Cash For Influence. Don’t Reduce the Cash. Reduce the Influence.

So the revelations keep coming.

Politicians, (namely Labour politicians, namely Stephen Byers et. al) have been selling their influence for a fee. The Tories shouldn’t be too self-righteous about it, they’ve done things like this, and worse. However, this is really a stunning story, and surely it’d normally be the death-knell for a government. For some reason, that hasn’t happened.

The Times has reported the scandal, (see the link above) but no one seems to be running that heavily on it. I wonder why?

Alas, I fear that it’s because we’re all in a daze after the never ending expenses scandal. I think that pushed the boat out for us. However, the expenses scandal is chickenfeed compared to the idea that Byers can describe himself as “a taxi for hire.” This is corporatism/socialism of its nastiest, most cynical form.

Oh, and this actually brings us to the US health care mess. Yes, they are related.

President Obama has won. The US will now have a massive expansion in the state involvement in health care. The mainstream media in the UK is treating this like it’s a wonderful thing. But it’s another disaster. As I mention in the LBJ chapter of my book about the American Presidents, President Johnson’s plans to create two new massive bureaucracies in the form of Medicare and Medicaid cost a fortune, made health care more expensive, and reduced the amount of quality care available for everyone.

If the government in the US regulated the grocery business as much as it did the health business, then people would literally be starving in the streets. Remember those haunting images of people queuing for hours in communist Russia for a loaf of bread? But because there’s a total free market in the food-shopping biz, competition keeps quality high and prices low. You pay for your food. If you don’t like the price/quality, shop elsewhere. That’s why most grocers don’t poison their customers. They want them to come back. The good businesses thrive, and the bad businesses die out.

As I’ll explain in detail in my forthcoming book (Treason and Other Good Ideas), the health care industry in the US was the best in the world not too many years ago. In terms of quality of care and innovation it still is. But it went from number 1 in the world to number 37 in a very short time. Why? Because politicians took it over. And the special interests swooped. The politicians, in a cynical power grab, stole huge amounts of influence in what would have otherwise been the private buying decisions of millions of individuals.

When American health care was the best in the world, (and people purchased health insurance like they purchase car insurance, or home insurance), America was number one. Now it’s a 50/50 split between government owned/private health insurance (with government over-regulating the private half too), the US has fallen through the league table. That’s a bit fat failure. A modern tragedy.

And, in a nutshell, here’s my problem with President Obama’s plan: if health care was comparatively great when it was 100% private (with both private charity and the doctors Hippocratic Oath helping the poorest people), and then it started to seriously suck once the government got involved from the late sixties until now, (with the relationship between doctor and patient being forever severed, because the health insurance company is now the customer), how can more of what made it suck save it?

I sincerely worry about the quality of care available to the poorest and middle-class Americans in the coming years. And I worry even more about the horrific unfunded liability that this giant mess will leave for future generations. Look at the figures of this ‘cost-neutral’ plan. None of it adds up. The president hasn’t consulted an economist of any intellegence. He’s consulted a witchdoctor.

Now let’s look at why this story relates to Byers and the ‘cash for influence’ scandal. Basically, the socialized health care system that will now infect the American people was the result of exactly the same forms of ‘cash for influence’.

In this health care debate, the one group that was totally on Obama’s side was the private health insurance lobbyists. Notice how very few in the media have mentioned this? Let me say it again, the large private health insurance corporations funded the propaganda that helped get Obama’s health plan passed.

Think about it, why would the health insurance corporations be the main group behind this? Isn’t it obvious? They’ve bought something with their money – billions in extra revenue without having to innovate their services and lower prices, as they would have had to have done if the president merely chose to deregulate the industry. They bought the huge influence and power that Obama now wields. And how the hell did they manage to push this through with the Democrats using “deem & pass”rulings? That’s about as anti-democratic as you can get isn’t it?

So in both of these unfortunate stories, undue influence has been paid for. The anti-capitalists will shriek and wail (though less at the health care tragedy because they love the ‘attack’ that appears to have been inflicted on the free market), but as always, they miss the point. The failure here is nothing to do with capitalism. It has nothing to do with the money that has changed hands to purchase influence. It’s to do with the fact that this influence EXISTS to begin with.

The political class simply have way way WAY too much power over our lives. End of.

If you want to see reason, logic and truth win the battle for ideas, then you MUST severely limited what government is allowed to do. In a ‘cash for influence’ scandal, don’t reduce the cash. You can’t. Just reduce the influence that cash can buy. It’s time to neuter government.