To the editor:
To understand the current debate over healthcare, one needs to see past the rhetoric of both parties and look at the policies they actually enact.
Republicans promise to protect us against big government, while Democrats promise to protect us against big business.
But in practice, both parties consistently support a partnership between big government and big business, at the expense of ordinary people. They bicker over which partner is to be dominant; but neither party ever seriously threatens the overall partnership.
The healthcare bill is a case in point.
Democrats have portrayed it as an assault on the power of insurance companies as if those companies won’t benefit enormously from a provision requiring everyone to buy health insurance (with or without the public option).
The Republicans, for their part, portray their defense of the status quo as a defense of the free market. But the status quo in healthcare is no free market; its a system of massive, ongoing government intervention on behalf of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the medical establishment.
Democrats and Republicans disagree only over the precise flavor of intervention, not the amount. The question is always whether decisions about your healthcare should be made by bureaucrats, or instead by plutocrats never by you.
A century ago, a vibrant system of health cooperatives, run not by bureaucrats or plutocrats but by the working class, was dramatically reducing healthcare prices and boosting patient autonomy until government regulation shut the system down. (University of Alabama history professor David Beito documents the story in his book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State.)
If Republicans really care about free markets, and if Democrats really care about the poor, why doesnt either party work to repeal those laws and allow the cooperative system to return?
Roderick T. Long