Will America Go the Way of Greece?

How many times have you heard that America is the only industrialized country without a national health care system? Now, just as America seems to be jumping into that pond, another country may be required to jump out.

The country of Greece is so deeply in debt, and has made so many promises to its citizens that it can’t keep, that it needs a massive bailout from other nations and organizations. America is a part of the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank consortium putting up funds to help Greece weather its financial crisis.

In return for this help, Greece must make changes. One of these changes, according to the New York Times, is to “remove the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors” including possibly privatizing its government health care system. Economists say that “liberalizing the health care industry would help bring down prices”¦which are among the highest in Europe.”

So if dismantling the government health care system in Greece would help reduce prices, why is America rushing headlong in the opposite direction? Could it be that cost control isn’t really part of the agenda here? After all, America is not as deeply in debt as Greece. But we’re headed in that direction. Rather than wait until we, too, have to look at privatizing a nationalized health care system, perhaps we shouldn’t nationalize it in the first place.


Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 12 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Ron Marquez

    …..”why is America rushing headlong in the opposite direction?”…..

    Because a European model state is BHO’s vision for America. And the likelihood that national healthcare will add to the deficit or be unsustainable in the long run does not appear to concern BHO or congress.

    Unless the courts undo the healthcare legislation, piecemeal or in its entirety, we will have national healthcare through at least 2012 and possibly 2016. Only then might we have a chance to repeal or significantly modify it.

    As for Greece, it’s likely some form of national healthcare will continue. There just no real sign there is the political will to fully privatize it. National bankruptcy, if that’s even possible, would be the only thing that might significantly change Greece’s social and financial structure.

  • Bob Clark

    This is the primary objection of most folks against Obama Care. The U.S can not afford any such new entitlements. Obama Care seeks to cut costs on Medicare and Medicaid by reducing treatment options, but historically what we’ve seen is quite the opposite. When push comes to shove, Congress will buckle and continue paying full Medicare and Medicaid benefits, choosing instead to print new monies. Countries around the globe are resorting to printing new monies, and eventually, this leads to a bout of steep inflation driving up the cost of things like medical care even more so. Interest rates will also take off raising the debt burden to difficult levels for the U.S government. Reigning in this prospective inflation would cause another great recession. So, very likely as in Greece and California, Obama Care is a false promise because it lacks credible long term financing tied to a vibrant economy.

  • valley p

    First, the IMF and EU are not telling Greece to “dismantle” its mostly public sector health care system. They are saying cut back spending, and that might include privatizing some aspects or shorting some services.

    Second, since it was mostly Germany and France who put the money up, and since these nations also have public-private health care systems as or more generous than Greece, it does not stand to reason that socialized health care systems are the core problem here. A much bigger problem in Greece is the cost of their public pension system, which is way higher proportionately than in other EU countries.

    Third, yes cost control is a big issue. That is in large part why we passed Obamacare to get some better cost control in place. Time will tell if it works or not, but what we had clearly was not working. Insurance costs had doubled over the previous 8 years to Obama becoming president.

    • jim karlock

      Get real, Dean,

      If cost was really a goal:
      They would have introduced competition.
      They would have required a percentage co pay on all procedures.
      They would have required the posting of costs by suppliers.
      They would eliminated employer captive health care and put the tax deduction to the individual on equal (or better) status with the employer.
      They would eliminated mandated coverage of politically correct medical items.

      What they really did was the usual action by government: enrich the politically connected. (I this case the insurance industry!)

      Thanks
      JK

      • valley p

        “They would have introduced competition. ”

        They did. Its called exchanges.

        “They would have required a percentage co pay on all procedures.”

        That is left up to the market based exchanges. Why would you want the government dictating the co pay?

        “They would eliminated employer captive health care and put the tax deduction to the individual on equal (or better) status with the employer. ”

        That was called the Wyden-Bennett plan and it lacked the votes. Bennett just lost his job for supporting it in the first place.

        “They would eliminated mandated coverage of politically correct medical items.”

        Like what….mammograms?

        “What they really did was the usual action by government: enrich the politically connected. (I this case the insurance industry!)”

        Unfortunately you are correct on this one. But you left out the pharmacutical companies. Lots of people getting rich off of health care in the US. That won’t change as a result of Obamacare.

        • jim karlock

          *Dean:*
          “They would have introduced competition. ”

          They did. Its called exchanges.
          *JK:*
          I mean real competition:
          Across state lines, no mandates, no price fixing, no dividing up the market.

          *Dean:*
          “They would eliminated employer captive health care and put the tax deduction to the individual on equal (or better) status with the employer. ”

          That was called the Wyden-Bennett plan and it lacked the votes. Bennett just lost his job for supporting it in the first place.
          *JK:* Tells reams about the Democrat’s real motives.

          *Dean:*
          “They would eliminated mandated coverage of politically correct medical items.”

          Like what….mammograms?
          *JK:*
          Yeah. Makes little sense for men.
          How about abortion and birth control mandates? Dean should have little use for either of these.

          Note that Dean has just used a typical liberal disingenuous debating technique of bringing up a popular item as an alleged typical example.

          *Dean:*
          “What they really did was the usual action by government: enrich the politically connected. (I this case the insurance industry!)”

          Unfortunately you are correct on this one.
          *JK:*
          Good to see that you comprehend this one. Now try to comprehend that the same motives are behind light rail, city planning and global warming.

          Thanks
          JK

          • valley p

            “Across state lines, ”

            The exchanges do operate across state lines. Your “real competition” is simply free market fundamentalism. Go elect libertarians and maybe you can get that.

