In the 3/3/2005 edition of USA Today (sorry, no link), we see an interesting statement: “For the past quarter-century, the American Medical Association and other industry groups have predicted a glut of doctors and worked to limit the number of new physicians.” Further down, the story notes “Congress controls the supply of physicians by how much federal funding it provides for medical residencies – the graduate training required of all doctors”.
The story goes on to deliver the shocking news that the prediction of a doctor glut wasn’t quite accurate, and that thanks to that work to limit the number of new physicians, we’ve got a shortage now.
Jesus, didn’t these guys learn anything from the failure of the Soviet Union? Those Five Year Plans didn’t work. You can’t predict with any accuracy the total amount of anything that the whole country’s going to need.
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said that health care was too important to leave up to the free market. That makes about as much sense as saying that passenger airline flights are too important to leave up to Bernoulli’s Principle. The alleged importance of health care isn’t going to make bureaucratic controls on the supply of doctors work any better than bureaucratic controls on the supply of steel, nor is it going to magically endow Congressmen or bureaucrats with the superhuman intelligence needed to get a better answer than millions of people acting on undistorted price signals would arrive at.
And remember when you find your medical bills going up, and your wait to see a doctor gets longer, that your government took deliberate action to reduce the number of doctors as part of its ongoing effort to protect you from the cruel free market. Be sure to show your appreciation next election day.