“Access, Access, Access” Rick Perry repeated to Bret Baier. It seemed a grilled candidate’s non sequitur to Baier’s question: weren’t many Texans uninsured? But I was struck by its truth. Insurance is of little use if no doctors take it, no medicine is available, deductibles and premiums are unmanageable. Positive rights – to food, to medicine, to jobs – are not rights. The theory never stands up to experience.
Perry’s run was brief; now, his task is encouraging access to energy – of all kinds. Trump seemed an example of excess – still is, I guess. But a nation not just energy independent but energy dominant is one empowered, free. And we can free others: a Europe not beholden to Russian oil is a healthier Europe. Neither Trump nor Perry invented fracking nor could Obama stop its success. But this administration respects it, clears the way for its natural flow.
Access, access, access – how much does access to energy change our lives each day? How many are alive today because of access to energy forms unknown or at least unused 300 years ago? (Without air conditioning, I would have left my husband years ago. Then, again, he might have come with me.) Consider, though, the other extreme: we would be shocked to hear of elderly couples found frozen in the depth of winter, not uncommon in other times and places. How much more food is generated because of cheap energy? How broadly is food distributed?
We know the maxims often forgotten by our betters in Washington:
1) If you want cheap prices, produce more; if you want high prices, limit production.
2) If you want cheap prices, free the market; if you want high prices (or less access if prices are subsidized) give the government control.
Access drives down costs, goads the health profession to better service. More doctors, more clinics, more devices, and more engagement with patients’ needs: in short, access creates a more effective, altruistic perspective in the provider and a more responsible one in the consumer of health services.
As we learned in south Texas, access happens when external burdens are lifted. Not buried by malpractice insurance, doctors returned and access increased. Any entrepreneur takes risks. A government lean, fair, protective of private property and contracts will not ensure success but offers some predictability. Crony capitalism and graft are lead and fog to an entrepreneur, expense and shoddy merchandise to a consumer. Access disappeared in the VA hospital scandal, but that is not surprising. Rationing (and shoddiness), graft and corruption accompany an overbearing state.
While the opponents of the Republican health bill are many (and the Republicans hardly united), discussions by its proponents also often miss the point of why Americans objected to Obamacare and why it was not a good fit for us – with our traditions, our beliefs and our understanding of human nature.
I’m no expert in business, insurance, medicine, or governmental policy, but I feel gratitude for the benefits of the last centuries, ones that came from the openness of markets, the scientific method, cheap energy. These benefits paralleled America’s growth from a few states hugging the eastern shore to an important power that lent its power thrice in the twentieth century to aid Europe.
And, as a consumer who lived through a chunk of the last century, I’m stunned we haven’t all learned from the good examples as well as the bad. When Warren and then Sanders declared that we need a one-payer system, Republicans in Congress should have felt a chill up their spines – and, reminded of the alternative, bent to work.
So should voters. Certainly I felt that chill. Little in the pipeline will extend my life. But a healthier, free market medical system is likely to improve the lives of my children and grandchildren. Nor do I want the government making decisions for them, life and death decisions, that should be theirs.
Access: to medicine, markets, communication. The “can do” spirit matched with the test of whether it works or not underlies those three centuries. However, in the last decade, longevity decreased for some major cohorts – an unusual trajectory. Most see the causes as cultural. But part of that culture is an Obama perspective and Obama bureaucracy. Certainly, it says little good about Obamacare that those were its years. (Nonetheless, the Democrats, projecting, argue it is Republicans who want people to die.)
Bureaucrats and progressives posit a perfect, frustrating the doable better, and end up with the worse. Change stops. Curiosity is stifled, life is deadened.
Congress may not open a totally free market, but we know what works and what doesn’t. We should begin that understanding.