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Archive for October 15th, 2012

Paul Krugman assured us back in 2009 that, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”

If that’s the case, then the British press is filled with liars who deliberately make up horror stories about their nation’s healthcare system, as you can see here, here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.

We now have another nightmare to add to this list. Here are some of the horrific details from the UK-based Daily Mail.

An elderly woman died alone after doctors failed to tell relatives they were ending her life on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway. Olive Goom, 85, passed away with no one by her side after medics neglected to consult with her family about her treatment at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. …As Miss Goom lay dying alone, staff reassured relatives on the phone just hours before her death that there was no urgent need to visit – even though doctors had already removed tubes providing vital food and fluids. Her family discovered that she had died only when her niece went to visit her and found she was already being prepared for the mortuary. They said last night that they will never be able to stop feeling guilty that no one was there in her final hours. The Mail has been contacted by several families who claim that relatives were put on the Liverpool Care Pathway – the controversial system designed to ease the suffering of the dying in their final hours – without any consultation. Some said they found out that their relatives were on the pathway only after they happened to read their medical notes; and by that time it was too late.

Keep in mind, by the way, that the Liverpool Care Pathway is sort of akin to the IPAB “death panel” in Obamacare.

Defenders of government-run healthcare say that’s nonsense and assert that there won’t be any rationing, denial of care, or requirements for euthanasia. That’s technically true, but the Obamacare death panel will be determining what’s an acceptable treatment and what’s the government-approved payment schedule.

Crushed by Obamacare?

So it’s sort of like holding a rock in your hand, standing over a kitten, letting go of the rock, watching it hit the kitten, but then claiming that you did nothing wrong because gravity caused the rock to fall.

Okay, that’s a morbid example, but you get the point. And my concern isn’t that rationing only exists with a government-run system. Any healthcare system will involve rationing. The real issue is whether individuals are part of a free society so they can make the choice of how to ration.

(h/t: Ben Domenech)

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Sometimes it’s no fun to be an economist. Or, to be more specific, it’s rather frustrating to understand Bastiat’s insight about the “seen” and the “unseen” and to always be asking “at what cost?” and “to what effect?” when politicians make inane statements.

The GM bailout is a good example. Politicians want us to believe that it was a success because the company is still in business. Heck, the Vice President’s favorite campaign statement is that “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive

But if you’re the type of person who recognizes the importance of tradeoffs and incentives, then it’s easy to see how a political success can be an economic failure. Which is the message of this new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation.

This is music to my ears. I’ve been saying for years that any company can be kept afloat indefinitely with taxpayers subsidies. So if that’s the definition of success, we can party until we hit the fiscal brick wall. But that wall won’t feel good, as we can see from the fiscal chaos in Greece and other European welfare states.

But this issue involves more than just inefficient subsidies. I’m also concerned about the corruption that inevitably exists when cronyism replaces capitalism.

It’s quite likely, after all, that GM is spending lots of money on the Chevy Volt because of pressure from Washington rather than demand from consumers. And when you have a car company executive endorsing higher gas taxes, it’s reasonable to think that he’s currying favor with the political masters in DC rather than looking out for the best interests of drivers.

The GM bailout may be a win-win situation for politicians and lobbyists, but it’s a lose-lose proposition for taxpayers and the economy.

P.S. If you want some auto bailout humor, here’s a spoof on the Chevy Volt, an advertisement for the new GM Obummer, a couple of good political cartoons, and a very funny video on the Pelosi GTxi SS/RT.

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