Cool, There's a Word For This
I have been calling it "the health care Trojan horse for fascism." It is the phenomenon where government funding of health care is used as an excuse to micro-regulate individual behaviors. Apparently, the economic term is "government financing externalities."
These kinds of "government financing exernalities" are commonly used to justify government regulations that restrict individual freedom. Liberals use these arguments to justify such regulations as mandatory seat belt laws, smoking bans (because government may end up subsidizing smokers' medical treatment if they get lung cancer), and most recently restrictions on morgage terms (because the government may bail out people who end up defaulting). Conservatives have their own favorite government financing externality arguments. For example, many argue that we should restrict immigration because otherwise the immigrants might collect welfare benefits that are paid for by taxpayers. Obviously, the greater the role of government in financing a wide range of activities, the greater the number of potential government financing externalities. The expansion of government spending facilitates the expansion of government regulation intended to curb the negative effects of the spending.
Government financing externality arguments generate their appeal from the fact that they seem not to be paternalistic. We are willing to let you hurt yourself, advocates implicitly suggest, but we can't let your bad behavior hurt the taxpayers.
The libertarian solution to this problem is to eliminate the government financing that created the "externality" in the first place. I
Posted on January 13, 2008 at 09:14 PM | Permalink
The problem with the listed example of conservative use of this practice is that conservatives don't want welfare programs. Liberals, on the other hand, want seat belt laws, smoking bans, etc. The health cost argument is just an excuse to help them get what they want (kind of like how global warming is an excuse to enact other liberal ideas).
Posted by: Craig | Jan 13, 2008 11:20:56 PM
This is just nitpicking (I agree with the idea itself), but I don't think smoking bans necessarily are only justified by the "government subsidizing externalities" argument; instead, I think they are perfectly good examples of governments intervening to eliminate negative market externalities directly. Second-hand smoke causes a lot of problems, for example, even for non-smokers. Since we don't really have the pre-requisites for Coase's Theorem to apply, I'd say government regulation of smoking is perfectly fine. Creating mechanisms to solve negative externalities is partially what the government is for.
Posted by: such.ire | Jan 13, 2008 11:42:39 PM
We are a pioneering organization in India,venturing with a new
concept of promoting Senior Citizens Short Term Resident Homes in
India.This is a new venture aimed at targeting senior citizens abroad
who want a good deal without the crippling expense. On the anvil is a
cluster of old age comfort homes, independent cottages and similar
facilities, which will tie-up with multi-specialty hospitals, nursing
and paramedical assistance providers in INDIA.
India is fast developing in Medical science and Technology. Many
people from across Europe come to India for medical treatment as it is
cost effective and assured Quality in medical service. More over the
cost of living in India is not so expensive when compared to Europe.
With highly educated, skilled workers available at a much lower cost
than in the West, India has become an attractive location for Health
Training and experience of Indian doctors is widely acknowledged
particularly in the US and UK where they have made significant
contributions to the delivery of healthcare in the host countries.
Many of these doctors after having specialized and practiced in the
West have returned home to set up impressive state of the art
facilities with the latest in equipment, technology and service levels
India provides world class, person centric, customized medical care
at affordable cost and on demand, making it into a hassle free
experience. We seek to restore health in a fashion that goes beyond
simple healing. While your body and mind is cared for by outstanding
specialists, in all probability also saving you thousands of dollars
in the process, the magic of India and it's unique culture works on
reinvigorating the spirit, to shape up once again to the challenge and
stress of old age and living.
For more details mail me at email@example.com with
subject Senior Resident Homes.
visit our alternative therepy page www.rosemaayurveda.com
Posted by: julian | Jan 14, 2008 5:29:55 AM
...and yet, there is no problem with government workers' joining unions, even though the government inevitably will end up financing over-inflated compensation packages.
Posted by: Mark Alger | Jan 14, 2008 7:17:37 AM
A bit off topic for this post, but on the subject of national health care as Trojan horse for all kinds of unsavory things, I was wondering what Coyote's take is on the news from Britain that the govt there now proposes that organs be harvested WITHOUT the deceased or the deceased family's consent.
Posted by: BerthaMinerva | Jan 14, 2008 9:04:05 AM
The concept of "Shared Resources" (air, waterway, roads, public buildings, national/state parks and forest, etc.) is that they are owned and shared by all the citizens and as such are regulated and controlled by the government, the representative of the citizens.
These concept allows the government to regulate emissions into the air because we all share the same air. This becomes a rationale for regulating where people can smoke, since the results of smoking is expelled into the same air that others are breathing.
If health care becomes a shared resource, i.e. paid for by the government, then it becomes inevitable that the government will regulate access, allocation and behavior. This is one of the many reasons to avoid government paid for health care.
Posted by: will | Jan 14, 2008 10:01:33 AM
"A bit off topic for this post, but on the subject of national health care as Trojan horse for all kinds of unsavory things, I was wondering what Coyote's take is on the news from Britain that the govt there now proposes that organs be harvested WITHOUT the deceased or the deceased family's consent"
SCARY STUFF. You can't sell your own kidney, but the gov't can give it away. Are UK residents (or at least deceased UK residents) now chattel for their owner-government to dispose of as it wills ? With gov't gatekeepers/rationers for health care, how long before someone sees that lengthening the time to get care in Nat'l Health will positively 'adjust' the actuarial experience on the benefits-paying (social security) side.
Posted by: tribal elder | Jan 14, 2008 12:24:12 PM
Here ya go:
Posted by: I like | Jan 14, 2008 1:34:06 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.