Thomas Sowell – A Health Care Crisis



now since all human situations have some negative features to them nothing is the easier than to find something to complain of and to call it a crisis a crisis does not mean that what you're talking about is any worse than anything else the human beings do it does not even mean that it's getting worse than it was in the past in a remarkable number of cases that I've looked at the thing that is called the crisis has in fact been getting better for years prior to the policy now after you after you've convinced people there's a crisis you have your solution this is sort of a four stage things first comes the crisis then it comes a solution typically the people who advocate this solution will say this will lead to beneficial result aid the critics say this will lead to detrimental result Z third stage they put the policy in and the result is that at least a detrimental results lead the interesting part is the fourth step where the people who attribute this detrimental result of the policy are accused of being simplistic for ignoring the complexities of the many factors involved moreover the only cure for this new bad situation is more of the same policy let me give a couple of examples press the war on poverty now the purpose of the war on poverty was not to prove that if you took money from here and get and put it there there would be more money there than there was before the purpose of war and poverty was to end dependency on government handouts that is you would have an increase in spending and investment as they say in these programs which will then pay off down the road as all the problems that have been forced all by this wonderful program now begin to subside you can quote either from Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton depending on who you prefer to quote large literature from both sources and so an retraining is one of the great magic words in both administration's you will retrain people including people who had never trained in the first place in order to reduce long-term dependency so the predictions were made that if you had these programs after some period of years dependency on the government would decline and of course the opposite prediction that a dependence on the government would increase and so the war on poverty was initiated dependency increased to unferth of all the situation at the beginning of the of the crisis poverty had been declining in the United States for at least a decade dependency on the government to stay out of poverty had been declining for at least a decade prior to the war on poverty dependency on government began to increase almost immediately as of today there are more people in poverty than there were in 1964 despite literally trillions of dollars spent and now we come to a current example the health care situation or the health care crisis I'm sorry now how do we know that there's a healthcare crisis in the United States because the president has told us again and again the president's wife has told us the media have told us what more could you want now one of the one of the statistics they throw around is that the United States spends 14% of the GNP on health care no reason is given why a higher or lower number would be better particularly in the countries which is growing older and wealthier at the same time Germany and Japan have held up as models because there they only spend 9% I'll get back to Germany and Japan a little later one of the confusions is the confusion between health insurance and medical care and the second confusion is between medical care and health we already have virtually universal medical care in the United States the poorest soul in these United States who passes out on the streets will get medical care he may or may not pay the hospital but he will get medical care the other thing is confusing medical care with health there are tremendous differences in longevity within the United States Mormons in the United States have a life expectancy a decade longer than the average white American is this because the Mormons have extraordinary medical care or could it have something to do with the fact that they don't drink they don't take drugs and they don't go around shooting each other now the favorite explanation for any problem in Washington is that our society has failed and so prenatal care is held up as one of the ways of reducing our infant mortality one of the faster ways of introducing it and reducing our infant mortality would be to collect the statistics the way they do in the countries we're compared to was it which is to say that when a very underweight baby is born in the United States all kinds of medical treatment are given to that baby and when the baby dies in spite of that treatment that baby becomes part of our infant mortality statistics in many other countries no such effort is made to save that baby and when that baby dies that is counted as a stillbirth not as infant mortality so it's much faster to reduce infant mortality that way and make ourselves comparable to the people we're being compared with a couple of years ago there was a study which showed that prenatal care was not as common among blacks as among whites and that there was a higher infant mortality rate among blacks the immediate conclusion was clearly it was one thing was the cause of the other again being sort of battle-hardened about these things I sent away for the study and on the very same page where the statistics showed that blacks had higher infant mortality rates and lower prenatal care it showed that mexican-americans have even lower even less prenatal care than blacks and lower infant mortality rates than whites and then one would affirm a few pages on one would discover that Americans of Chinese Japanese and Filipino ancestry likewise had lower infant mortality rates than whites and less prenatal care the conclusion I would draw is that there is no connection between prenatal care and infant mortality but of course that's not a politically popular conclude there'll be a lot of bureaucrats out of work if we start thinking that way getting back to Germany in Japan in Germany in Japan people have more doctor's visits for the same disease and shorter visits each time so one of the ways in which you can bring health care costs under control is to have someone go through the doctor ten times for half as long instead of five times for twice as long that way your statistics will show that you have brought health care costs under control now if you're an elderly person who has to stand out on the street in the winter waiting for a bus ten times instead of five times you may not fully appreciate the good that's being done for you what one of the confusions that runs through the whole healthcare issue is the difference between controlling costs and controlling prices let me look at some of the cost differences that exist an American doctor pays 14 times as much for malpractice insurance as a doctor in Germany noting that the administration has said is likely to reduce that that cost in fact given the political support of the trial lawyers Association for Bill Clinton I doubt seriously if that cost will be reduced at all controlling prices are something very different nothing is easier than to control prices you issue a law saying it is illegal to charge more than X for product a they've been doing this not only for centuries but literally for thousands of years the emperor diocletian back in the days the Roman Empire had price controls had exactly the same consequences as price controls under Jimmy Carter diocletian's reaction was very similar the Jimmy Carter's he wondered why people were so greedy now one of the reasons the United States has higher cause is that we have better health care it was fascinating to watch the president say that we have the best health care in the world yes the best does cost more you can always pay less and get less but only by going through the government are you likely to pay more and get less the United States has the lowest death rate from cancer of the stomach cervix and uterus of any country in the world it has the second lowest death rate for breast cancer and from heart attacks there are more than twice as many cat scanners per capita in the United States as in Germany more than three times as much many as in Canada what's fascinating in all the discussion of health care is that the entire supply side is ignored I don't know where these doctors are going to come from from that are going to give us this greatly increased medical care that we're demanding at the government's expense for example there are something like 8,000 doctors from Canada alone practicing in the United States partly as a result of the wonderful Canadian health system that we are being asked to imitate correspondingly there are large numbers of Canadian patients who come to the United States as a result of the wonderful health care in Canada that we're being asked to imitate I was up in Spokane this spring and they mentioned how all the people who come down from Canada to be treated that is they could they pay their costs down to the United States in addition to paying for medical care here that they could get free in Canada one of the people who did this was the Premier of Quebec I told them in Spokane justjust wait wait a while after a while we will have our health care system and Americans will be going up the candidate over a period of about a dozen years something like 15,000 doctors came here from India alone so we have a very large medical contingent in this country from around the world coming here to enjoy the free conditions of the american medical system of course if we make our system just like the earth many of them will probably decide to go home what's really lacking in so many areas is a lack of knowledge of the role of prices there's a notion that prices are just things that people set up arbitrarily on their own I call it volitional pricing you decide that you want to charge this some prices are high because people are greedy and other prices are low presumably because they're not so greedy when I was teaching at UCLA I used to tell the people in fact if that's true then it must be that proximity to the ocean increases greed because all the housing prices nearly are just enough far higher than they are in land if you go east into the smog why the prices go down and it seemed to me that proves that smog is an antidote to greed unfortunately this theory has not yet been recognized there is no sense that prices are conveying some underlying reality like I have a book coming out this fall which is called is reality optional and unfortunately among many intellectuals the answer will be yes you

