Vermonzuela: A Progressive cheese that’s so progressive it winds up in your shopping cart without you asking for it, it’s price is
labeled “free”, and it tastes like the ashbin of history?
OK, so it’s not a real cheese.
In what can only be potentially great news for under-employed millennials here in the United States, Venezuela, a country demonstrating just how clever it is by nationalizing industries and implementing massive social welfare programs predicated on revenues flowing from just one commodity, is now taking steps to make its own citizens work in forced-labor camps.
In a scene that could only make such historical luminaries as Pol Pot, Mao Tse-Tung, and Stalin throw a party:
Nothing fixes a shortage of food like taking people out of their offices and putting them to work in the field, where they will surely create such a massive spike in productivity that prices will inevitably drop, as more food is grown and harvested more rapidly than before, simply by adding more resources to the same level of work. Even if said resources know absolutely zero about farming, harvesting, transporting, and selling produce of any kind. And might also be hungry.
This type of thinking has historical precedent. They’re called “famines”, and the Soviet Union wound up killing millions of people through starvation, based on forced collectivization. So did Mao in his Great Leap Forward Into Slaughtering Tens Of Millions.
So, for Venezuela to follow this same historical path just sounds like good science. Unfortunately, this same science is applied in Vermont, on a much smaller scale, with smaller impacts, but the basic premises are the same. Let’s take a look.
1. Single-payer: Price controls for Health Care: As has been called for by some single-payer proponents to make the system “work”, price controls essentially act as a cap on what can be charged for services. This means that either a) once the number of patients has been seen that gobbles up the budget through the cap limit for the year, no more patients can be seen, or b) you can continue to see patients, but they will only be able to offer reduced services in order to stay under the cap for the year. You can model this as a per-capita equation, estimating how many people a particular doctor might see based on historicals, but you are completely guessing as to what the real need will be (a big flu season, bad weather causing more accidents than normal, a flood, etc, would throw the budget into chaos). Odds are good that your variance to that capped budget will exceed the 3.5%-4.0% margin Vermont hospitals generally operate under, annually.
Getting the costs under control will require unprecedented changes in the health care delivery system itself. In the past, ties between elements of the health care system – doctors and hospitals – were limited. They competed with one another to a significant degree and that is still going on.
In the future, they will have to be integrated, tied together, both clinically and financially. The reimbursement system will have to shift from fee-for-service, which is a powerful incentive for overuse, to some sort of per capita financing, rather than financing per medical episode. And the doctors and hospitals will have to take “risk”; they will have to set a price for caring for a group of patients, and if they exceed it, the overage will come out of their pockets.
Right. And if the overage is more than what goes into their pockets, the practice shuts down – or at best, it starts rationing care in one form or
another. Or the doctor and staff start receiving salary cuts. Even though some of Davis’s arguments are logical, they fail, utterly, when compared as easily as he does to other industries. A car mechanic can turn away anyone he or she doesn’t want to work for; a hospital has to take care of the sick immediately, with the financing done later. That will mean the hospital will have a mix of payers, and some cover the costs, and some don’t. A cap on what you can spend per patient creates the incentives to do just what cost controls aren’t supposed to do – reduce the amount of care available. Davis actually states that the doctors will have to set a price – which you have to do either in the market, or in a government-mandated controls situation. Why is one OK but the other isn’t? Why would the inevitable reduction in the amount of care available be seen as a benefit?
Oh, and as for examples of price controls not working? See how Medicare and Medicaid’s reimbursements have been keeping up with actual costs. How’s that working out?
2. Venezuela banned GMOs. I seem to recall some Progressive efforts on this in Vermont recently, but let’s see how Venezuela’s doing:
The Seed Law seeks to consolidate national food sovereignty, regulate the production of hybrid seed, and rejects the production, distribution and import of GMO seeds, according to GMWatch. The law will also ban transgenic seed research.
The law will establish the National Seed System, a central body that will implement the new law. The group will monitor and sanction any agricultural violations, with a focus on the protection of traditional seeds, teleSUR reported.
The legislation, which comes after years of collective grassroots efforts, was promptly signed by Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
“Approval of the Seed Law was pending since last year after being proposed through a national dialogue process in 2013,” teleSUR reported. “Public consultations have sought popular input on the law, and campesinos [farmers] and environmental advocates have
long urged for its approval.”
Are these “environmental advocates” starving? Because it looks like the rest of the country is, so much so that they’re going to force people to work in labor camps to produce more food.
3. Venezuela Bans Private Gun Ownership in 2012: Not to be outdone, the Burlington, VT, city council banned guns from private ownership. Despite such niceties as the 2nd Amendment creating headaches for right-thinking city council members, Burlington, at least is choosing the same path to success and individual freedom as Venezuela.
History has no shortage of despots in one form or another banning the private ownership of guns, which obviously makes it easier to control your less-than-thrilled-with-you citizens. But it clearly sends a signal to Venezuelans that they’re subjects, not citizens, and the choices are being made for them, to them, instead of the people making their own choices for themselves.
Which is what markets, and ultimately freedom, are about. The more choices are removed, the less free you are.
Looks like Vermont and Venezuela have a lot more in common than I might have thought.