The Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare settles nothing. The debate over “access to quality healthcare” will continue ad nauseum.
Yet it need not. Health care shouldn’t be something that dominates political debate any more than computers, cell phones or movies-on-demand in our homes dominate political debate. (These three things have in common the fact that they are all better than they were five years ago and they are all less expensive.)
Taking just one of them, imagine if we had decided that everyone has a right to “access to quality data processing.” Imagine some federal bureaucracy thrusting a clunky, expensive and largely useless computer into every household. Imagine the fight over what software would be installed. On one side of the debate would be the entitlement crowd insisting that failing to install a thousand dollars worth of Adobe Photoshop (and failing to spec out the machine so that it would efficiently run Photoshop) would unfairly deny photography enthusiasts “access to quality digital photo editing.”
On the other side would be the fiscal hawks saying, “We can’t afford to put Photoshop on every computer in every household in America.”
The debate would never be satisfactorily resolved and we would therefore all have the same undifferentiated, highly mediocre and mostly unsuitable-for-our-particular-purposes computer.
Or instead consider the laptop computer upon which I composed this piece – the laptop that is ten times faster and half as expensive as the computer that it replaced (and has installed upon it all of the software that I want or need and none that I don’t).
The healthcare debate springs from the false premise that only the government can ensure “access” to health care. That is patently false. The more the government gets involved in health care, the more expensive (and thus scarce) it becomes.
When I was in high school computers existed but average people had no “access” to them because of their cost. Today nearly every school kid has a computer.
So ask yourself two questions. One, did the government do that or did the free market? And two, how is health care any different?