Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thomas Sowell on The Art of the Impossible

"Someone called politics "the art of the possible." But, in the era of the modern welfare state, politics is largely the art of the impossible.

Those people morbid enough to keep track of politicians' promises may remember how Barack Obama said that ObamaCare would lower medical costs -- and lots of people bought it.

But if you stop and think, however old-fashioned that may seem these days, do you seriously believe that millions more people can be given medical care and vast new bureaucracies created to administer payment for it, with no additional costs?

Just as there is no free lunch, there is no free red tape. Bureaucrats have to eat, just like everyone else, and they need a place to live and some other amenities. How do you suppose the price of medical care can go down when the costs of new government bureaucracies are added to the costs of the medical treatment itself?

By the way, where are the extra doctors going to come from, to treat the millions of additional patients? Training more people to become doctors is not free. Politicians may ignore costs but ignoring those costs will not make them go away.

With bureaucratically controlled medical care, you are going to need more doctors, just to treat a given number of patients, because time that is spent filling out government forms is time that is not spent treating patients. And doctors have the same 24 hours in the day as everybody else.

When you add more patients to more paperwork per patient, you are talking about still more costs. How can that lower medical costs? But although that may be impossible, politics is the art of the impossible. All it takes is rhetoric and a public that does not think beyond the rhetoric they hear.

You can just call "medical care for all" a "right" and you are home free with a major part of the public. Those who are more skeptical can be dismissed as people who just are not as compassionate. That puts you on the side of the angels against the forces of evil -- and that is a proven winning strategy in politics.” - Thomas Sowell


“So it’s no surprise that governments with vast powers routinely behave stupidly: they are attempting to do the impossible while being overseen by the ill-informed.” - Don Boudreaux

Link to the entire article by Thomas Sowell appears below:




  1. Dr. Sowell has become a cranky old man in his retirement days. There is always someone to criticize.

    Parhaps he could offer some positive recommendations other than that poorer people should just live their lives without medical care.

    1. That is not at all what he has suggested. The inevitable increase in costs will mean "poorer people" will have less access to health care than they do now.
      This is one (of the many, many) issues with Obamacare, it confuse health insurance with access to health care. The two are completely different.