Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

ObamaCare: Big Business vs. Capitalism by Robert Bidinotto

When many people rail against "capitalism," they are attacking the economic status quo in America today, which they mistakenly believe is "capitalism."

But capitalism is actually a free market system, where government is not involved in business, or vice-versa -- where companies must compete openly and freely, without the government playing favorites or helping some industries at the expense of others.

By that definition, what we have today is emphatically not capitalism. It is "corporatism," the soft label for the economic system pioneered in Mussolini's Italy. No, it is not socialism, where government formally owns all significant businesses. Rather, it is fascism, an economic system in which nominal "ownership" of business is left in private hands, but real control of all aspects of business is held in government hands.

That is the system we are headed for in America, manifested clearly in the current effort to pass ObamaCare.

Consider this article from the Sept. 25, 2009 Wall Street Journal, which shows exactly what I mean. It demonstrates how many businesses, especially larger corporations, are lining up behind ObamaCare, because it will give them access to millions of new customers, while shielding them from the rigors of a competitive marketplace. The idea of a government-dominated health-care system doesn't bother them in the least -- as long as the government is using the force of law to benefit them.

Specifically, many major insurance companies and the big pharmaceutical manufacturers are enthusiastically backing ObamaCare. Why? Because the "individual mandate" will force tens of millions of people who are currently uninsured to become their paying customers. They are salivating at the prospect of the federal government conscripting customers for them. The billions of dollars this will bring them in an ongoing windfall will, they believe, more than offset the downsides of their loss of independence -- of becoming, in essence, high-paid civil servants, working in companies that have become transformed into the medical equivalent of public utilities.

For the same reason, you do not see anyone -- least of all the insurance lobby -- signing on to GOP proposals to open up nationwide competition among insurers in various states. Right now, many state laws allow insurance companies within the states to be protected from outside competitors, limiting the number of insurers that consumers can choose among within a given state. This allows those insurers to operate as an oligopoly, keeping their insurance prices artificially high -- almost as if they were operating behind walls of protective tariffs.

What excuses do big businesses offer for this transparently anti-capitalist behavior? The time-tested "morality" of self-sacrifice, for one thing. Observe at the end of the linked article the quotation from a lobbyist for "Big Pharma": "If health-care reform is going to be successful, it will require a shared sacrifice. . ." Advocates of coercion always rhapsodize about the glories of "sacrifice" -- but only when they are on the receiving end of the sacrifices of others.

This past week, I received a mailing from my "Blue Dog" Democrat congressman, extolling his efforts to expand, under ObamaCare, the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which passed five years ago under the Bush administration. The mailing is meant to seduce seniors, the group most opposed to ObamaCare; it promises "to improve Medicare without making seniors pay more." Well, if seniors don't pay the increased costs, who will? The taxpayers, of course.

The propaganda piece carries this attribution: "Paid for by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America."

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