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Hullabaloo


Thursday, July 27, 2017

 

CONSUME. BUY.

by Tom Sullivan

The sitting president is only the most extreme version of the derangement infecting his party's leadership.

Listening to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., (among others) pontificate yesterday about the evils of Obamacare and the efficiency of the Market was further proof. He argued at length Americans should have a choice of what insurance to buy. Because that's freedom. Freedom is good, but ... You. Must. Be. A. Consumer.

(No transcript is available, so I'm jumping around a bit in his speech.)

Obamacare must be repealed, Rand Paul argues, because of rising premiums and lack of choice. "Obamacare is predicated on force and coercion," Paul argues. "This is what happens when you let government get involved in the marketplace." So surrender yourself to the Market. You. Must. Be. A. Consumer.

Because of Obamacare, many places in America have no choice, the senator worries. "It's about freedom of choice. It's about whether you as an American can make the choice whether you want insurance or don't want insurance," but ... You. Must. Be. A. Consumer.

See, the problem is really in the individual market. Group insurance works fine if you work for a large corporation, "Toyota or Ford or General Motors," says Senator Paul. If you get sick, you don't lose your job or see your rates skyrocket. But the individual market is a "terrible place to be." Paul proposes legalizing forming group markets across state lines so individual farmers or plumbers are free to join groups too. Just not one, national group.

"I don't think we can overstate the negotiating value of a group," Paul says. This is "collective bargaining for consumers." You liberals think that's okay for labor, right? Why not for consumers? But ... You. Must. Be. A. Consumer.

It is a strange definition of freedom that dictates you must be a consumer. It is stranger still coming from a Republican party that actively works to prevent workers from forming unions and engaging in collective bargaining. Yet with a straight face, Paul argues that, because collective bargaining works, consumers should be free to form groups to bargain for health care and drugs. Just not as one, national, not-for-profit group. Being a consumer is freedom. Belonging to a national community is tyranny. The Market demands tribute.

Paul twice condemned the unionized U.S. Postal Service for not making a profit. Authorized under the U.S. Constitution, USPS must now operate in the marketplace and work "toward more innovation, profit, and efficiency" in spite of the fact it is legally mandated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at a uniform price. And when this quasi-government agency cannot operate at a profit in a marketplace dictated for it, it proves government does not work. No matter that the Post Office operated for centuries before it was expected to compete as a common, for-profit business instead of as a community service.

"The federal government cannot deliver the mail. All right?" Paul explained. "They lose a billion dollars a quarter delivering your mail. Do you want them in charge of your doctor?" Or anything else, if it cannot operate in the black?

From what is publicly known, the Defense Department — another government bureau authorized by the Constitution — spent $600 billion last year. Meaning the Pentagon "lost" 150 times more a quarter delivering national security than what Paul condemns in the government delivering mail. You have no choice of national defense providers either. ("A lot of people don't know that.") And there's a penalty for not paying for the service.

So what is it with the Pentagon? Wasteful spending? Bad management? Poor marketing?

Surely there are wars around the world just begging for the United States military to fight them. Wars are not one-size-fits-all affairs, of course, and different countries have a range of budgets. So like the Obamacare exchanges, the Pentagon could offer consumers Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans. And because we believe in capitalism, we shouldn't fear competing with the Russians and the Chinese for the business.

We are the premier military in the world. The Mercedes of militaries. Naturally, our costs are higher because our quality is higher. So if we are having trouble winning war-fighting contracts on a time-and-expense basis, the Pentagon could offer to keep costs down for potential clients with a not-to-exceed contract option. With that added risk, of course, the Pentagon would have to insist on a bonus clause for victories brought in early and under budget.

Seriously, it costs money to keep our equipment and brave boys in uniform idle. We have nearly 900 unprofitable overseas outlets convenient to nearly every hot spot on the planet. Why not stir up foreign wars and hire out to keep them generating enough revenue to satisfy Sen. Paul and his colleagues that they are part of and not a drag on the Market.

Sure, that's perverse. But so is Mr. Paul's and his colleagues' view of what government for the people is about, and their insistence that You. Must. Be. A. Consumer. I'd rather be a citizen.

Aren't there special sunglasses for better picking out these zealots in a crowd?

Debate continues in the Senate today on amendments to whatever Obamacare repeal bill Republican priests are hiding under their cloaks:

Fed up with the GOP’s constant vacillations over how to dismantle Obamacare, Democrats say they will hold back on offering any more amendments in the health care floor fight until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shows what plan the GOP will ultimately coalesce around.

“Democrats are not going to participate in this one-sided and broken process,” announced Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Wednesday evening. “Once the majority leader shows his hand, reveals what his bill will actually be, Democrats will use the opportunity to try and amend the bill.”
"Democrats" includes independent Senator Bernie Sanders who expects to introduce Medicare-for-all legislation after the repeal debate ends.

Don't let up on those calls and faxes to the Senate or the illegitimi will carborundum.