Always study your opponent, never underestimate it, no matter how stupid it may seem to be (or is). In keeping with this basic norm, from time to time we publish unedited and in toto (but annotated) materials originating in the cynical or profoundly delusional minds of the Right. Below, an outburst of free market nonsense by billionaire Steve Forbes, whose ability to pollute the consciousness of Americans is directly derived from an accident of birth that gave him lifetime access to big media.
Unlike a government bureaucracy, companies in free markets don’t respond to rising demand by cutting back on something. If there’s a need for more food or clothing or flatscreen televisions, entrepreneurs find a way to meet it. If we had an open market for health care, the solution would not be to cut back on expensive injections to help ease pain for elderly people. Businesses would find new ways to provide more—and at less cost. This has happened in tiny slivers of the health care market that are not affected by today’s regulations. One example: the availability of flu shots at discounters like Walgreens.
Statists insist that Big Government is needed to fix health care. But today’s system evolved in response to regulation, not consumer demand. During World War II, employers couldn’t raise wages because of wartime wage and price controls. So they started offering health insurance. Federal tax law allowing employers to deduct health care costs institutionalized the practice.
The result? A government-configured industry where corporations are the primary buyers of health insurance. The market is therefore about meeting their needs, not those of consumers.
In a truly open market, individuals, and not companies, would be the buyers of health care. Employees, and not just employers, would receive a tax deduction for buying insurance. Barriers to a national market would be removed.
Those very simple reforms would quickly produce a consumer-driven market. If you were the primary buyer of health care, insurers, doctors, and hospitals would have to compete to win your business. Freed from the constraints of state regulations, entrepreneurial problem solvers would meet your needs—just as they have in every other market. You’d get better care and friendlier service. Prices, above all, would come down.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The short of it is that STEVE FORBES owns Forbes magazine. He is the editor-in-chief of Forbes as well as well as president and chief executive officer of its publisher, Forbes, Inc. He was a Republican candidate in the U.S. Presidential primaries in 1996 and 2000. He is the son of longtime Forbes magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes and the grandson of that publication’s founder, B.C. Forbes.
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