Citizens’ Health Care is The Road to Serfdom

[This is part 2 of a two-part series. Part 1 was published Friday.]

The so-called “Citizens’ Health Care Working Group,” created by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, which Michael F. Cannon of the Cato Institute accurately labeled as a more or less leftist front group, is soliciting comments on its interim recommendations on how to fix American healthcare. They of course, don’t mention any of the obvious solutions which should come to a red-blooded American capitalist. Nope, taxes, taxes, taxes. Not to mention behavioral restriction and income redistribution. In the interest of public health of course. But let’s take a gander at their own words:

It should be public policy, established in law, that all Americans have affordable health care coverage. . . .

This and other of the recommendations contained here call for actions that will require new revenues. . . .

We recommend adopting financing strategies for these recommendations that are based on principles of [socialism, bureaucracy and wealth redistribution]. These strategies should draw on dedicated revenue streams such as enrollee contributions, income taxes or surcharges, “sin taxes,” business or payroll taxes, or value-added taxes that are targeted at supporting these new health care initiatives.

The Road to Serfdom

So let’s go through these one by one:

Enrollee contributions: So you’re still going to have to pay a premium of sorts.

Income taxes: If the middle class was pissed about how hard it is to pay for healthcare, they’re going to be even more upset now that they’re paying even more of other peoples’ insurance costs. Paying more for the same health insurance just because you have more money. The very essence of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Payroll taxes: Because we all know how well Social Security works. Not to mention that even if it’s a flat rate, those with a higher income will again be paying more for the same coverage. The other thing I don’t like about payroll taxes is that they’re a form of hidden taxes. You never think about how high your payroll taxes are because the money never touched your hand (the same reason I don’t withhold for income tax). You don’t realize the level of taxation because you have no mental framework to do so.

Sin taxes: As a 22 year old ex-athlete who eats like he still is one, what do you think I’d say about this? Here the government is going to make the assumption that junk food inevitably leads to bad health. It doesn’t. Not in moderation. And those who responsibly consume such victuals as Taco Bell at 2 a.m. will be punished for the transgressions of a few lardly individuals.

Value-added taxes: Basically a combination of a sin tax and a hidden tax. The thing about the VAT is that, like the payroll tax, you don’t fully mentalize how much these cost. I lived in Britain for a year. I can’t even tell you what the VAT was — and I paid it every day. All I can tell you is that everything in Britain was bloody expensive. Here, at least I can scream about my income tax because come April 15th I know exactly how much the government stole from me.

I’ve given their recommendations a once over, and they seem to be a once again perfect example of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. First, they take our money through enrollment fees, income tax (doubly progressive), and payroll tax (progressive). And then, in order to reduce costs, they control the way we can act through “sin” taxes and value added taxes. Now how does this encourage freedom? By taking yet more property (income) away from the masses, controlling how its redistributed, and then yet further restricting their behavior in the interest of “the public good.”

Not to mention the fact that their entire premise, that “it should be a matter of public policy that all Americans have affordable health care” is on shaky ground when it comes to American political philosophy. Now, I’m a big fan of affordable healthcare, don’t get me wrong. But at what cost? Of being told I must pay into and use the government (substandard) system (as in Canada)? Or that I must pay into it even if I don’t use it (as in England)? Or that the food I can eat and the ways I can behave be proscribed because it would cost the government more to pay for my care should something happen to me? No thank you.

To repeat the words Thomas Jefferson famously penned in a letter to Archibald Stuart: “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.”

[You can comment on the proposed health care policy until August 31. Tell them to take their socialism and shove it.]