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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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The Second-Best Solution to Health Care: Do Nothing


The second-best solution for the health-care crisis? Do nothing.

Of course, that drives the interventionists crazy. “Do nothing?” they cry! “Don’t you realize that we’re in a crisis? We can’t afford to do nothing!”

What they fail to realize is a fundamental principle about interventionism: It produces more crises. Therefore, any new health-care intervention, whether termed “reform” or “modification” or “improvement” is only going to make things worse than they already are. New interventions will produce new and bigger crises, thereby producing calls for more “reform” in the future.

What ultimately happens is that as the crises and interventions grow in number and intensity, people get so frustrated that they end up supporting a complete government takeover of that particular segment of society. In fact, that’s already happening in the health-care debate.

So, if doing nothing is the second-best solution for the health-care crisis, what’s the best solution?

The answer to that question depends on figuring out the root cause of the problem. In a sense, that task is no different from that which a physician faces when an ailing patient comes to visit him. The doctor examines the patient, arrives at a diagnosis, and issues a prescription. The correct prescription usually depends on a correct diagnosis. Get the diagnosis wrong, and more often than not the prescription will be wrong.

It’s really no different in principle with ailments that afflict the body politic. Get the diagnosis wrong and it’s likely that the prescription will be wrong.

The diagnosis that interventionists have reached in America’s health-care crisis is that the crisis is caused by too much freedom and free enterprise in the heath-care arena. Thus, their prescription is not surprising: Socialism and interventionism.

The problem with this diagnosis, however, is that the diagnosticians fail to account for the critical factor in the ailment of the patient: massive socialism and interventionism in health care in the past. It simply never occurs to these people that those things could be the root cause of what ails the body politic — the root cause of the health-care crisis. To socialists and interventionists, it is inconceivable that socialist and interventionist programs are anything but positive, healthy things for a society. That’s why they consider them the medicine, not the source of the ailment.

That, of course, leads us to an opposing diagnosis — that it’s not freedom and free enterprise that have caused America’s health-care crisis but instead the socialism and interventionism that have infected every aspect of the health-care field.

First, on the demand side of health care you’ve got ever-growing Medicare and Medicaid expenditures, which have placed an enormous upward pressure on health-care costs.

Second, you’ve got massive government regulation of both the medical and insurance industries, adversely impacting both the demand side and supply side of health care.

Third, you’ve got income-tax manipulation that has perverted the market with respect to employer-provided health-care insurance.

Fourth, on the supply side of health care you have occupational-licensure laws, which have strictly limited the supply of health-care providers.

Therein lies the root cause of America’s health-care crisis. Thus, the prescription is obvious: radical surgery by removing all of this cancerous material from the body politic. No reform. Simply an immediately repeal of Medicare, Medicaid, health-care and insurance regulations, and medical licensure. End all government involvement in health care. Given the positive power of the free market and the enormous resiliency of human beings, the body politic will immediately begin recovering.

That is the only solution to America’s health-care crisis. But if Americans cannot bring themselves to rid the body politic of all this socialist and interventionist cancer, then the second-best solution is to do nothing at all. Because infecting the body politic with even more cancer will only make the condition worse.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.