Monday, August 8, 2011

Dare we "idiots" trust ourselves?

Recently we discussed the idea of vouchers for education in lieu of being given the sole choice of using taxpayer money to attend government schools. We recommended both free choice and appropriate financial achievement incentives for individuals and families, which we believe would result in a much better educational result for the money expended.

Let's take a look at health care, and see if the same logic applies. I believe it does. With respect to our American health care system, government now writes checks for ~50% of health care in America. Regardless of the cost, the question du jour is who should make the decisions about individual care and its use, government bureaucrats or the individual family using the service?

We'll look across the pond for advice, since England is even farther down the socialistic health care road than we are, at least so far.

Britain's Incompetent Decision-Makers offers a compelling and totally logical argument in favor of changing to a system of individual choice in using health care. People would receive cash and use it for as much or as little health care as they wished. This trust ourselves approach would be in lieu of the current method of having government officials decide how much health care the country as a whole can afford and then apportioning it however the bureaucrats so choose.

The straightforward idea behind trusting us idiots - er - people and giving us money directly would be that we best are able to make decisions for ourselves. If instead of allowing the government to make all the health care decisions, individuals would choose how much to spend on health care, just as we do for such things as cars, homes, shoes, education, food, elderly care, vacations or whatever.

It's really very simple. In lieu of a system where we ask government officials to act on our behalf, we would simply trust ourselves to act in our own best interest. By treating the people like the responsible decision makers in health care, we would achieve greatly improved results from the health care system. Subsidiarity in action.

The simple point is that we the people either trust ourselves to make decisions about our general welfare and what's best for our families, or we trust disinterested government workers to make those decisions for us.

Of course, the politicians don't actually call us idiots. If they did, we wouldn't vote for them. But no matter what is said or not said, we are treated that way.

My view is that given more responsibility, people would learn to make better decisions over time. In economics this is known as "maximizing our own utility", meaning simply that we always try to act to make ourselves as well off as possible. Based on our individual preferences, we make our choices accordingly. That means we will spend our available resources on whatever we believe will give us the greatest benefit and personal satisfaction. Virtually all of us will choose to help ourselves and our family members.

In any event, this idiot's view is that we are generally better able to decide what's best for ourselves than are disinterested others acting on our behalf.

I wonder why that's so hard to understand, or do our political leaders really believe they have the answers for each of us? If so, they're even bigger fools than they appear to be.

Thanks. Bob.

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