Like free healthcare. Higher wages. Free college education.
Of course, these are a bit like the promises either of my two children would have made if they had been running for President of the Rossie household when they were five or six years old.
Vote for me, and we’ll eat out five times a week. We’ll go to the movies every night, someone else will clean your room and I’ll put a unicorn in the backyard.
Those kind of pie-in-the-sky promises are cute when you’re six. When you’re seventy and don’t have a plan to pay for the fast food and cinema — or “free” health care or college you’re promising — it’s a bit disturbing.
There are two main problems with liberalism, socialism, communism or whatever the frontrunners of the Democratic Party are calling redistributionism these days.
First, it’s unjust. Redistribution involves giving someone something they didn’t earn by taking something from someone who did earn it.
The great classical-liberal economist Frédéric Bastiat labeled that “legalized plunder” in his book The Law.
Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Thus, the beneficiaries are spared the shame, danger, and scruple which their acts would otherwise involve. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons, and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim — when he defends himself — as a criminal. In short, there is a legal plunder …
But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.
Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals.
While I urge you to always remember the unjustness of using governmental force to “spread the wealth,” there’s a second problem with liberal pipe dreams.
They don’t work.
The news this week contained three examples from President Obama’s grand promises of eight years ago. First, the Heritage Foundation uncovered that over 97 percent of those who gained coverage under Obamacare last year did so because of Medicaid expansion. Since government subsidized co-ops, including the one here in Nevada, keep going belly-up, Obamacare has clearly failed.
That brings us to the second example, with New York Post reporting this week that “Obamacare is heading toward a death spiral.”
If you get insurance at work, you’re paying an extra tax to fund “reinsurance” for ObamaCare plans. It’s a fund to defray the cost of their most expensive enrollees.
So far, insurers have collected about $7.9 billion. Recent congressional testimony shows the payments kept ObamaCare sticker prices about 11 percent lower than they otherwise would have been. In short, you pay a tax to make ObamaCare look more affordable than it is.
But even with these hidden subsidies, ObamaCare isn’t working because the design is fatally flawed. The 5 percent of the population with serious medical conditions consume nearly 50 percent of the health care. When you try to sell insurance to sick and healthy people for the same price, the healthy don’t sign up. It’s too expensive.
Third, Obama’s mandate that doctors use electronic medical records — which greatly benefited the company of a top Obama donor — has produced an expensive boondoggle that looks to be hurting patients.
Michelle Malkin cites Robert Wachter, author of The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age to describe the destruction: “Physicians retiring early. Small practices bankrupted by up-front expenses or locked into ineffective systems by the prohibitive cost of switching. Hours consumed by onerous data entry unrelated to patient care. Workflow disruptions. And above all, massive intrusions on our patient relationships.”
So the next time Bernie or Hillary promise me the government can provide me free healthcare or college tuition, I’m going to pass. There’s a better chance my son or daughter found that unicorn for the backyard.
Sharon Rossie is president of Nevada Policy Research Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that produces and shares ideas and information that empowers people. For more information, please visit www.NPRI.org.