Friday, August 21, 2009

After speaking and voting against the resolution for "single pay" at the Denver Democrats Executive Committee (it passed 43 to 4) I got this email this morning from one of my friends who was in attendance:

Hey John -

Looking to understand your viewpoint.

If government can do something as efficiently, or better, than private enterprise, where is the downside in government performing that service? We have studies that show that single payer can cover everyone, for less money. That sounds good to me. Tell me what you see as the downside?

This is my response:

Basic principle is that government should only do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Government can't do the job as well (in terms of quality, price and service) as the butcher, the baker, and the candle stick maker. Or Realtors. :)

Yes, there are some services that the government must provide because it is much more efficient than all of us doing it individually, from snow removal on our streets to the universal education of our children.

But that doesn't mean there isn't a place for private providers. Private snow removal and education providers suppliment government services.

Seems to me that's the way it should be with health care. Government provides the basic safety net so we have good health care for all Americans. But the private system is vital and should be preserved. Improved with better oversight, yes. But preserved.

To see how government handles health care, look at the outrageous decision to close Ft. Logan. Some imagine that if government is the only health care provider, things will somehow improve. Seems to me things will immediately get much, much worse.

So to me "single-pay" is the mantra of the socialists, those who would like to see government ownership of all means of production, and of the stupid.

Where am I wrong?

What do you think? Should we exchange the health care system we have now for a system run like the old post office? Should Uncle Sam be our only doctor?


  1. John,

    My wife Julie and I were invited by you to attend your weekly Franklin Circle in downtown Denver. Having no previous exposure to these, we weren't sure what to expect. I have to wonder from the tone of your most recent (August 21st) post, however, whether we are right for your group.

    Specifically, what bothers me are the reasons you present concerning your views on current healthcare proposals: nobody, not Obama, not the Democrats, and not a single word of any of the various bills before the House or Senate contains any language that gives the government the right to handle your healthcare, or as you put it, to have "government be your doctor".

    In fact, it is quite plain that private insurance is still very much part of the picture, just like private snow removal: you will keep your doctor (assuming you were lucky enough to have one in the first place), you will keep your insurance if you like it (assuming you're lucky enough to have coverage, or to not have your coverage dropped as soon as you become ill), you will have MORE access to services at a reduced cost, and there will be no "rationing" (if anything, less than currently occurs with private insurance rationing methods). There will be, as you say, more regulation and less monopolization of the insurance companies allowed, but it will be backed by a public option which is as efficiently-run as Medicare (4% overhead costs, vs. 30% for private insurance) but will compete directly with private insurers to force them out of their trust-like stranglehold on American healthcare. And I would ask you, who says that the private "system" is vital; if you mean doctors, hospitals, clinics, etc., I agree wholeheartedly. But it seems you confuse and conflate the private INSURANCE industry with private medical care; the two cannot be further apart. What "vital service" is served by a company that takes 30% of every dollar you give them and converts it into administration costs, profits, and advertising revenue to sell more of itself to get another 30%? And then spends the majority of its time seeking ways to prevent payouts to the majority of those who have paid their premiums? The private INSURANCE industry is a cancer on society, and should be expunged. The private MEDICAL SERVICES industry is definitely vital, but I think you have combined the two in your thinking somehow; it is definitely not part of any government plan to take over your local hospital or force doctors onto the government payroll.

    So your claim that this is "socialist" is specious at best, and based solely on what appears to be a very mangled idea of what represents "socialism". And to further base your argument on the patently false premise that "government can't do anything right", which is implicit in your entire post (especially the crack at the USPS... where else can you get a written note to your relatives on the other side of the country in three days for only 44 cents? Yes, very inefficient, that), is disingenous.

    As I said earlier, we have had no previous exposure to the Franklin Circles. Unless you can reassure my wife and I that the Franklin Circles do not represent a playground for these kinds of misinformed and contralogical arguments, then I'm afraid we'll have to pass.

  2. Hi John Cline,

    You and I certainly have different opinions about the current health care debate.

    Seems to me it's ok for everyone to have their own opinion and to express it however they want.

    If you don't like that kind of exchange, I'd say the Franklin Circle probably wouldn't be suitable for you.

    John Wren

  3. Actually John, I love that kind of debate. Having no knowledge of how the Franklin Circles operates, I was simply questioning whether we would be walking into a lion's den (ie. everyone there is of one mind on things like this, and trying to actually have a debate is pointless) or whether this is a group that cherishes and encourages discussion, debate, and free thinking from all quarters, even those radically different than our own.

    I am all for the latter; I have no interest in trying to beard the lion if it is the former.

    As I see it, if you disagree with me on healthcare, that is fine, though I will continue to feel you are basing your arguments on a mistaken understanding of what is being presented. We may find many other points of perfect agreement. All I want to know is, are the Franklin Circles entirely composed of conservative viewpoints, or is it a mixture?

  4. Friday Franklin Circle is an open meeting, just to give you an idea about how it works. All points of view are welcome.

    I then encourage people to start their own group. A certain amount of like mindedness is necessary, but the more diversity the group can tolerate, the better.

    Hope to see you Friday. More info and optional RSVP at


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