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August 24, 2009

Clearly, Mr. President, Every Hospital Should Be Like the Post Office


In trying to persuade a thoroughly dissatisfied populace that his government-growing health care plot would not expel private insurers from the market, Barack Obama recently proclaimed: “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.”


You would think that such an unusually frank assessment of what government health care would look like is not exactly a truth the Democrats would want to publicize. Yet last week, Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. doubled-down by also comparing Obama’s public option to the U.S. Postal Service.


So, why not take a look at the Postal Service, and determine whether it should really be a model for the health care of the future.


This year, the supposedly self-sustaining Postal Service is expected to lose $7 billion, and will likely repeat the same feat again next year. This is all despite the fact that it has access to artificially low borrowing rates from the government, as well as a monopoly on first-class mail (it is funny how, despite furious warnings from anti-market voices about the dangers of theoretical business monopolies, the only monopolies that actually exist in America are governmental or government-sanctioned).


No private enterprise with such advantages would possibly get away with such an awful model. Which is yet another reason the Postal Service will receive a bailout before congressional central planners concede the inefficacy of a government-run mail delivery service.


Even so, with these horrible operations came the mesmerizing combination of both higher postage prices and inferior service – the Postal Service is now working to drop service from six days to five days – as if its service wasn’t poor enough already for those of us compelled to use it.


No one readily volunteers to drop off a package at USPS before receiving valuable concessions from family members first. “You do the dishes for two weeks, and I’ll drive to the post office, stand in a slow, long line normally reserved for a previous low-tech century and deal with a clerk who appears rather inconvenienced by my desire to send a package in the mail.”


Sounds like a fair deal. If it’s a miserable experience, you might as well get something out of it.


But government health care would not even offer the luxury of bargaining. When you are sick, you are going to the hospital, and you are going now. You are going to wait, and wait, and wait, and then you will get rushed through by bureaucrats who will see you as more of a burden on their “system” than your illness is a burden on you.


We know for a fact that this will happen because it already happens. It happens in other countries that blundered by handing their health care industries to their governments (it is the Canadians who send their patients over here, not the other way around). And it happens right here in the U.S., most notably with the DMV, immigration offices and the post office – not so coincidentally, all of them government-run. To add doctor’s offices and hospitals to this list would be morally incomprehensible, yet again, so are many things that politicians do.


Equally mind-boggling is the fact that anyone is willing to hand over one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and the most sacred health of Americans (and some Canadians), to an institution that ran the disastrous and disorganized “Cash for Clunkers” program. To an institution that only a few months ago predicted that the $787 billion “stimulus” would halt unemployment at 8 percent, while unemployment has since far surpassed 9 percent and is speeding toward double-digits. To an institution that in February vowed to cut the federal budget deficit in half by 2012, yet only days ago raised its 10-year deficit projection to an unfathomable $9 trillion.


And to an institution promising that the “public option” would fund itself – much like it promised the Postal Service would fund itself, which we now know is a damaging falsehood.


How can this institution – government – be trusted with health care for decades when its most important predictions have been proven so, so erroneous in only a few months?


Only with a big, fat dose of rhetorical hope n’ change. That’s how. Yet thankfully, most Americans are becoming immune to that by now.

© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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