Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three-Cheers for Mark Alger!

Mark Alger writes a most excellent piece at Eternity Road in which he castigates a leftist troll for his advocacy of socialized medicine:
What the parties seeking to socialize our system fail to apprehend (or admit) is that they are headed in exactly the wrong direction, that if they turned around 180 degrees and began dismantling the system of price controls, of market-distorting subsidies, the counter-productive Gordian Knot of regulation and myriad state regulations (which, I submit, are ultra vires), there would be an instantaneous response from the marketplace—a flowering, if you will, of resources and goods and services that beggar even the miraculous market we have now in medicine.
Particular kudos for his remarks on the success of the Underwriters' Lab vs. the FDA:
Not stumping to remove regulation entirely, here, but a great deal of what passes for regulation is, in reality, ass-covering for bureaucrats and does little to enhance public safety. (In fact there have been myriad anecdotes relating just the opposite—that FDA meddling has made the market in drugs LESS safe.) I submit we would be far better served by a system modeled on the Underwriters’ Laboratories, which has made certain classes of manufactured goods far safer than before, and at virtually no cost to the consumer. (Nobody’s asking for government insurance for flat-screen TV’s, after all, and have you been watching the prices plummet on those things lately?)
Probably 95% of the problems we have with healthcare are due to non-market forces screwing things up. What I have found most frustrating about this debate is the narrow characterizations which been allowed to participants. I don't care whether you are a capitalist or a socialist, there are serious things wrong with our system, but you'd never know it from the way most conservatives have defended the "free-market" we have in healthcare and how great it is without the slightest qualification or reservation. The Left could not have scripted a more insipid or alienating argument to people who really do experience legitimate difficulties navigating the obtuse, Byzantine system we have created. It goes something like this: you either suck it up and cough up ungodly sums to pay for things that would be much cheaper if markets were actually free or you are a commie bum looking for a handout. Sorry, no dice with this capitalist. Or with Fred Reed:

I believe that Econ textbooks say that price controls haven’t worked from Diocletian on. Wrong. They work splendidly. Ask Bausch & Lomb. If you could make over twenty-two bucks on a dime’s worth of salt water, wouldn’t you be in favor of governmental interference in the economy?

Let me explain medicine briefly. It’s an unholy scam. Here in Mexico my wife occasionally gets ear infections. At any pharmacy, we pick up Amoxicillin, 250mg three times a day for ten days. Six bucks.

Recently we were staying in Maryland with friends, and she got an ear ache. Amoxicillin is by prescription only in the US, which means that doctors have a monopoly on ear aches. It was Friday evening. It was either agony until Monday or go to one of those mall-based walk-in clinics, which wanted $150 for the appointment and prescribed $78 in medicines.

It’s a scam, pure and simple.
Hat-tip to Ben for helpful input...

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