.”

Neither buyer or seller gains from this legislation. Both have their freedoms restricted and are harmed. Government power and control is the only winner, again.

Consumer sovereignty no longer controls the insurance producers. Nor will it guide the service, delivery and quality of medical care forthcoming. These are now determined by a Politburo, indistinguishable in power and control from the old Soviet Union. “Death Panels” represent the extreme of a series of decisions that have nothing to do with buyer or seller.

Freedom and economics need not be complex. Anyone who saw Milton Friedman on television found his presentation simple and understandable. The classic video with Phil Donahue (provided below) illustrates his unique ability. A more relevant one about Socialized  medicine, which Mr. Friedman  presented at the Mayo Clinic 35 years ago, is also provided.

Few have Friedman’s capabilities. Yet how difficult would it have been to respond to Rep. Pallone with some simple analogy along the following lines?

I have always driven a Ford pickup because I like it, it meets my needs and it fits my budget. Now you have made it illegal for Ford to produce pickups or any car but a Lincoln. My “choice” is now limited to buying a Lincoln or a Cadillac. While they may be better cars, neither fits my needs or budget. Forcing me to accept your preferences has not made me better off.

Or, what about the obvious issue of coercion versus choice?

If the ObamaCare program is so good, then the legislation of penalties, fines and coercion would be unnecessary. People would flock to it out of choice, not compulsion. The reality is that it is not good and that is why you needed the force of law to make it work.

Enjoy the following clips and pray that someone with Friedman’s common sense and communicative skills steps forward to address the nonsense that passes for policy in Washington.

1 thought on “Milton Friedman And ObamaCare”

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