What the iPhone teaches about Obamacare.
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Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, July 12, 2013.
If you own an iPhone (or any smartphone for that matter) dig it out of your purse or pocket or pick it up from the cup holder of your car and look carefully at it. What you are holding is a real-world exhibit on the futility of big-government as embodied in Obamacare.
Allow me to explain.
If you travel outside the United States for even a day, one thing you will notice is the ubiquity of the iPhone (and by extension the smartphones that the iPhone spawned). One iPhone has been sold for every 22 human beings walking the Earth. The iPhone is a true sociological game-changer. From its advent there has emerged a worldwide collaboration that transcends language, religion, economic system, culture, political alliance and national boundary all toward the betterment of communication and access to information. Whatever it is you want to accomplish with your iPhone, much more likely than not “there’s an app for that.”
I use mine to pay bills, deposit checks, keep up with the American League West, control the teleprompter that I use for my Fox 51 TV commentaries, book airline travel, take credit card payments for my little photography sideline and listen to KTBB when I’m far away from East Texas.
My daughters do many more things with theirs, none of which are the same things that I do with mine.
That’s because no two iPhones are the same. Each is a custom creation for the particular needs of its particular owner. The iPhone democratized technology on an unprecedented scale and did so within the economic reach of darned near everybody.
I wish my dad had lived long enough to see and have an iPhone. He would have been absolutely fascinated and would have thought it miraculous.
But to the extent that the iPhone is miraculous, the technological leap that it represents doesn’t constitute the real miracle.
The real miracle is this: no one is in charge of it.
Yes, the device itself was designed and brought to market by a very large, publicly traded corporation with market capitalization approaching a half trillion dollars. But the device isn’t the story.
The story is the nearly one million examples of entrepreneurial enterprise from every corner of the globe that all have found their way to the “App Store.” The iPhone unleashed bottom-up creativity on an unprecedented scale.
None of this happened because of a Solyndra-like effort on the part of the government. In fact, even the most ardent big-government liberal would likely laugh at the idea of the federal government coming up with iPhone apps. After billions of dollars and endlessly missed deadlines and broken promises, the only available apps would for the purpose accessing federal benefits such as food stamps or to propagandize about “climate change”. There would likely be few, if any apps, that people would actually use.
If any government, or worse, collaboration of governments, had tried to conceive of the iPhone – and direct from a central bureaucracy the worldwide development of the hundreds of thousands of applications that do everything from play Donkey Kong to help diagnose heart disease – the whole effort would have collapsed in a giant quivering heap of wasted money, corruption, stifling regulation and massive dysfunction.
So, back to my original premise. What we learn from the success of the iPhone is that when it comes to innovation, the solving of problems and the advancement of prosperity, dispersed knowledge and division of labor in a free market greatly outperforms top-down command and control.
As that understanding applies to health care, the former is what gave us the world-leading innovation of the American health care industry. The latter has given us Obamacare, which the government now cannot figure out how to implement and that proponents now admit will not reduce costs.