Bryan Griffin: Prudence And Total Cost

Apr 17, 2019

Every decision about our lives that we cede to the government has significant ramifications in the future.

Does today’s average voter have the prudence to be able to understand what they give up in the long run when they vote for short term gain?

The Democrats running for president are betting they don’t. If every Democrat promise was understood in its true cost—that is what will be forever changed for the worse, or what we will each pay down the line—I don’t believe they would have a fraction of the support they enjoy today.

Prudence is defined as being wise in practical affairs, specifically as by providing for the future.

Every policy objective or promise made by a political candidate for office should be judged by its total and complete cost.

As always, healthcare is a prime example of the left’s shortsightedness in its promises.

If the healthcare industry becomes a government managed industry, and healthcare a government distributed product, we lose so much more than the incredible amount of tax dollars it will cost to implement.

We lose innovation in the healthcare industry, as those producing and delivering medical products and services are no longer incentivized by the free market to make their products better or more effective.

We lose competition among doctors and providers to be the best at serving their customers. Patients will wait for weeks, months—even years on end for simple medical procedures as providers become less interested in keeping the customer happy (they can’t go anywhere else!) and as customers begin to realize just how much they can get from the system for free. Hospitals become homeless shelters or elderly care facilities as the cost to remain in them is no longer a factor to the patient.

Furthermore, to enact a universal healthcare system, the government would have to deem healthcare a “human right” to justify its intrusion into the industry. Sanders et al. have already incorporated this terminology into their vocabulary. If healthcare, a service or product, becomes a human right that people are entitled to, then that necessarily means that the right to not provide the service or the right to not produce the product is no longer held by the provider or producer. People will be forced to participate or produce as deemed necessary by the government. And once the government gets into the business of defining human rights beyond life, liberty, and pursuit of our own destinies, then where does it stop? Can the government endlessly add to the list of “rights” that people should be afforded for free, to the extent that no one has any say in where they work, how much they are paid, or what they do? This is the ultimate end-game of socialism. The state dictates the levels of production, wages, and decides upon people’s job titles and hours.

Letting the government endlessly decide what people are and are not entitled to opens a door to the worst forms of big government. A step further, will we let the government decide matters of life and death? Who is and who isn’t human?

This frightening thought is already happening in the abortion debate. Wherever one believes the line should be drawn when it comes to abortion, the left no longer seems to be willing to draw a line at all. There now seems to be a question in the collective national discourse of Democratic candidates and policymakers as to whether a baby delivered alive after a failed abortion attempt should be given medical attention. The politics of protecting and expanding access to abortion from the left has now called into question the status of a delivered baby. Where does its humanity begin in relation to the choice of the parent or the government? Is this really a road we as a society are willing to go down?

After the subject of generationally-removed reparations was broached this week, many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates jumped on board with the idea. The horrible injustice of slavery notwithstanding, if the government can now decide to hold one generation of citizens responsible for the actions of previous, what other guilt or sentence can it unilaterally assign?

Democrats make enticing promises and use social justice to appeal to the modern moral conscience to support them. But they willfully ignore the precedents and allowances these policies set when it comes to what the government must do or take from citizens to enact them.

Yes, conservatives believe there is a role for government. The destitute and the sick who cannot help themselves need access to a safety net. The free market can care for many in this category; the government can enact a responsible and finite safety net for those remaining. There is a need to right wrongs and fight for a more equal society. But the solutions offered for these things must be measured against the potential for atrocious government abuse down the road.

Are we going to vote for policies now that gives government the ability to decide our rights, hold us guilty for the crimes of others, or be the arbiter of who is and isn’t human?

Or will we have the prudence to rein-in the promises and the politicians delivering them from opening the floodgates to extraordinarily grave costs in the future?

Are we considering the full and total cost of the policies we support?

These are the choices we bring with us to the ballot box.

Bryan Griffin of the London Center for Policy Research is a lawyer and author who specializes in American policy in the Middle East.

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