Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's all in the premise (or, is SpongeBob Squarepants on a higher plane of reality?)

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:

It's all in the premise (or, is SpongeBob Squarepants on a higher plane of reality?)
Jim Fedako

I just finished an enlightening phone call with my congressman's health policy advisor. I had called to give my opinion of an "official business" mailing I had just received ("official business" being the cover for a taxpayer-funded campaign flyer).

No matter how hard I tried, from the staffer's point of view, our debate was over which party has the best plan to lower healthcare costs. I repeatedly noted that her argument begs the question -- she assumes that government is the solution. Regardless of what I said, she wouldn't accept my insistence of a logical fallacy. And she kept coming back to her main premise: Healthcare is too expensive.

So I pulled that thread a bit.

I asked her to explain why healthcare is so expensive. "Many reasons," she replied.

"OK. Since you are the policy expert, give me the top reason," I prodded.

To this she responded, "The incidence of illnesses like type-2 diabetes is on the rise. We need to have people live healthier lives."

I walked her through what I thought was her logic: Since healthcare is too expensive, due to (inter alia) folks not taking care of themselves, government must step in (as there is no other means to lower costs) to manage costs and change lifestyles.

"That's right," she said without hesitation.

So there you have it. Assume that healthcare is too expensive and that government is the solution, and the next logical step is an increased nanny state.

"Just another crisis to feed the Leviathan," I thought.

I reminded the staffer that she is a Republican and that Republicans are supposed to be against government intrusions into personal matters (I do not believe that statement, but I like to hear the rhetorical gymnastics when the political class is confronted with their own hypocrisy).

She rewound back to the beginning, "But healthcare is too expensive."

It's coming. The folks in DC will be snooping in my pantry within 5 years, regardless the party. And it will be under cover of reducing healthcare costs.


The reason I initially called was to discuss statements in the flyer where my congressman claims to support, among other things:

-- Permitting students to remain on their parent's policy through the age of 25
-- Continuing the fight against breast cancer by ensuring the availability of annual mammograms.
I asked, "Are there any current federal or state laws that prohibit students from being on their parent's policies or stop women from seeking mammograms?" The staffer couldn't name any.

I said, "Then are you permitting and ensuring? Or are you forcing?" Silence.

I then continued, "So, who is going to pay for these new regulations?"

She responded, "Well, they really don't cost anything. Consider 25-year-old students, they are likely very healthy. They'll improve the pool of insured. So there is no additional cost for keeping them on the policy."

"If that were the case, wouldn't insurance companies already be doing so in order to attract more business?" I added, feeling my head begin to spin.

"Yes. So, why not just make it law?" was the non sequitur.

That's when I realized that it was time for SpongeBob Squarepants -- a return to a reality that I can understand and enjoy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like discussing health care with Spongebob's sidekick Patrick would have been just as enlightening--but a heck of a lot more entertaining.