Of course, there's going to be stiff competition for the worst campaign ad of the year. So far, though, the dumbest ad, the one most insulting to voter intelligence this year to date comes from John Kerry, concerning medical costs. He says that just the paperwork of medical care costs billions of dollars every year, and that he's going to cut the cost of medical care by cutting paperwork.
Yes, it is well known that medical paperwork costs a lot of money, but a quickie promise to cut health care costs by cutting paperwork is just stupid, and insulting to the intelligence of voters.
For starters, how's he going to do this? This sounds very much like the episode of Yes, Minister in which Sir Humphrey was told to cut bureaucracy, and responded by hiring a bunch of people to study the problem. I'm sure President Kerry would appoint a commission, draft some reports and recommendations, and pass a new Medical Paperwork Reduction Act. Then doctors and insurance companies can each add on a new office worker to ensure compliance with the MPRA.
In truth, quite a bit of paperwork in medical practice is absolutely necessary. They have to keep track of which patients are getting what treatments. Stuff has to be kept up for legal liability reasons. HMOs and insurance companies of all types need to know what they're getting socked for. Much of this falls beyond what even a good, smart, politically brave president could do anything about - much less John Kerry.
That may be more the humor point, but more important is that paperwork is not the main reason medicine is expensive. Medicine costs a LOT. It takes up a significant share of our GDP, and our personal budgets.
This is largely because we're asking a LOT of medicine. We're basically the richest country in world history with the accumulated knowledge of all history in science and medicine. It's natural that we spend our wealth on our health. After all it's the most important thing.
However, as the great Robert Heinlein liked to say, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." (TANSTAAFL) Fancy new ultra-sound equipment and amazing new drugs just flat cost a bunch of money, and they have to be paid for. Those scientists and technicians don't work for free.