Now that we have concluded the annual orgy of juvenile candy extortion manifested as Halloween, and are now into the much more pensive Day of the Dead, I'm prompted to look at the potential cause of the demise of the America in which I live. In our society today, there is an unchallenged belief held by some that private is always better than public. The health insurance fracas is just one issue which incorporates this belief. There are many others. This belief could result in the end of America
One has to wonder why the alleged fears of the government running things merits so much frightened attention while the blatant and abusive excesses of the private sector are deemed beneficial to society as a whole no matter how many get hurt by the perpetrators. It is becoming obvious to me that the difference has to do with whether or not a very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands is materially benefiting from an enterprise which exposes the general public to some variety of hazard, especially physical or economic. The public is too busy maintaining their relatively meager existence by working to be able to defend themselves from these predators, and it has been government's role since the Great Depression to be their champion. The only problem with this scenario is that prior to the Great Recession, the predators have taken over the government and are using it to protect themselves from We, the People.
In one such instance, private mining companies want to cut costs by removing the tops of mountains to gain easy access to coal seams, yet the debris created by this process has in another instance already wreaked havoc on a public unprotected from private sector abuses. This lack of defense is due to major cuts in enforcement ability foisted upon the public by our elected representatives double dipping from the private dollar till while on the public dime. But wait! There's more! On the other side of that "clean" energy commodity's usage, further damage which could have been prevented by governmental oversight has also occurred. Oh, the humanity!
One can easily extend this metaphor to the banking sector via the real estate mortgage crisis. The next wave of foreclosures is about to hit, and many banks are already being warned that if they are in danger of going under, there will be no rescue from the Federal Reserve. Yet an amount of Your Money which roughly equals the entire annual economic activity of the American economy (broken down here) has been pledged to rescue the big Wall Street banks, whose foolish gambling once responsible oversight was ended brought about the latest crisis.
One has to wonder what would have happened if real regulation was restored after the Lincoln Savings scandal, or the Silverado Savings scandal, but that very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands saw to it that they themselves were protected from legal retribution, and not the public for whom such protections meant that this very vocal and self-centered minority with lots of time on their hands could not do them harm. But that would be bad, for business couldn't make an easy profit at the public's expense!
Can our elite businessmen compete without resorting to illegal, immoral, or traitorous activities? One has to wonder.
Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens attempted to build a wind-powered generation facility, but was stymied by the credit crunch brought about by the big Wall Street bank collapse and the difficulty of getting a transmission line built to connect to the existing energy grid. He blames it all on tight money, but is there a hint that maybe Texas' regulatory power was brought to bear to pressure Pickens not to move so quickly and threaten existing oil fortunes? The clue lies within the news that Pickens is planning several smaller facilities in other states. Meanwhile, other Texans are making deals with Chinese wind power interests to create a much larger facility along the same lines Pickens pioneered. I guess being right doesn't protect you from retribution from those whose oxen got gored.
And what of health care? No matter what the need, only the private sector is going to benefit from what "reform" emerges from the corrupted Congress. The actions being taken appear only to protect existing providers from what was going to be a total collapse of health care in the near future. According to the Congressional Budget Office, health care costs are expected to roughly double over the next 15 years (page 3 [PDF]). A goodly chunk of this increase in cost is due to those wonderful new drugs and treatments advertised on the Sunday morning Talking Head shows, but which your insurance won't cover due to their "experimental" nature. The National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC) offers similar numbers, breaking down the current health care cost for a family of four at about $13,400 a year (according to my real-world employer, my personal coverage cost is similar, so I trust this figure) and is expected to grow by 2018 to about $25,000 per year at a rate about double the expected cost-of-living wage adjustments. NCHC also reports that employer health care costs now exceed profits, which adds incentive for employers to drop medical coverage for employees.