36 comments

  1. He's talking about the Hegelian Dialectic…funny how he exposes globalism without exposing globalism…He's a Genius.

  2. Thomas Sowell has been trying to educate us all on the obvious from; economics, education, race, welfare, entitlements, and health care. I can only hope he lives long enough for others to appreciate his great contributions. I hope the Black History month would recognize this wonderful man. What he has done not only to help Blacks, but all of us is outstanding. He eloquently shines a light to many fallacies. I can only hope he continues to educate us all on economics, free markets and capitalisms and how it must survive. We need to continue to push our children to get educated, stay away from big government, and acknowledge that we are not entitled to anything except the freedom and the liberty that our constitution has provided.

  3. DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government Paperback – May 28, 2013
    by Jesse Ventura (Author),‎ Dick Russell (Contributor)

  4. Thanks to a 1986 law signed by Ronald Reagan, the costs of the uninsured already factored into your coverage. Republicans are preventing this law from covering as many people as it could — because of this at least 19,000 Americans could die each year. This is an experiment that we know works. Just about every other industrialized country in the world covers all of their citizens and they all pay less for care.

    We already pay for each other’s insurance in the dumbest way possible!

  5. Oh man, he's tearing apart Michael Moore's "Sicko" almost a decade and a half before it came out.

  6. OK so somebody else is equally shocked. Not that it matters of course because we won't turn him into a hero over-night. T'is true, 'no prophet is accepted in his own country or by his own people'.

  7. We really need to start teaching economic theory in depth to high school students. Why do we have .ed classes when we can have shop and economics as a staple set of classes. Even private schools are damnable, sacrificing real education for college preparatory courses. If you teach real information, with the concept of teaching a student to critically think and know the basics of life to handle any situation out of high school, they're already prepared for college…more so than currently.

  8. "What's really lacking in so many areas, is a lack of knowledge of the role of prices." — Sowell
    How very true, in so many areas of our economy. The average american is utterly ignorant about basic economic theory. And yet has no shortage of strong opinions, as well as the power of voting to back up those baseless opinions.

  9. Men like him, Ron Paul, Walter Williams, and others want to bring REAL HOPE & CHANGE to America! Not like the scumbags we have now!

  10. You give me hope. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the slaves cheered "I got my freedom" and not "I got my Obama-phone." What a morally bankrupt nation we've become, where people have been so perverted that they come to enjoy their servitude.

  11. I do the same! There seems to be an LP video of some kind (Friedman, WWilliams, Sowell or others) for every ridiculous liberal contention.

  12. Thomas Sowell is amazing; any time I bring up one of his videos in an argument, my opponent tends not to continue replying. It's a wonder what realizing how full of sh*t statistics can be can do to liberals and conservatives alike.

  13. "best health care on planet Earth"

    There are some things the American healthcare system does well, but in other ways it's one of the worst systems in the developed world. We shouldn't be too stubborn to not desire to free up the industry from insurance mandates, FDA regulations, AMA licensing, and Medicare. We need to return to more of a direct payment method for routine service to better control costs.

  14. Well the fascist running for the GOP created the blueprint for the plan. And now he criticizes Obama for it. What a joke.

  15. "There is a real crisis in health care" I call BS; I can get a doctor to see me TODAY if I get sick, here in the USA… best health care on planet Earth, and the damn Communist you elected wants to take that away.

  16. "Helping people" is never the motivation behind social welfare programs. The motivation behind said programs is to force you, all of you, to be your brother's keeper, whether you like it or not; to establish a system where enslavement to others is the norm; where slavery is the standard practice of the state; where man's individual rights are null and void.

    I recommend listening to the Ellsworth Toohey speech "How to Rule Souls".

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