Tuesday, January 22, 2013
High Sounding Junk
Matt Welch quotes the President Obama's much-praised speech:
We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other—through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security—these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
This is a load of high-minded-sounding junk, conflating all sorts of issues and appeals. Seriously, do you know anybody remotely in a position to influence policy who thinks that the government should never help anyone under any circumstances? Medicaid is the country's health-care system for the poor and is, by all accounts, an atrocious program that even sometimes harms the very population at whom it's directed.On a wide variety of outcomes, it is worse than the alternative. And in every state in the union, it is either the single-biggest or second-biggest annual expenditure and a primary cause for state fiscal problems. You can't wrap this rotting fish in soaring rhetoric and get rid of the stink. I happen to believe in a state-assisted safety net - which is precisely why Medicaid is so outrageous. It's a huge waste of money that chronically under-delivers. To pretend otherwise is wilful blindness.