Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Douglas Wilson's Letter From Moscow

A Richly Deserved Thwapping

Douglas Wilson

Allow me to make a few random observations in pursuit of a larger truth.

First, Charles Murry recently wrote a book—By the People—a book that had a marvelous phrase in the subtitle, which was “liberty without permission.”

Secondly, and this might seem like a lurch, Nancy and I used to have a very good health insurance plan. We had one, in other words, until it got Obamafied. Once that happened, we couldn’t even find the pieces.

Third, having been liberated from our wonderful coverage by our betters in Washington, we decided to try Samaritan Ministries. A number of folks in our church had worked with them, and so it was that I had filled out many a pastoral recommendation. I was familiar, in other words.

And last, just before Christmas, I broke my right shoulder when I slipped on the ice. I had gone to help someone push a car out of a drift, and I had just gotten there. I hadn’t even tried anything yet, but was just scoping the situation out. I was just standing there, looking at the stuck car. I should perhaps add that I was standing there on the ice, looking at the stuck car, and judging from subsequent events, I gather that someone in the Council of El asked if Wilson needed to be thwapped on the ground, good and hard. The reply came in the affirmative, and so it was that an angel was dispatched. Again, judging from the event, I think the angel was the mighty angel found in Revelation 10:1.

Once the richly deserved thwapping was over, there were the bills—from the ER, the doctor, and now the physical therapy. We applied to Samaritan Ministries, the need was approved for publication, and the whole thing has been running like a recently oiled Singer sewing machine. We submit our bills, and we get checks from various saints around the country, along with encouraging notes from fellow believers who have prayed for us.

Now so what do all these things have in common?

We are living in a time of foment and transition.
If you used to own an old-fashioned widget factory, and you figured out a way to up your production of widgets by 10%, the chances are excellent that the man from the government can keep up with you. In other words, if you owned a dinosaur and you figured out a way to make your dinosaur run a little faster, what you had was a slightly faster dinosaur.

But we are no longer living in a world of “slightly faster.” We are living in a world called “completely different.” What this means is that innovation can occur in an area that is completely unregulated. When something like that happens, the man from the government cannot keep up. They don’t even have a department responsible for that yet. I am talking about when Jeff Bezos builds his first Savings & Loan on the moon.

Consider first the Internet itself. Our government functionaries have been desperately trying to get a bit and bridle on that (and have only partially succeeded), but the whole thing still got away from them pretty quickly, and still has the potential to run clean down the road, laws or no laws.

Another example, a smaller one, would be what Uber did to the taxi cab industry. In other words, a certain kind of innovation can catch the old dinosaur industries completely flat-footed. They can catch the government completely unprepared. They can demonstrate their effectiveness before any commie in the House of Representatives can lie to the cameras about what the results will be. We already know the results. We live in a time when technological innovations can find the cracks in the decrepit walls.

Now I have a question. Is the health care industry a dinosaur? Is the health insurance business a dinosaur? And is it possible that such dinosaurs cannot fix their foundational structural problems by the mere window dressing of allowing you to fill in your forms online?

Imagine, as John Lennon taught us, but not the way he taught us. Imagine a host of cash-only medical clinics all over the country. Imagine cash-only mobile doctors who find the walls of the clinic too confining. They can just ride around on their motorcycle, doing good and helping people. Imagine a network of ministries like Samaritan Ministries that negotiate prices with hospitals and other entities still enmeshed in Insurance World. But because they have determined beforehand that all free market medical clinics are reflecting actual market prices, they would not try to renegotiate those prices. I mean, an antibiotic prescription is ten bucks, and that’s final. And in one of these cash-only medical clinics it would not be possible to buy a five dollar plastic cup of custard, even if you wanted to.

As Uber shows, along with Airbnb, and for the hell-bound, Tinder, one of the things our new technology knows how to do is match up and introduce people in real time. So you live in the Seattle area, and you have a stuffed head that would make a taxidermist wonder how they did it.  “Where, oh, where could I find a doctor who wanted to write me a prescription for ten bucks? In the Seattle area? Why, look at this stuffed sinus icon on my phone!” And when that transaction is done, I have the serene feeling that there are ministry sharing networks that are predisposed to approve market solutions at market prices.

The cost of health care keeps rising because it is regulated. And regulated things have a tendency to swell and bloat, like a dead cow that has been in the Rio Grande for three days. We should ask ourselves if we have the wherewithal to start exercising a little health care liberty. Without permission.

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