Thursday, June 28, 2007

Michael Moore is the Happy Reaper

Very warm interview on CNBC, with Maria Bartiromo. He was affable, articulate, and witty. He wants:
1. drug companies to be regulated like public utilities

2. abolition of private health insurance, because they are loathe to pay benefits

3. government healthcare, like other industrialized countries, because it is better

I believe his heart is in the right place. But I also believe his suggestions, if implemented, will increase suffering and accelerate death in our country. Why?

1. the profit motive fuels innovation, finding creative and competitive ways to do more, or else do the same with less

2. the market meets individuals' varied demands and preferences better than a central planning bureaucracy. anyone ever try to get bread in a communist country, never mind healthcare?

3. i know people icanadians and brits who get inferior healthcare to us americans. to be fair, they spend much less per capita than we do

Private insurance companies are disincented to pay benefits, because that reduces profits. I believe the government is required to enforce all contracts, including those between insurance companies and beneficiaries. But it gets tangled--the tort lobby squeezes a lot of extra money out of insurance companies, and shares the millions they get with elected government officials who are disincented to enforce contracts.

Moore reminds me of Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, whose good nature and naivete, actually enable the Japanese War machine, without knowing it. I hope he is smart enough to learn that he is wrong.

UPDATE: David Gratzer, author of The Cure, is effectively refuting Moore's claims on CNBC. He talked about the shortage of doctors in Nova Scotia, and the lottery that families go through to see which few get to see the doctor.

From the Back Cover
"David Gratzer is a practicing psychiatrist who combines firsthand knowledge of medical practice in both his native Canada and the U.S. with an independent point of view and a rare capacity for lucid exposition of complex technical material. . . If you want a well-written, interesting yet authoritative and thorough account of what is wrong with medicine today and how to cure American health care, this is the book for you."

- Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate, Economics (from foreword to The Cure)

"The Cure is a must read for all students of health care policy. Dr. Gratzer correctly diagnoses the U.S. health care system's problems and proposes workable solutions to fix them. His ideas will help reign-in costs while, at the same time, preserve necessary incentives for quality-of-life enhancing innovations."

--John F. Cogan, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University

"David Gratzer's well written book should be in the reading list of anyone interested in health care reform. In five-sixths of the U.S economy, we look to markets as an organizing mechanism; in the one-sixth of the economy represented by health care, public policy has frustrated markets, with adverse consequences for cost, access, and quality. Gratzer's capitalist manifesto is a shot in the arm; with it, the much that's right with American health care can grow."

--R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School; and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

"The caduceus is an apt symbol for medicine, given the bureaucratic snake pit the American health care system has become. Dr. David Gratzer skillfully wields Occam's razor to shave away the Byzantine rhetoric and show us that the cure for health care comes in the simplest of formulas - free markets, less government meddling, and a healthy dose of capitalism."

--Governor Bill Owens, Colorado

"Dr. David Gratzer is uniquely qualified to diagnose and provide a treatment regimen for the US health care system's problems. In this book he performs this function for us, does it with his usual acumen and clarity. He leads us by the hand through the labyrinth of legal, institutional and regulatory events that brought to the point where, at least to some, we are in a health crisis that can only be solved by further movement away from the market and toward a universal centrally controlled system. He thoroughly debunks the notion we can improve the US health care system by becoming more like our neighbors to the North. After taking us there, he shows us why these same legal, institutional, and regulatory events are largely responsible for our predicament and that the popular solution of more of the same is not the answer. He convincingly demonstrates that the only way out is less regulation of, and more freedom for, the providers and customers of health care. This book should be read by anyone involved, or with the hope or potential to be involved, in determining health care policy."

--Tom Saving, Director, Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M University.

"Excellent addition to the emerging call for empowering patients rather than government bureaucrats with control of the health care dollar, written by someone with an expert view from the inside!"

--Scott W. Atlas, MD, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine

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