There You Go Again, Assemblyman Niello

California Assemblyman Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks) has been busy this week promoting his neocon talking points. In the Orangevale View he writes “lawmakers can no longer sit idly by and watch employers be regulated to death.”

Meanwhile, Haiti — without building code regulations — suffered 200,000 dead after an earthquake the size of Chile’s. Chile has building code regulations, and only 700 died. Who is really dead, and who is regulated?

Niello apparently believes government’s taxes, spending and regulations never produce any real benefit; they only kill jobs. Never mind that better regulation would have prevented the sub-prime meltdown that has sent our economy into a tailspin, or that taxes have been cut for the last 30 years without any unusual upturn in the economy (the unusual upturn came after the Clinton administration raised the top marginal rates). And never mind that, after adjusting for inflation, California’s per-capita State spending has been roughly flat for that same period.

Somehow Niello’s perspective does not admit government is a way to pool resources and share them — for things like infrastructure and human capital. And we must always ignore the way private power producers (PG&E) consistently charge more than public ones (SMUD).

One wonders: Does Niello boil his government-treated water, or drive 20 MPH on those government-built freeways? Because they couldn’t be safe if government was involved! (In an ironic twist, government provides safety from FEMA, to fire departments, to the military.)

Continuing his anti-government theme, Niello wrote the Sacramento Bee saying “The fact is that most of our problems with health care have to do with too much government rule-making and not enough individual choice and control.”

Perhaps Niello doesn’t know that Toyota moved a U.S. assembly plant to Canada because they’ve got single-payer health care, which is nothing but government rule-making. Another bit of irony: Niello’s family auto dealerships sell German imports, from the highly taxed, well-regulated part of Europe. Luckily, Niello has had himself irony-proofed.

Uncontroversially, America’s mostly private health care is nearly twice as expensive as single-payer systems worldwide. The Germans are in second place, costing 60% as much, and covering everyone.

U.S. health care also produces far worse outcomes. The World Health Organization’s study comparing health care outcomes ranks the U.S. 37th, between Costa Rica and Slovenia. The Bee said that it was as though we had the health care of Costa Rica, but paid six times more for it.

Niello even wrote the Orangevale View that people should be proud to pay twice the Canadian price for drugs, because those extra profits fund drug companies’ research and development. (Honestly, I could not make this up.) What Niello doesn’t mention is that 55% of big PhRMA’s gross profits go to marketing, while only 15% goes toward R&D — and the bulk of the R&D is to extend the patent life of existing drugs (like “time-release Viagra”) rather than create any new cures.

This article even says that health reform would create more than 52,000 jobs in California.

So to review: Government is always bad. Private industry is always good. We must cut taxes and regulation, no matter how low they are, and otherwise government gets uppity.

Please remember this when Assemblyman Niello sends us a great big “You’re welcome!” after he joins intransigent Republicans cutting funding for home health care workers for the indigent elderly, as the Governor has proposed. Sure, providing those workers is far cheaper than providing their patients with assisted care or emergency room visits, but grandma’s had enough of being regulated to death, dagnabbit!

Adam Eran

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