Thursday, August 25, 2011

Medical Free Markets

This is a very interesting post by Karl Smith:

Lack of jobs is why everyone feels bad, not because they have less or are poorer or the country isn’t producing or consuming as much. And, not to get to meta – in what I hope is an easily readable post – but an economy that makes lots of people feel bad is by definition a bad economy.

Moreover, the feeling that you have now about the economy is not the feeling of lack of value creation. Its not the feeling of socialism.

I wish I had more time to go into this because “what socialism feels like” is an important concept. However, my more conservative readers will may readily get the following example.

Have you ever been pissed off at the fact that your neighborhood school doesn’t teach any of the stuff you want and it feels like your kid is just wasting her valuable time going to all of these pointless classes for no reason. THAT, is what socialism feels like. That is what the lack of value creation feels like.

Its not that you are afraid of losing what you have or that budget constraints are pinching. Its that the stuff which is available to you sucks. It – in extreme cases – is a world where everyone has a job but where no grocery store has fresh milk. It’s a world where everyone gets a pay check but no one can find shoes that fit.

That is what socialism feels like. That is what government getting in the way of the market feels like. In many ways it’s the exact opposite of the way this feels.

Because you know I can’t resist: When you are waiting in your doctor’s office and she is 50mins late and proceeds to be rude to you and not give you “permission” to go buy the drug that you are dying to buy because its finally been “approved.” That’s what socialism feels like.

It is an important insight that much of the current crisis is not caused by excessive government intervention. Now, it could be true that we could get to a bad place with the addition of excessive government oversight, but I think it is fair to accept that we are not there yet.

That being said, I think the argument about seeing medical doctors (and how familiar this experience is in the US) should give us pause when we argue that the current medical system is free market. It isn't. It's also one of our few areas of growth (which Tyler Cowen sees as rent seeking areas absorbing the unemployed) which is also worth thinking about.

I wonder if we are asking the right questions about the long term?

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