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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Greeley's Thunderhead on Frog-Walking Conservative Democrats

A guest posting, written over the course of the last few months as the nations law makers bicker over health care, by the Greeley blogger Thunderhead. Thunderhead describes the legislative fallout of first giving the insurance industry the power to ignore antitrust legislation after WWII, for valid reasons, and now, three-quarters of a decade later, removing from the current House bill on healthcare reform the language which would have terminated such an advantage for the insurance industry.

Article 1 by Thunderhead

For health care reform in the congress, a hidebound Republican Party is frog-walking conservative democrats away from the establishment of single-payer policies. As unemployment numbers stretch into the multi-millions, as the dollar undergoes devaluation, as more American work is outsourced by chasing cheap labor-gradients around the world, we’re just going to have to take Bush’s advice and buy that health insurance savings account after all. You remember…the republican solution to health care?

Instead of repealing insurance mandates and anticompetitive legislation, the Senate Finance Committee’s reform of health insurance does nothing to lower health care costs. In fact, competition is inhibited to support existing monopolistic and cartel formation. The Finance Committee’s policy-making elite relies upon the continued abandonment of federal antitrust enforcement to further the erosion of competition; it also ensures that the industry’s captive customer base undergoes additional harm from systematic denial of vital medical services in support of corporate/investor profits.

Let us ask our health insurance agents: “What percentage of my spouse’s health and of my children’s health should be subject to profit-taking?”

But why must we now advocate for competition? While competition is the health of our economic system most businesses, large or small, given the chance, will seek to eliminate it; competition protects the life of the economy and requires constant vigilance by congress. It is not true that free markets self-regulate; unrestrained, undisciplined markets are deregulated markets that hinder rivalry and rush toward monopolization—toward anti-business and the brute-force application of corporate economic might alone--wiping out competition and consumer choice along a trail of fraud and deceit. Government, the necessary evil, provides the proper restraint, discipline, regulation and enforcement which makes an economy work for everyone, the poor, the middle-class, and the wealthy.

The Transition Report on Competition Policy compiled by the American Antitrust Institute states: that “…competition is the preferred regulator of business behavior.” The conclusion is undeniable--competition lowers costs. Competition is the market’s equivalent of natural selection. Bailouts are indicators that congress, over several administrations, failed to maintain competition in our markets. The aggregate of coincidence, folks, points to intent. Look to congressional PAC funding to see theirs.

By refusing to invest the health insurance industry with competition the Senate Finance Committee publicly demonstrates that it has no interest in improving health care by controlling costs. Instead, the Finance Committee is perpetuating a monopolized health insurance market.

Competition, essential to economists from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman, is now portrayed, through blustering media repetition, as a radicalized Bolshevik notion since it comes to a monopolized insurance market by means of “infused” competition via public option, that is, by government—the only entity large enough to compete with monopolization. Thus the Finance Committee will not place competition at the feet of an insurance industry which begs, by policies harmful to its customers, for regulation.

The 60 member democratic majority is, in part, complicit with the shrinking ranks of the republicans in forging a bill unpalatable to the public. All things considered, much of the Senate simply cares more about the relationships they’ve forged with large corporations. Their word, commitment and pride, is vested in those who pay to get them elected and re-elected.

Yet you have to wonder why they are not upfront about the wretched truth of their policies. The exertion of extraordinary corporate influence on congress is the most fundamentally obvious example of conflict of interest, anywhere. It is what happens when congress understands the natural human weakness to accept bribery then sanctifies it with legality. How do we think it will turn out?

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