John Stossel and Penn Jillette were both featured guests on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show recently to talk about the new healthcare bill about to be rammed through Congress.
What’s interesting, among other things, is the discussion of the dichotomy between positive and negative liberties, a distinction that too many people have never considered.
Negative liberties–those liberties which restrain government action, such as those in the Bill of Rights–are the only liberties which government can justly protect. Positive liberties–those liberties, such as “the right to a job” or “the right to healthcare,” which require action on the part of the government to fulfill–are about to wreck those few negative liberties which the Constitution protects. Positive liberties require action on the part of the government. And because government possesses nothing which it does not take from others, this necessarily means that in order to provide everyone with healthcare, the government will have to plunder from everyone to make it happen.
The issue of a broken healthcare market is also touched upon, but Penn doesn’t really go into much depth. Healthcare costs so much in America, contrary to what the majority of the public has been led to believe, not because of capitalism, but because the market is not free enough. The existence of insurance has meant that end consumers do not pay the full price of healthcare, and thus the industry is isolated from the natural controls on price that occur as a result of the relationship of supply and demand in a free market. This disconnect between producer and consumer is the reason why college students pay about a dollar per page when they buy textbooks. When you take away the disincentive against raising prices–the possibility that a producer’s prices may be so high that people cannot afford to pay for them–you give producers carte blanche to raise prices.
It is impossible to envision a universal health insurance system that will not make healthcare prices skyrocket. It’s entry-level economics. And we will all suffer if this abomination ever becomes public law.