I just finished reading Bill Maher's stupid article "Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit." The poor moron thinks that just because something is done for profit that it is evil or must lead to bad results (1). He states that health care should not be run for profit.
SO I thought to myself, what is more important than health care? What is more critical to our health? I quickly answered myself: food care. Many of us can go decades through life without ever needing to see a doctor or need medical care; food on the other hand we need every day. So food care is one thing that the government should get involved in. I'm not saying food should be free, but rather that there should be a government option to the supply of food.
For example, next August my family (eight of us) will be in Walt Disney World Resorts for 11 days during which time we will be using Disney's new Dining Plan where for about $43 per day we will have our dinners, breakfasts, and snacks prepaid. Whether we eat or not, at the end of the stay, unused meals expire.
Not everyone can afford private food care, so we should have something similar to the Disney Plan, but affordable for everyone. In fact, everyone would be required to have food insurance or face stiff penalties. It wouldn't be right for someone not to pay into the system and then when they are starving expect the government to pay for it.
Before you go knocking the idea, it already exists. Or I should say it existed in Poland in 1968. During the summer of 1968 my brother Pete, a college buddy named Bill, and I went traveling through Europe. In August we arrived in Poland and found that the private rate of exchange for dollars was 20 times more than the official bank rate. Instead of exchanging our dollars for złotys at the exchange rate of 24 to 1, we received almost 500 złotys. To put it into perspective, a hotel room cost us only $3 a night (instead of $60) and a dinner cost perhaps 50 cents (instead of $10).
Sorry for the digression.
On our first day in Poland we went to a government-run restaurant which seemed to be almost completely empty even though it was lunch hour. We sat down, looked at the menu, and picked a few items for lunch. Here's the conversation (I ordered in Polish, which I speak quite well, but translated for my readers):
Me: I'd like to try the pork chops.
Waiter: We're out of that.
Me: Um, OK, how about the roast duck?
Waiter: We ran out of that this morning.
Me: Well then, what would you suggest?
Waiter: We have lots of things, pick something from the menu.
Me: Hmmm. Do you have cheese pierogies? [Photo]
Waiter: I don't think there are any left.
Me: Kiełbasa with fried onions, then? [Photo]
Me: What do you have?
Waiter: Pick something.
Me: (faster) Gołąbki with potatoes? [Photo]
Waiter: Shakes head no.
Me: (even faster) Please tell me what you have?
Waiter: Nods impatiently at menu.
Me: (with one eye squinting) Potato Latkes? [Photo]
Waiter: Yes, how many orders?
Me: (hopefully) Three?
And so this is how the government option works. The waiter is not allowed to admit that the government-run restaurant is almost completely out of products to serve. Why so low on food? Because the farmers refuse to sell meat, dairy and vegetable produce to the government at the prices the government sets.
The next day we met up with my Polish cousins and we went out to eat at a private-run restaurant. There was a line about 40 people deep to get in. When we got to our table we looked at the menu and I asked my cousin to help me select since I didn't want to go through another long, drawn out process. She said order whatever I like. I said, "Yeah right." But she insisted. To my surprise, everything on the menu was available.
When the government runs out of butter, their restaurants have no butter. When private (for profit) restaurants start getting low on butter, the owner goes out and buys the butter and pays whatever it takes to get it.
Government Food is Cheaper - if You can Get it
I will admit that the government restaurant was three times cheaper than the private one. The argument will be offered that there are lots of people who cannot afford to eat at expensive restaurants. So I suppose if you are happy eating only potato pancakes then government-run restaurants are great.
Some socialist morons like Bill Maher will look at the food situation in Poland at that time and complain that the problem is that someone is making a profit serving food, an essential item, and that the solution would have been to only have government-run restaurants. But because he is a very stupid person, Bill does not understand that there were only government-run restaurants after the Communists took over and because those didn't work, they had to allow private ones to spring up. Private, for-profit restaurants are the solution, not the problem.
Health Care in America is the best despite all efforts by government to hobble it. Medicaid and Medicare have driven health care costs through the roof. The problem is not for-profit health care, but free health care.
Canada and the UK now allow their citizens to go to private clinics because their public health care systems are failing (2). That's right - these countries now find that for-profit medical systems are needed to fix their great experiment in socialized medicine.
I've seen government-run food care, I shudder to think what choices I will have picking items from a government-run health care menu.
Huffington Post, New Rule: Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit
But like everything else that's good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they're run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They're not hospitals anymore; they're Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America's largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it's not a right, it's a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they're always pushing the Jell-O.
Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like "recision," where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you've been paying into your plan for years.
When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what's in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
If conservatives get to call universal health care "socialized medicine," I get to call private health care "soulless vampires making money off human pain." The problem with President Obama's health care plan isn't socialism, it's capitalism.
NY Times, 28 Feb 2006, Canada's Private Clinics Surge as Public System Falters
The Cambie Surgery Center, Canada's most prominent private hospital, may be considered a rogue enterprise.
Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years before receiving treatment.
But no one is about to arrest Dr. Brian Day, who is president and medical director of the center, or any of the 120 doctors who work there. Public hospitals are sending him growing numbers of patients they are too busy to treat, and his center is advertising that patients do not have to wait to replace their aching knees.
The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.
Dr. Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.
"We've taken the position that the law is illegal," Dr. Day, 59, says. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years."