Listen to the introduction of this topic on Newstalk 600 KTBB Friday morning, October 12. You Tell Me segment, Friday October 12
I recently visited two Tyler post offices. The goal seemed simple. Get a Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope, affix the appropriate postage and drop the envelope in the collection box. Yes, it was Columbus Day and the post office was closed. But who cares? I didn’t need the services of a postal clerk. I had the postage on me. All I needed was the approved envelope.
In both the south Broadway post office and the downtown post office on Erwin, there are racks that are supposed to contain the various forms (including Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes) necessary to mail a letter. In both cases, the racks were absolutely empty.
There is a stamp vending machine on the wall in the downtown post office. It, too, was empty. Frustrated patrons have written notes on the “out of service” signs practically begging someone to restock it. One note mentions “2 months” although there’s no way of knowing how long ago that note was penned. (See the photo above.)
There is an “Automated Postal Center” in the downtown post office – a sort of postal ATM – from which you are supposed to be able to purchase postal services.
It was inoperative.
Thus, on a Monday afternoon in Tyler, Texas, in two post offices visited within minutes of each other, it was not possible to complete the simplest transaction.
In a stunning clash of cultures, outside most post offices you now find a FedEx collection box. The box is visited for about five harried minutes every business day by a driver who is on an unbelievably tight schedule. Yet, if you open the “Supplies” door on that FedEx box you will find airbills, envelopes, boxes – everything you need to do business with FedEx – irrespective of the day or time that you visit.
By way of contrast, Lord only knows how many postal employees work eight hour shifts in each of the two post offices that I visited. Yet none of them can be bothered to restock the supply racks and the vending machines.
FedEx keeps their collection boxes stocked because if they don’t, they know I’ll go to DHL or UPS. The postal service doesn’t bother to stock their post offices and keep their machines working because I have no choice when it comes to sending things through the mail.
But, as the headline suggests, this post isn’t about the postal service. I point out the staggering indifference of the postal service solely for the purpose of raising giant red flags and sounding loud klaxon warnings regarding the very idea of government-run “universal health care.”
If the government is the sole provider of your health services in the same way that it is the sole provider of postal services, do you really believe that the service you receive regarding your health will be any better than the service you receive when visiting a post office?
If you believe the answer is yes, what is the basis for your belief? Is it based on the experiences this year of hundreds of thousands of travelers trying (mostly in vain) to get passports in time to comply with new Mexico and Canada border regulations? Is it based on your experience dealing with the Social Security Administration or the IRS?
Consider your interaction with any agency of government, particularly the federal government, and think about it in the context of your life depending on it. Imagine yourself with an acutely ill child as you come face-to-face with the medical equivalent of a postal employee.
Right now, if your doctor is unresponsive to your needs or if the hospital nearest your home doesn’t offer the services you need (or if you don’t like the parking garage or if you hate the food in the cafeteria), you are free to go elsewhere. The hospitals in this market know that and compete with each other hammer and tong for your patronage. If you don’t believe it, just listen to almost any commercial break on any of my radio stations.
In a government-run, single-payer system, some government drone is going to act as a gatekeeper with respect to your access to medical care. You’ll get the care that is allocated to you based on some government-approved evaluation and some (probably mind-numbing) application process. Under “universal health care” one seventh of the U.S. economy will be without the chastening effect of the competition that compels FedEx to replenish their customer supplies while the postal service blithely ignores the pleas of its customers to do the same thing.
Think your employer’s insurance carrier is prickly and bureaucratic when it comes to approving procedures and paying claims? Wait until that individual is an unaccountable, union-cosseted employee of the U.S. government.
The proponents of “universal health care” will trot out all sorts of promises and 10-point programs designed to allay your innate fear of turning over something as important as your health care to an agency of the government. Don’t be fooled. After the ink dries on the bill and the real-world implementation begins, the staffing of this massive government endeavor will result in the mass hiring of the same class of employees who can’t stir themselves to put stamps in a vending machine.
Our health care system needs help. Actually, that’s not true. The quality of care in the U.S. is the envy of the world. It’s the financial model by which we pay for it that needs help.
What to do to fix that financial model is the subject of another post.
What not to do about health care in America is to consign all responsibility for it to a massive agency of the very same federal government that cannot issue a passport in a timely fashion or put postal forms in a rack.