The political opposition to nationalized healthcare within Congress is conspicuous by its absence. Despite the presence of widespread and deep public opposition to “Obamacare,” many politicians are pretending like the upcoming election is not a referendum in some aspects on big government power-grabs like nationalized healthcare.
A Rasmussen Reports poll conducted on July 4th, 2011 found that “53% of Likely Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law, while 39% at least somewhat oppose it. This includes 40% who Strongly Favor repeal and 29% who are Strongly Opposed.”
Despite this level of public opposition, politicians are tending not to run on the repeal of Obamacare. Part of the explanation for this disturbing state of affairs lay in Congress’ exemption of itself from inclusion in the healthcare system that it would legislatively impose on the citizenry at large. President Obama’s waivers for mandated healthcare coverage continues the trend of the political class issuing arbitrary exemptions from this law.
Arbitrary fiat of this kind accrues personal political power to individual politicians under the guise of “democracy” by allowing them to misuse government power to patronize specific interest groups. These interest groups tend to operate on a quid pro quo basis with politicians, as they often contribute campaign funds and issue other political favors in exchange for taxpayer subsidies, grants, or loans, or relief from burdensome or oppressive laws.
The misuse of government power by both Democrats and Republicans to reward political allies and punish adversaries is a major continuing trend that is destabilizing our Constitutional system of government. In combination with such anti-republican actions as the ratification of the seventeenth amendment, establishing direct elections for U.S. Senators instead of elections by the state legislature, the practice of political patronage has fostered the steady rise in America of an oligarchic class on the foundation of “democracy.”
It was never the intention of the father of the Constitution James Madison that Constitutional clauses such as the “necessary and proper clause,” the “Commerce Clause,” or the “general welfare clause” be taken out of context and be so construed as to allow politicians to extract resources from the general population to be used as patronage for political cronies. As James Madison wrote of the general welfare clause in particular:
“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their Own hands; they may appoint teachers in every state, county, and parish, and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision for the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress; for every object I have mentioned would admit of the application of money, and might be called, if Congress pleased, provisions for the general welfare.” (On the Cod Fishery Bill, granting Bounties. House of Representatives, February 3, 1792)
Therefore there are checks instituted in The Constitution not only to prevent the accumulation of political power, but to present barriers to the capricious institution of sweeping national measures on the basis of bare popular sentiment, or by the determined will of a power-hungry minority. The amendment process was embedded in The Constitution to allow a means for a policy or program to become established in accordance with a broad and deep consensus of the people and the states; amendments by design require high thresholds to ratify. That the amendment process is largely ignored by the government as the legitimate method of instituting broad and sweeping federal authority over the citizenry is a major sign that our Constitutional republican system is becoming undone. The common justification for ignoring the Constitution among our intellectuals and politicians is that we have a “need” for greater democracy.
One measure of “democracy” in the world can be found by proxy in the level of public debt. Though an imperfect proxy, because military spending contributes greatly to national debt, there appears through comparison of global charts, graphs, and statistics to be a connection between high levels of public debt per capita and eventually popular, though ultimately unsustainable, social welfare programs such as universalized medicine.
Universal medicine is, politically speaking, the sina qua non of humans’ dependence on government for their very lives. When government has such intensive control over the lives of the citizenry, control of all other spheres of life follows by necessity. Americans’ recognition of this dangerous interrelationship between the citizen and the government is the reason for such strong opposition; the power and surety of control universal medicine grants to politicians is the reason for its tacit and overt support in the government, especially as the elites have exempted themselves from what certainly will be a degrading system in terms of quality and human dignity.
Nationalized healthcare falls generally into three categories: single payer, two-tier, and universal mandate. While many have deluded themselves into believing universal healthcare will be “free,” what they don’t realize is that under an eventual single-payer system, as Obama has repeatedly stated is his intention, the monetary costs are replaced by personal costs. Such costs possibly including one’s life, as due to rationing one may be denied or forced to wait too long for what the government considers to be an excessively costly procedure. But those in denial as to the constraints of economic reality are mentally unable to make such connections, and instead substitute altruism as an all-powerful force able to overcome such costs. “Love conquers all,” as they say; this should be amended by adding, “except reality.”
The best indicator of a nation’s living outside the constraints of economic reality is public debt. Even further, public debt is largely driven by welfare spending. But what distinguishes nations with moderate and sustainable levels of debt and those with unsustainable levels of debt is universal healthcare. Two graphs will illustrate this point.
Below I will post a chart from “The Economist” on public debt per person around the world (linked here is the interactive chart). Nations with higher levels of debt are in red, and include the United States. The chart has the U.S. at 59.2% public debt-to GDP, while per capita debt is at 95% debt-to-per capita GDP, and total federal debt is 95% debt-to-GDP.
Below I will embed a chart illustrating national forms of healthcare (interactive chart here). Notice the correlation between universal healthcare and extremely high levels of national debt.
Countries with universal healthcare fall into two camps:
1. Totalitarian regimes like Cuba and North Korea, and authoritarian Third World countries in the Middle East and Africa.
2. Western nations that free-ride off of American military spending and its provision of international security, but nonetheless run unsustainable budgets with immense debts trying to pay for their social welfare states.
Since America, the banker of last resort, will be unable to shoulder the burden of sustaining its own debt, at least in the foreseeable future, and the states able to bail these Western nations out will likely be unwilling to, these countries will likely economically collapse like Greece, probably to be followed by Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, even Britain; this is due not only to welfare programs like universal healthcare, but because of demographic time bombs, government waste, and exorbitant union wages and pensions beyond what workers actually contribute to the economy.
There appears to be no general rule of thumb when a nation’s debt becomes so great it leads to economic collapse. I agree with Ben Bernanke when he remarkably commented: “Neither experience nor economic theory clearly indicates the threshold at which government debt begins to endanger prosperity and economic stability. But given the significant costs and risks associated with a rapidly rising federal debt, our nation should soon put in place a credible plan for reducing deficits to sustainable levels over time.”
Such a statement from a Federal Reserve Board Chairmen, of all people, makes clear that Obamacare is unsustainable as a program. Consider that according to the chart above, and the levels of debt-to-gdp statistics cited, America is already in the category of high debt-to-gdp. Now also consider that although it is among the most indebted countries in the world, what distinguishes it from the rest is that it does not currently have universal medicine!
There is a deal of ruin in a nation, as Adam Smith wrote, and these politicians are apparently content to find out what that deal is. An economic collapse is not a pretty thing, and although it appears to the rest of us to be undesirable, it may actually accrue power to politicians to reinvent a nation as they see fit, which invariably entails tyranny of one form or another. Never in history has the collapse of a country into chaos and tumult led to happiness and prosperity – even once. On the contrary, those countries that collapse economically become easy prey for aspiring dictators, who are granted legitimacy and arbitrary authority to come in and put a bloody end to the inevitable rioting and infighting, and after the insurrection is put down, to reinforce the oppressive regime as a “normalized” aspect of national life.
It may be one of those ironies that the desire for “free” healthcare can lead to the loss of our relatively free country. We need to inform our admirably well-intentioned, but less-than-bright fellow citizens, of the urgent need not to trust the seemingly good intentions of power-bent politicians, who will use compassion against them to undermine the rule of law and all barriers to political power.