William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

It’s not to late to avoid the worst—reconciliation coming; Or, What does Whole Foods have to do with health care?

It’s not too late to prevent the worst in health care. The Senate bill must still be force-fit to the House bill during reconciliation. We still have time to discuss what requiring a new health tax means. The opportunity to sway our masters, at least a little, still exists.

Time might be out for Whole Food’s chief John Mackey, however, who earlier this year wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal in which he quoted Margret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

The result: an 8.4 on the Richter scale of quaking and shaking and sputtering from the left. Cries of “How could he!” echoed from blog to blog. Bitter tears! Condemnation! The assumption of the wounded was that any man who would sell expensive carrots must have been a socialist, just as they were.

No attempt was made, incidentally, by the weeping minority to refute the Iron Lady’s quip, for the simple logical reason that you cannot prove invalid what is true. The left were incensed merely because Mackey had the gall to say publicly what he did.

Judas himself did not get as much heat from his Christian brethren as Mackey took from the socialists. A boycott of Whole Foods was on!

An internet site sprang forth: WholeBoycott.com. Their tag line is “Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, says healthcare is NOT a right and used his corporate bully pulpit to spread insurance industry lies. Join other shoppers who will not spend dollars supporting Mackey’s right wing agenda.”

The hilarity of that statement is undoubtedly unintentional. The “right wing agenda” of which they speak means, as judging by Mackey’s actions, to provide health insurance to your employees, and supply them with flexible “health dollars” on top of the insurance.

Mackey also wanted to, e.g. “Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines”, and “Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost”. Gosh darn Republicans and their gosh darn right wing agendas!

The effect of the boycott—maybe—was to force Mackey to remit his title of “chairman.” He is still CEO, still on the board, presumably still has his shares, and will likely continue charging very large piles of lettuce for very small piles of…but you don’t really want that joke to end, do you?

The Whole Foods fiasco is important because it illustrates the mistakes in thinking, false assumptions, and incorrect conclusions of the health care debate. The meat of the entire thing is in that one mystical word: right.

It is a lovely word, but it is only one side of a coin. Socialists always assume its flip side, responsibility, can be ignored, or can be assumed to mean one fixed thing—exactly what Thatcher said: the responsibility for anything is on whoever has more money. Which is what makes socialism a self-limiting (and painful) disease. The money always runs out.

You cannot have a right without creating a responsibility, just as you cannot have a coin which only has one side. This is why we will have a discussion in the coming week over what responsibilities are implied in the “right” that socialists are claiming.

We can dispense with some arguments from the boycott site immediately. The site is, I think, a fair representative of socialist thinking. The link brings you to a page written by a “PhD” (!), who believes he has rebutted Mackey’s common sense approach.

“Healthcare IS a right in other countries” can be answered with, If all those other countries jumped off a cliff, would you, too?

“Does health reform mean a ‘government take-over?’ Ridiculous question but NO!” But YES! as they admit in their next breath, when they say, “Free markets do not work without rules and an independent arbiter.” The arbiter, the ruler, that is, will be the government. The assumption is that an arbiter is necessary. This assumption is false generally.

“Repealing mandates on what insurance must cover & state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines…will leave some consumers vulnerable.” Even if this is true, it is not an argument for the “right” which they claim. The buried assumption that “consumers” should be cared for and coddled is in there, of course, but that is another claim that is not true generally.

“Health Savings Accounts – Why they don’t work.” They do in fact “work”, if by “work” we mean they pay (at least some, or even all) of the expenses for care. It is only true that these accounts to not bring health to everybody. But no system can.

There are several other points, but they are marginal and involve only the particulars of certain plans, and do nothing to answer the central question: Why do people have a “right” to health insurance?

5 Comments

  1. Hi -

    They have a “right” to health insurance because they ignore the Gods of the Copybook Headings.

    …because PhDs in epidemiology think that makes them qualified to judge the economics of the health care industry.

    …because it’s the only way that a certain cadre of politicians can justify their existence.

    …because economics is so gosh-darn mean.

    …because logic and reality have no place in their world, just ask a hookah-smoking caterpillar.

    Off with your head!

    And your anti-spam settings don’t like repeating memes…

  2. …..because it is “fairer” for those who can’t or won’t provide insurance for themselves?
    …..because I need their votes in order to be re-elected?
    …..because without it they would not take care of themselves to a standard of which I approve?
    …..because I don’t trust George Bush?
    …..because I need to feel like I made a difference in life?
    …..because my parents took too high a level of care of me and I now feel guilty?
    …..because I’m not going to be the one that pays for it?
    …..because the Canadians do it and look how few of them need to cross the border for care?
    …..because once this is wrapped up we can begin issuing everyone a home. a job, a car and child-care?

  3. I wonder why those on the left always think they are right when by definition being left is the opposite of right. Somehow just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps “Have the right” really means those on the right will be had? If this health care thing is passed I’m afraid there won’t be anything left.

    DAV

    – And the parting on the left
    Is now parting on the right
    And their beards have all grown longer overnight

  4. It’s all about egalitarianism and if you have read Helmut Schoeck’s book “envy” you know egalitarianism is a manifestation of envy. It’s vice masquerading as virtue.

  5. The remark, “…The meat of the entire thing is in that one mystical word: right.
    It is a lovely word, but it is only one side of a coin. Socialists always assume its flip side, responsibility, can be ignored,….”

    Reminds me of the scene in which a successful but eccentric writer, played by Jack Nicholson in “As Good As it Gets,” tries, unsuccessfully, from getting interviewed by his agent’s gushing receptionist:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Y9BukEBI9c&feature=related

    The parallels/similarities/etc. between the movie scene & quoted remarks should be self-evident.

    It (the remarks or movie excerpt…I’ve leave to which I’m referring a mystery) might even be funnier if not so true…

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