Monday, August 17, 2009

Speaking truth to power

Last week, in a WSJ op-ed Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey proposed a free-market alternative to improve the nation’s healthcare system:

  1. Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs).
  2. Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
  3. Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
  4. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover.
  5. Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
  6. Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.
  7. Enact Medicare reform.
  8. Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance …
This is a fairly standard list of market-oriented reforms, not all that controversial particularly now that the public option is in trouble.

However, while Whole Foods has long been the darling of the organic food-loving crowd, apparently Mackey’s op-ed has brought calls for a boycott of the company from the cultural left.

Is it that he’s a libertarian? That he’s proposing free market solutions? Or that he’s opposing President Obama? Or perhaps it was the confrontational lead paragraphs of his op-ed:
“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.”

—Margaret Thatcher

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment.
Somehow, the phrase “speaking truth to power” doesn’t seem to be as popular as it was a year or two ago.

1 comment:

Dominie Garcia said...

i'm impressed by his honesty...interesting, yet not surprising that the same ones who swear by the altruism of WF are not upset. makes me laugh, actually.