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The Conservative Think Tank Healthcare Racket

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Kudos to John Stossel for his recent syndicated column entitled “An Improved Health Bill,” in which he makes the following two recommendations, among others: Abolish Medicare and Abolish Medicaid.

That’s amazing. I think it’s the first time in my lifetime that I can recall that the mainstream media has published a call for repealing (i.e., not reforming) these two socialist programs.

Stossel clearly gets it. He understands that simply repealing Obamacare will not resolve America’s healthcare woes. That’s because Medicare and Medicaid are the root of America’s healthcare crisis. That’s when healthcare costs began to soar out of control. Leave these two programs intact, and America’s healthcare system will remain in perpetual crisis.

Reform, of course, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of conservatives. They love pointing out the faults, failures, and foibles of welfare-state programs but then invariably end up calling for reform rather than repeal of the program.

In fact, one of the best ways to determine whether a writer or a speaker is a libertarian or a conservative is by examining his solution to welfare-state problems. If someone’s article or speech calls for reforming a program, there is a 95 percent probability that he is a conservative. If it instead calls for repealing a program, there is a 95 percent probability that you’re dealing with a libertarian.

Conservative are notorious for their allegiance to what can only be called the “reform racket.” It works like this: Every welfare-state program will inevitably produce problems, chaos, or crises. That’s what socialism does. It’s an inherently defective system. Socialist programs always produce problems, chaos, or crises.

Enter conservatives and conservative think tanks. They publish articles, studies, reports, analyses, and critiques of the faults and failures of socialist programs, which, of course, provides them with the opportunity to seek donations from well-heeled conservative donors to fund these projects.

But here’s a kicker: These conservative studies, reports, and analyses invariably end with some variation of the following words: “The system needs reform.”

What does the reform consist of? Sometimes conservatives will lay out some specific reform proposal. Other times they will simply conclude with “The system needs reform” without advocating any particular reform. What matters though is that conservative will leave the original socialist program intact, not eradicated, regardless of whether it is reformed or not.

That’s because an intact socialist program, reformed or not, continues to produce problems, chaos, or crises, which then necessitates the need for more studies, reports, analyses, and critiques, which require more donations from well-heeled conservative donors to fund the projects.

If, on the other hand, the program were to be eradicated, that would mean no more problems, chaos, or crises that would need to be studied, analyzed, and written about, which would then mean no more opportunities to get funding from well-heeled conservative donors to fund the projects.

One of the best examples of this phenomenon is with respect to healthcare. For the past 7 years or so, conservatives have called for a repeal of Obamacare. That was the centerpiece of their opposition to President Obama’s tenure in office.

But notice one big thing about conservative analyses of America’s healthcare woes: They invariably call for repeal or reform of Obamacare but leave Medicare and Medicaid intact. That means that regardless of whether they repeal Obamacare or reform it, the healthcare problems, chaos, and crises will continue because they’re leaving Medicare and Medicaid, the root of the problem, in existence. That means the need for more studies, reports, and analyses and the need for a constant supply of donations from well-heeled conservative donors to fund a never-ending stream of studies, reports, and analyses. It’s quite a beautiful little racket, one in which there is a symbiotic relationship between the welfare state and conservative think tanks.

There is only one solution to America’s healthcare woes: Separate healthcare and the state and restore a free-market healthcare system to our land. That necessarily means pulling the weed out by its root — or, to mix metaphors, to eradicate, not reform, the cancer that is killing the body politic.

That means repealing, not reforming, Medicare and Medicaid. John Stossel gets it. Too bad that conservatives don’t.

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.