Simpson and Bowles, along with Buffett, were on CNBC this morning.
I was blown away, to be frank.
What I just heard was this: If we don’t address the cost of health care we’re finished.
All the while Bloomberg is publishing opinion pieces that say this:
The arc of history suggests that eventually Americans will accept the right to health care. It appears that the country is continuing its path of two steps forward, one step backward, in establishing a higher bar of essential services for its citizens. Time has shown that this progress is not only good for individuals, but will serve the needs of American business, as well.
A “right” to health care?
Rights are something God gives you (or Darwin, if you prefer.) That is, they’re unalienable.
But a right is a positive thing. Your exercise of a right cannot impose a price on someone else. That is, you have a right to life, but you cannot force someone else to pay for the food necessary to sustain that life.
These two points appear to be in conflict, but they are not. That you have a right does not mean you can infringe someone else’s rights. Once you lose respect for this foundational principle then you in fact have no rights at all!
Consider this in the mundane example. I have a right to life. I am hungry. Very hungry. I am standing outside your home at 2:00 AM. I require fuel for my body. Your refrigerator has fuel for my body contained within it.
If I am not required to respect your private property, that is, my “right to life” is absolute, then I am empowered, under your very standards, to break into your home and steal your food!
Think about that one folks, because that’s the debate in a nutshell.
I’ve been beating on the health care drum now since the debate began, because even a cursory analysis of the budget numbers for the government disclose that we can deal with virtually every other area of the federal budget with reasonable adjustments.
We cannot when it comes to health care.
The fact of the matter is that a 9.3% compound growth rate ($53 billion in 1980 to ~$820 billion last year) means that federal health spending doubles every 7 years and change. We can’t continue doing that folks. We must stop now, because by 2020 this will add another $800+ billion per year to the federal budget.
Not $800 billion over 10 years, $800 billion per year, or some $4 trillion over the entire period.
We don’t have the money. Note that from 2008-2012 we added $5 trillion, roughly, in additional federal debt. Federal health spending alone is going to add that much again to federal debt between now and 2020 even if we do not spend one additional dime on one program anywhere else in the federal budget, and then between 2020 and 2027 we will attempt to add roughly $8 trillion more beyond that!
Politicians don’t want to deal with this nor do the political parties but we have to deal with it. This is arithmetic folks, not politics. It isn’t going to happen because it can’t happen. We must stop this now whether we want to or not.
The entire rest of the debate on the budget and taxes is truly immaterial if we do not focus on this area of the problem and fix it. I started writing on this area of the budget in earnest when the Health Care debate began; you can use the archives to go back and read all the articles in this area, from the earliest forward, and you should.
Because as far as I know they’re the only plans and debate in the public view that actually address the root cause of the issue and put a cork in it — here, now, today in a verifiable and workable way.
Yes, fixing this will piss off a lot of powerful people and companies, just as will putting a stop to the corruption in the banking and financial sector. But in this case if we don’t address it, and do so now, our federal government and economy will collapse.
That’s not speculation or “doom-mongering.”