Childishness and sustainability

We’ve heard more than one person tell us that cost is no object when it comes to our basic right to health care. This is like saying that air is no object when it comes to breathing.

Cost always matters because scarcity is a fact of life. Scarcity is there whether the government “provides” health care or not. Now, some say that health care is so important that we must spare no expense in providing it. Looking beyond the obvious objection that this immorally sanctions us to raid our neighbor’s wallet, there simply isn’t enough wealth to continue on our present financial path (and the government is always busy with new regulations that harm future wealth-building). Medicare and Medicaid alone, using conservative estimates, are almost $50 trillion in debt. That’s way more than the U.S. can ever afford. Government revenues for 2009 are projected in the $2 trillion range. Every new dollar spent is a borrowed dollar.

I tell people this, they disregard it, and basically retort that it needs to happen anyway. Well, pigs need to be able to fly, too. These people are like a Party Boy who gets his paycheck and spends it all on a big blowout keg party. Never mind what’ll happen later when the landlord comes calling for the rent.

Despite all this talk about Medicare savings that has the elderly up in arms, Obamacare will on net add trillions to already unsustainable levels of spending. Its supporters aren’t calling for us to forgo anything to fund all this new spending, except for perhaps military expenditures. While I’m all for bringing the troops home, eliminating the entire military budget (not just war spending) saves around $500 billion dollars a year. Now, $500 billion is a lot of money, but the U.S. deficit is $1.5-$2 trillion this year alone. So even eliminating the entire military budget, which of course will never happen, doesn’t resolve the deficit or future liabilities. Financially, the bigger problem is entitlement spending– Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drugs. Most Obamacare supporters believe that these things are sacred, and now they want a massive new program added to the list.

Isn’t the denial of reality, the utter foolishness and childishness of this, obvious?

Let’s say there is a church that built a million-dollar sanctuary back during the boom years. The bust occurred, and now the congregation has lost jobs and tithing is half what it once was. The church can’t meet its commitments. What would any sane session do at this church? Would they vote to borrow money to add another wing? Would they tell the congregation that funding xyz ministry’s is so important that “cost is no object?” Of course not. They would instead cut costs to the bone. They would recognize their earlier foolishness and consider moving to a place the congregation can afford. There is no more important work than that done by a faithful church, but that doesn’t mean that every church has a “right” to a large sanctuary or an expensive ministry to the poor. It has a right to what it can afford. The faithful church works with God’s provision (Rev. 2:8-9).

And so it should be with health care. Any system must be sustainable. Otherwise its will eventually fall victim to severe rationing, just like Party Boy will end up eating ramen noodles and fighting eviction. The system may even fall apart completely. Given that scarcity is a fact of life, I would much prefer the efficiencies, quality, innovation, and sustainability that spring from free-market competition instead of the deficits and wastefulness of government. We want the computer industry, not the post office.

Sometimes I just want to shake people and tell them to stop acting like children. If the dollar collapses as a result of the unsustainable spending and debt, then the chickens will really come home to roost for all the people who’ve pushed and pushed to extend the government spending to unsustainable levels. They are contributing to a disaster greater than any problem they wanted to solve.

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