by Mark Moore
The second edition of the Arkansas Watch “Ten Best Legislators” list (along with the “Ten Worst“) has gotten quite a bit of attention. But we are not the only ones to offer a top ten list. We are not even the only ones to offer a top ten list that most people consider a “conservative” source. TalkNow Business is considered by some to be conservative. And they do have a staff member or two with conservative bonifides, such as Steve Brawner. But TalkBusisness is not a limited-government conservative (‘conservatarian’) site. It is a business site.
In this day and age of crony-capitalism, almost by definition a business site can’t be a limited-government site. Big business has learned that instead of spending money marketing products and services to customers, it is more profitable to lobby government to get them to subsidize purchases of your product, or mandate that citizens purchase more of your product than they would of their own free will.
In this case, big hospitals and insurance companies both wanted the so-called “private option” to pass. Those are two powerful, well-funded lobbies that make up much of the talk when people “talk business.” They wanted it to pass because it, like every form of Obamacare, it does what I described in the paragraph above.
Hospitals will now get paid by the government so that they don’t have to write off any costs from people who don’t pay or quit paying. They have a guaranteed income stream from the taxpayers. Of course, hospitals are already compensating for the non-payers by charging the rest of us a little more, but don’t count on those prices going down just because they will now get over $200 million additional taxpayer dollars a year. We have seen that with both health care and higher education, and anything government throws money at really, that the more money that is thrown at something the higher its “costs” go.
The only way to control costs is with true free-market incentives. Since the hospital lobby made no promises to reduce the charges to the rest of us in exchange for the $200 million extra taxpayer dollars a year, and since we are moving even further away from a free market that could quickly force such price reductions, this bill represents a $200 million dollar special interest windfall from your pockets to theirs.
Insurance companies like the way that Arkansas’ Obamacare legislation both subsidizes the purchase of their products and mandates the purchase of more of their products than people would choose to buy of their own free will. The Waltons don’t need to purchase health insurance, but they are mandated to. I may feel like a $10,000 deductible is OK, but the regulations might say that a policy like that does not meet the requirements and I must purchase a more expensive one with a lower deductible. They are counting on “lowering” costs by forcing lots of healthy people into purchasing their products against their will.
This is what the astute reader should bear in mind when they compare the Arkansas Watch top ten list with the Talk Business Arkansas list. We rated people by how honest they were, by how hard they fought to limit the growth of government spending and control over our lives, and by how well they communicated with the people they were supposed to be serving. Talk Business ranked people by who could keep the crony-capitalist party going for one more session. They ranked people based on who could “get things done” – by which they meant spend public money and grow government. Consider that they had uber-lib Joyce Elliot as one of the top ten, along with many Republicans who said and did whatever they had to do to implement Obamacare (and Big River Steel too).
Which list is better? Of course we are partial to ours, but it all depends on what you are looking for. You have to decide for yourself whose lists have the most credibility.
Mark Moore is an advocate of the philosophy of government known as “Localism” as described in the book “Localism, A Philosophy of Government.” (and yes, you should look into it)
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