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The reason "the rest of us" aren't free

The purpose of government policy, especially healthcare reform, is to maintain high prices at the expense of freedom.

by James Leroy Wilson
November 5, 2009

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The reason "the rest of us" aren't free

I saw it several times in Mexican restaurants in Chicago.

Boys and girls of preteen or early teen years taking orders and working the cash register in the evening.

I had no doubt they were the children of the owners. I don't know if there was an "offspring in a family-owned business exemption" to child labor laws. Even if there wasn't, no one seemed interested in cracking down on such places.

Maybe regulation enforcers just look the other way when it comes to family operations, and they should. But the double standard is maddening. The injustice is that the labor market has cut off other children who are willing to work. There should be freedom for immigrant family businesses, but why isn't there freedom for the rest of us?

I know a widowed, retirement-age woman who was harassed by inspectors for making home-made jam for sale. Something was not x feet away from something else, as regulation required. Yet inspectors looked the other way when the nearby Amish sold home-made food in far less sanitary conditions.

I pointed out the unfairness is not that the Amish themselves were not also harassed for their innumerable code violations. The Amish should be free to sell to anyone who wants to buy from them. The injustice was that this friend was denied the same right. My friend, and two others who were in the conversation, agreed. There should  be freedom for the Amish, but why isn't there freedom for the rest of us?

The reason the "rest of us" aren't free is that, if we were, the nation would see greater productivity, lower prices, and almost no unemployment (because there would be no barriers to work).

But this would mean employees, who are now protected by wage and union laws, would lose their high wages. And businesses who already have low profit margins per item sold would have to lower their prices. Politically, the people demand high wages because they believe their job - any job - should support a family with a house in the suburbs. And our current business model depends on high prices. Instead of raising funds from investors, many businesses today start and expand their businesses through borrowing. When the market forces a drop in their prices, their profit is eliminated and they can no longer pay interest. When prices and wages are high, lenders get back their interest and mortgage payments. When prices fall, business go broke and people lose their jobs. They all default on their loans. And therefore the banks go broke.

This system of high wages, high prices explains the Golden Age of Big Government, Big Finance, Big Corporation, and Big Union that flourished for 25 years, from the late 1940's through the early 1970's. But it couldn't last forever, as industrious peoples such as the Germans and Japanese started to compete with American products in the global marketplace. Suffering loss of market share, the Big Corporation began to wonder why should a factory job support a family in the suburbs, when the job itself was so simple that a third-world child could do it. So the third-world child eventually began to do it, and the system crumbled a little. But it still attempted to maintain its integrity as government (including the military-industrial complex),  the service sector, and financial sector began providing more jobs at home that couldn't be filled by people in other countries. The Bailout and Stimulus packages are the latest attempts to keep the system of high wages and high prices afloat.

But the recently-proposed Healthcare Reform bills best represent this. It appears the main purpose behind such bills is to prevent bankruptcies caused by healthcare expenses. Better everyone pay a little more, and some to lose their lives, than have the banks lose a lot by more defaults. The government has always attempted to keep the price of medical care high. This is part of its "high prices, high wages" mentality.

The constraints on medicine explain why the "rest of us" aren't free.

Art Carden says it best in "Common Objections to Capitalism:"

Consider the discrepancy between reality and the logic of regulation. You can pay a price of zero for information from a friend or relative, and you are free to treat your children using folk wisdom and home remedies. However, you aren't allowed to pay a positive price for health care provided by someone who has some expertise but not expertise of the quantity and quality demanded by regulatory and licensing bodies.

Here again I borrow from Walter Block: it's like a regulation saying you can only buy Armani suits or luxury cars. I don't see why we shouldn't be allowed to have health care Hondas.

Yet we're not allowed health care Hondas. No one can "practice medicine" without a license. A gifted but troubled high school drop-out - a "Good Will Hunting" type, could have mastered all the medical textbooks and journals, and then went on to study all the non-traditional remedies. Still, he wouldn't be allowed to charge for his insights. As long as he doesn't misrepresent his degrees and qualifications, why shouldn't he?

He "shouldn't" because, having no medical school loans to pay, he could underprice the competition. That's the "crime." Never mind the fact that he could serve a lot more poor clients at much lower prices.

The "rest of us aren't free" for much the same reason. It may be politically incorrect for Chicago regulators to crack down on immigrant businesses. It is certainly in bad taste to force the Amish to conform to codes. And it seems there are religious exemptions, here and there, in the healthcare reform bills. But for the present system to stay afloat, the rest of us must pay up, no matter the cost in money, lives, or freedom.

Healthcare reform is about keeping prices high - and forcing Americans as individuals and taxpayers to pay more for less. The ultimate purpose is not to help the patient in the doctor's office, or in the hospital bed, or in the operating room. The ultimate purpose is instead to provide a leak-fix to keep the present economic system - meaning the banking system - afloat.

 Healthcare reform is designed to make sure the serfs remain serfs and the rich remain rich.

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