Bread and Circus Politics

The masquerade is finally over: Democrats are finally coming out as the socialists they’ve always pretended not to be. Apparently they find it freeing—I find it refreshing. Americans might finally get a clear choice moving forward between undisguised socialism and free market capitalism.

Now there are nearly a dozen Democratic gubernatorial candidates openly calling for a universal healthcare, single payer system, pounding the lectern and insisting that, by God, insurance is a human right.

But I’ll tell you what it really is: bread and circus politics.

Promise the voters anything and everything in the hope of gaining power, the consequences be damned. How one actually pays for the universal healthcare is a minor inconvenience to these socialists in the great bending arc of history. Onward to glory, comrades. Until of course the bill comes due. Loosely quoting the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, socialism is great fun until you run out of other people’s money.

The sad fact here is just how fast they would spend other people’s money. The costs are staggering with universal healthcare: for a national, Medicare for all approach, it could cost up to $32.6 trillion in the first 10 years, overshadowing our already massive $20 trillion national debt.

At the state level, the costs are also sobering: California’s universal healthcare plan would cost $400 billion annually, or twice what California’s annual budget for everything is, including the newly formed Plastic Straw Stasi Division. In New York, people are being assured that yes, taxes would have to go up 156 percent, but have no fears, this will actually save money in the future. Question: have you ever in your life seen a government program that cost less or saved money? Me neither.

At the very heart of this universal healthcare plan is a falsehood that insurance somehow equals better care. That’s empirically untrue. In fact, we can see that in many places across the world, the quality of care actually goes down with universal healthcare.

Take Canada, for example. Between 1993 and 2017, the average wait to see a specialist more than doubled to from nine weeks to just over 21 weeks while the corresponding costs went up 40 percent. In England, the annual budget for the National Health Service (NHS) in 1998 was 60 billion pounds or $77,345100. In 2017 it was 124 billion pounds or $159,836,000. While costs have doubled over the last 20 years, there’s no corresponding increase in quality of life; life expectancy hasn’t gone up. Typically in universal healthcare systems you see health services more interested in efficiency, you see death panels, you see overworked nurses and doctors, and you see a lack of innovation. Do you see many people flying into England or Canada for surgeries? Didn’t think so.

Beyond the costs and the decrease in quality of care, universal healthcare would be a smash and grab policy hurting our younger generations. We would have to steal from the idealistic and sometimes, sadly, very stupid young but healthy (there are some blessings still to being a young American) to fund Americans who are their opposites in all of these respects.  When the young finally figure this out they’ll be facing a hopelessly mortgaged future exactly when many businesses will abandon their states. As in they got played for suckers. But onward, comrades, and all that.

Adding to the absurdity of it all is this concept of using the vehicles of Medicare and Medicaid for all. The socialists’ idea is to ride those two broken, corrupt, and nearly insolvent (at least with respect to Medicare) systems to socialist glory.

While it shouldn’t be a surprise that failing ideologies attach themselves to failing systems, it might surprise most people that in 2017 alone, Medicare and Medicaid combined made $141 billion in improper payments. But by all means, do tell me how glorious it would be to run $32.6 trillion into those broken systems. It’s almost as though the socialists and modern Democratic Party want to collapse our entire system of government and then offer Big Brother Government as the solution.

At some point, if Congress can’t or won’t tackle the root of the problem instead of simply throwing taxpayer dollars at broken corrupt systems like Medicare and Medicaid, it should at least do something to ease the pain of access to care—like allowing people to form associations and shop for insurance plans across state-lines anywhere in the country, potentially driving down premiums by 50 percent. There should be block grants for pharmaceuticals instead of forcing people to go through Medicare or Medicaid. People should have options to put money into savings accounts, spending their money as they see fit. Nonprofit hospitals should be compelled to have pricing and cost transparency. Let market forces go to work and I bet we’ll all be amazed at what will happen.

Photo Credit: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

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About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.