But people like this need to realize that this isn't some grand experiment. We're not dealing with hypotheticals here. When policies like this are put in place, real children--ones with real hopes and dreams and fears--are made to suffer. Some even die.
I used to think the same thing. Given the media coverage, it’s easy (very easy) to paint this as a shameless effort to put the needs of large fat men with bags of money for heads before children’s health. But to be contrarian, I think A.L. is missing the point. Like so many others, A.L. needs to develop a more sophisticated view of markets. Understanding how markets work will help everyone understand why Bush’s policies actually make sense. A tough pill, 'tis true. But don't blame me - blame the laws of economics.
To help this process along, I’m pasting below the fold a pamphlet that taught me everything I know about markets and children’s health. It’s written as a Q & A dialogue, which I found a bit annoying, but it’s informative nonetheless.
MARKETS FOR IDIOTS – HOW THEY WORK, WHY THEY WORK
Q. Mr. GiantMoneyBagForHead, I don’t understand why the administration opposes health care for children.
A. A typically naive understanding. You just don’t understand markets.
Q. Markets . . . What are they?
A. Furry four-legged creatures that live underground – holler dwellers.
Q. I had heard different.
A. They are quite shy though, so it’s important to coax them out of their hiding places.
Q. Why would we do that?
A. Because Little Johnny, markets excrete a sweet elixir when they emerge. The elixir cures virtually any problem it comes into contact with.
Q. Sounds great – how do we coax them out?
A. Pheromones, Johnny, pheromones. They have great sense of smells, markets. We need to stimulate the production of pheromone called Demand. When markets smell Demand, they come scurrying out, releasing their sweet elixir.
Q. Ok, so how do children fit in?
A. Simple. Sick children emit high levels of Demand. Not as much as dead children, but it’s still quite high. It’s important to maximize that Demand.
A. The more sick children, the more Demand.
Q. My cousin had a pre-existing condition – he was really sick, so he must have been emitting a ton of Demand.
A. Exactly – markets are particularly competitive and well-developed for children with pre-existing conditions. Again, it’s because their Demand levels are so high. They just come running when they smell it.
Q. Do markets ever not respond to Demand?
A. That’s an abstract hypothetical Johnny. I want you to focus on the real world.
Q. And what about stressed, crying parents?
A. They too are excellent sources of Demand, particularly unemployed ones.
Q. So the sick children stimulate the Demand, and then markets emerge to fix the problem?
A. Now you’re getting it.
Q. So by giving them free health care, we’re actually hurting them, right? Because the markets will just stay in their holes?
A. Precisely, markets may be counterintuitive, but they’re never wrong.
Q. And if we really wanted to help everyone, we would abolish all public health care.
A. Now you’re thinking like an economist!
Q. But I keep hearing that poorer working people don’t have health care. Doesn’t everyone emit Demand?
A. Yes they do Johnny. It’s just that some Demand is more potent than others. People with less money emit lower levels of Demand – usually because they’re bad people.
Q. So it takes more of them to get a market out of its hole?
A. Precisely. A lot more.
Q. How come this all works out so perfectly.
A. It’s the natural order of things. Markets are God’s plan for us – those cute furry buddies are ingrained in the very structure of the universe, much like the laws of physics.
Q. This has all been very helpful. Thanks Mr. GiantMoneyBagForHead
A. Just remember this above all else – decisions about a person’s life and health should be made on a for-profit basis. It is the First Principle.