            “Tells reams about the Democrat’s real motives.”

            Really? I thought Bennett was a Republican.

            “Note that Dean has just used a typical liberal disingenuous debating technique of bringing up a popular item as an alleged typical example.”

            Unfortunately it is a typical example. Women are over half the population Jim. Its too bad you don’t care about their health needs.

            “Now try to comprehend that the same motives are behind light rail, city planning and global warming.”

            Motives? Did I say anything about motives? I agree the *outcome* will further enrich the health care industry. I don’t agree that was the *motive* for reform. Its just the reality in a capitalist society that people find ways to make money off government policies. And yes, capitalists also find ways to make money on light rail, urban development, and changes to energy use. You have a problem with that? You are a socialist? imagine my surprise. I had you pegged the other way.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Discussion of BO care has got to be the most idiotic endevour ever created. Its like he sets up a treadmill and supporters and opponents alike cant wait to run on it.

    The health care bill is designed to make the current system intolerable and thus drive up public support for eventual passage of single payer.

    Its pretty transparent in how it does this – elimination of catastrophic insurance and taxing plans of those who do have insurance to pay for those who don’t are just two examples of hurting people to help government.

    Single payer is about accrual of power, and those obsessed with it. It is not about caring for you or giving you something better.

    This is why BO said he would sign anything that came out of congress. He didn’t care what it was because he knew whatever it was would result in escalating costs for government, thus, in his mind, increasing support for single payer rationing to restrain costs. This is also why BO did not enter into the legislative process very much when it came to writing the bill. He simply didnt care, as he didn’t have to for his purposes.

    No matter what came out he knew it would make health care either more costly to the government, or harm the the customer, preferably both. Those conditions, in BO’s strategy, will prompt calls for single payer.

    When BO sees Greece – He sees a dream unfolding before his eyes, not a nightmare. This is why he is driving everything as fast as he can into what lead Greece into its current mess. Its why we have the massive increase in government hiring, massive increases in government wages, and massive new entitlement spending with health care.

    There is simply no other explanation for the fiscal insanity of this administration. Fortunately, for this country at least, most people now recognize that insanity. We all hope that such sanity will prevail in the end as the clarity of BO’s financial mismanagement becomes more apparent.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    >Its just the reality in a capitalist society that people find ways to make money off government policies.

    Well actually it is the reality in any society.

    Sure it happens in capitalist societies and of course is even more prevalent on socialist ones.

    • valley p

      “Discussion of BO care has got to be the most idiotic endevour ever created.”

      OK, but then by your definition you are an idiot for chiming in.

      “The health care bill is designed to make the current system intolerable and thus drive up public support for eventual passage of single payer.”

      Dang. And here I thought that memo had been kept top secret.

      “This is why BO said he would sign anything that came out of congress.”

      I don’t think this is what he said, but never mind that. The point is, he largely left it up to Congress to pass something because that is their job description. He was being the anti-Clinton.

      “No matter what came out he knew it would make health care either more costly to the government, or harm the the customer, preferably both.”

      That was so sneaky of him. I mean, he pretended to actually care about getting coverage to 36 million more people, to cut costs, to stop wasting money in Medicare. Now if we play your logic out, he sent more troops to Afghanistan to make the situation worse so he could then dismantle the military (letting Gays in will only speed that up). He sabotaged the well in the Gulf so he could get an energy policy that drives us all back to living in caves lit by bear grease. He is deliberately wrecking the economy by taking measures that increased stock prices and put people back to work, knowing that by raising hope he can be there to pick up the pieces when the whole economy collapses. And he just backed Israel so that they will overreach again and collapse. I mean this guy is a freaking genius. Thanks for figuring him out for us Rupert. We were blind, but now we can see.

      “There is simply no other explanation for the fiscal insanity of this administration.”

      Yeah…actually there is. Its called Keynesianism. But never mind that. Your explanation makes so much more sense than actual economics.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Yeah…actually there is. Its called Keynesianism. But never mind that.

        God, because the fiscal policies of this administration are in not Keynesian. thats probably why you don’t want to get into it too much.

        Frankly I think you probably have no idea of what Keynesian economics is, since you seem to misapply the term with such alacrity on a regular basis.

        • valley p

          “Frankly I think you probably have no idea of what Keynesian economics is, since you seem to misapply the term with such alacrity on a regular basis. ”

          Wow Rupert…”alacrity”? I had to look that up. I’m not sure you used it quite the right way however. You think I misapply the term Keynesian with enthusiasm? And here I thought I was being droll.

          Here are some web accessed definitions of Keynesian:

          “the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes who advocated government monetary and fiscal programs intended to stimulate business activity and increase employment”
          wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

          “A prescriptive or normative economic stance according to which the state should actively stimulate economic growth and improve stability in the private sector through interest rates, taxation and public projects”
          en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Keynesianism

          “Keynesians: A group of economists who emphasize an activist governmental role in economic affairs through planned changes in the federal governments expenditures and taxes.”
          http://www.facsnet.org/index.php

          This isn’t what Obama has been doing? His policies are not intended to stimulate business activity and increase employment? He isn’t keeping interest rates low, hasn’t cut taxes, and isn’t spending money on public projects? He doesn’t support an activist government role in economic affairs through changes in spending and taxes?

          OK. You explain what he is up to then. Oh…wait. I get it. This goes back to your theory that he is deliberately trying to wreck the economy so he can take over the world. BWAHHAAHHA!

          There I go being alacritic again.

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