When we left the movies Friday, a flier promoting Congressman Lundgren's health care town hall meetings appeared on the windshield of every car in the parking lot. In it, author Charles (Chuck) J Dunbar warns "Notoma [sic] Station Resident" that the proposed health care change is "not reform [but] a complete ... takeover of the Best Health Care system in the world." (Chuck rejects conventional capitalization because he's a MAvERicK.)
Apparently, Chuck's worry is "single-payer" health care -- the Canadian, Japanese and Western European flavor. Uncontroversially, such systems cost roughly half what the U.S. pays, and deliver better outcomes.
"Outcomes" are things like life expectancy, infant mortality, vaccination rates, etc. In the World Health Organizations' composite measure, U.S. outcomes rank 37th in the world -- between Slovenia and Costa Rica. The Sacramento Bee says it's as though the U.S. has the health care of Costa Rica but pays six times more for the privilege.
Chuck says "You only have to look at every other country that has a Single Payer Health Care System to project what our Health Care will look like." (Better and cheaper?)
But is the scary Canadian system really proposed now? No. Outside of Chuck's bizarre imaginings, what's proposed is a rather limited alternative to private insurance. Those satisfied with their current insurance can keep it. Others can elect the Public Option.
Perhaps what concerns Chuck is the way government will drive its private competitors out of business, limiting our choices. You know, the way the Post Office has bankrupted UPS and FedEx.
Finally, Chuck appears concerned about government's financial viability: "Every social Agency within the federal Government is on the verge of Bankruptcy." (With a capital "B"!)
Chuck is correct. Beginning with the Reagan deficits, every administration but one in the last 40 years has either spent too much, or cut taxes it couldn't afford to cut, leaving large deficits behind. And deficits, as any preteen can tell you, are just taxes you haven't paid yet.
So it's those darned big-government Democrats! But ... the only Democratic administration since Reagan had a budget surplus.
Chuck remains concerned that government will botch health care, as it does so many other things. Consistent with that concern, Chuck drives 20 MPH on the government-built freeways. He boils his drinking water, because government-run water treatment can't be trusted. Unique in his neighborhood, Chuck also does his own mosquito abatement, produces his own flu vaccine, inspects his own meat, and mints his own money.
The perfidy of government runs deep, and Chuck's measures amount to self-defense. If he didn't defend himself, he would be guilty of "socialism," which, as everyone knows, is only slightly less evil than grave robbing.
"The proposed Health Care Reform Bill will usurp many of our inalienable rights and lead us to a Marxist type of governance," continues Chuck. You know, like Canada, or worse! -- cover the children's' ears -- France!
That was last week.
Today, as I left the market, a paid signature gatherer asked me to endorse cutting state spending. I asked her if she knew that, after adjusting for inflation and population, California's state spending has grown insignificantly in the past two decades. The state's deficits exist because we reduced taxes, starting with proposition 13.
She replied that I'm entitled to my opinion. I asked her if 2+2=5. "If that's your opinion."
So that's the current state of civic discourse; we're entitled to our own opinions *and* our own facts. All I ask is that you remember how tenuous is reality, and that you post this in the parking lot when you're done.