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Stephen Herrington Headshot

Obama Finally Said It

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I have been waiting a long time for a President of the United States to utter the phrases that shall not be spoken. Obama's Tuesday press conference did it, "...why is it that the government, which they say can't run anything, suddenly is going to drive them out of business?" The pure music of truth, so long forbidden by howling, fang-baring dogs of deception, that it has become impossible for a mere politician to think it, much less speak it.

Private business is no better at running anything than is the government. Despite annals filled with examples confirming otherwise, business continues to harp on the outright lie that they are better at management, creativity and efficiency. Evidence to the contrary: the Manhattan Project; the Apollo Program; Medicare -- which operates on a third of the overhead of private medical insurance. Yes, the private medical insurers should be afraid. Government can kick their ass.

So, also Tuesday, a consortium of medical insurers issue a bawling complaint that they will accept close regulation rather than accede to a government health program which would cause their bread and butter, the grossly inefficient employer based health insurance system, to be jeopardized.

The complaints and pleadings are too little and too late. They held the public and employers hostage and soaked them, soaked them until medical bankruptcy is 62% of all bankruptcies, precisely the thing that insurance should be in business to protect you from. Too little and too late because the public has believed and been betrayed. The greed would not stop even as the prospects of Americans has steadily declined for 30 years. People simply can't pay any more. It is a matter of life and death and death is the only alternative after you fall below the line of ability to pay.

If the alternatives are no health care or rationed care, most Americans are ready to make the only plausible choice. Some health care is better than none. It is beyond any question of socialized medicine. The greed of providers and insurers alike has driven costs so high that the working public simply no longer qualifies as a paying customers. If the question becomes the financial destruction of your family's prospects versus saving your own life, what can be done but to make the most impossible of choices?

Far from sharing the misery of decline, hospitals and insurers are a super capitalism unto themselves. If prices can still increase, there are still enough customers to cover profitability even as more and more people can't participate. Where does this end? The logical conclusion is that only the rich will have medial insurance, and that that insurance will take more and more of their wealth until even they can't pay. Then the system will break completely. For many it has already broken. It is a health care profit bubble that must necessarily break. The problem with letting it break is that people will suffer and die rather than lose some investment, bad enough.

So the socialization of medicine is, like all social interventions, a remedy for the excesses of business. Had they been sober enough to foresee the logical outcome of their quarter on quarter quest for higher profits, they might have seen that they were pricing themselves out of business. They might have seen stiff price controls or even socialized medicine coming. They did not because greed has no foresight, ever. Greed is today, now, and never tomorrow, even though the impulse to greed is to have enough for tomorrow, now.

But words matter. If our President is willing to take on the most sacred cows of business mythology, like that business is superior to government at everything, then the time for change is come. You wondered what the change was? This is it, one word, one sentence at a time. And he can speak in complete sentences.