|English: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Washington, Aug.12, stock tips .- Lately, many have characterized this administration as socialist, or having strong socialist leanings. I differ with this characterization. This is not to say Mr. Obama believes in free markets by any means. On the contrary, he has done and said much that demonstrates his fundamental misunderstanding and hostility toward the truly free market. But a closer, honest examination of his policies and actions in office reveals that, much like the previous administration, he is very much a corporatist. This in many ways can be more insidious and worse than being an outright socialist.
Socialism is a system where the government directly owns and manages businesses. Corporatism is a system where businesses are nominally in private hands, but are in fact controlled by the government. In a corporatist state, government officials often act in collusion with their favored business interests to design policies that give those interests a monopoly position, to the detriment of both competitors and consumers.
A careful examination of the policies pursued by the Obama administration and his allies in Congress shows that their agenda is corporatist. For example, the health care bill does not establish a Canadian-style government-run single-payer health care system. Instead, it relies on mandates forcing every American to purchase private health insurance or pay a fine. It also includes subsidies for low-income Americans and government-run health care "exchanges."
Contrary to the claims of the proponents of the health care bill, large insurance and pharmaceutical companies were enthusiastic supporters of many provisions of this legislation because they knew in the end their bottom lines would be enriched by Obamacare.
To call the president a corporatist is not to soft-pedal criticism of his administration. It is merely a more accurate description of the president's agenda.
When he is a called a socialist, the president and his defenders can easily deflect that charge by pointing out that the historical meaning of socialism is government ownership of industry; under the president's policies, industry remains in nominally private hands. Using the more accurate term -- corporatism -- forces the president to defend his policies that increase government control of private industries and expand de facto subsidies to big businesses. This also promotes the understanding that though the current system may not be pure socialism, neither is it free market since government controls the private sector through taxes, regulations and subsidies, and has done so for decades.
Using precise terms can prevent future statists from successfully blaming the inevitable failure of their programs on the remnants of the free market that are still allowed to exist. We must not allow the disastrous results of corporatism to be ascribed incorrectly to free market capitalism or used as a justification for more government expansion. Most importantly, we must learn what freedom really is and educate others on how infringements on our economic liberties caused our economic woes in the first place.
Government is the problem; it cannot be the solution.
The fundamental problem with health care costs in America is that the doctor-patient relationship has been profoundly altered by third-party interference. Third parties, either government agencies themselves or nominally private insurance companies virtually forced upon us by government policies, have not only destroyed doctor-patient confidentiality. They also inescapably drive up costs because basic market disciplines -- supply and demand, price sensitivity and profit signals -- are destroyed.
Obamacare, via its insurance mandate, is more of the same misdiagnosis.
Gabriel Vidal, chief operating officer of a U.S. hospital system, sees this problem squarely in his daily work. As he explains, Obamacare will only make matters worse because it fails to recognize that "costs are out of control because they do not reflect prices created by the voluntary exchange between patients and providers... like every well-functioning industry."
Instead, "health costs reflect the distortions that government regulators have introduced through reimbursement mechanisms created by command-and-control bureaucracies at federal and state levels," he continues. "But it is theoretically and practically impossible for a bureaucrat -- no matter how accurate the cost data, how well-intentioned and how sophisticated his computer program -- to come up with the correct and just price. The (doctor-patient) relationship... has been corrupted by the intrusion of government and its intermediaries (HMOs, for example) to such an extent that we can no longer speak of a relationship that can produce meaningful pricing information."
Absent such pricing information, our system increasingly resembles socialist systems with centralized price setting, shortages, rationing, apathy and declining quality of care. As the situation deteriorates, fewer bright young people want to practice medicine and fewer foreign doctors seek to immigrate.
The problem is acute and worsening. Obamacare's third-party insurance mandate is only the first step toward what the political left really wants: a single-payer government health care system.
Meanwhile, conservatives seem resigned to a third-party insurance system and therefore fail to present a viable alternative to the American people. They continue to speak in terms of saving the health care "system," when in fact what America needs is a rejection of all government systems in favor of free market mechanisms.