Human Nature and the LOUC

The one missing ingredient which most often results in effectuation of the law of unintended consequences (LOUC) is human behavior.  When new cars came out with anti-lock brake systems, it was heralded as a breakthrough in the advancement of automobile safety.  Thousands of lives would be saved, so it was thought, because cars could now stop far more quickly and safely than before.  There was just one thing wrong with all the good intentions and new day dawning pronouncements — human nature.  Guess what?  People just drove faster and waited until longer to stop.  It might be argued that the advent of ABS increased automobile mishaps.

When Ralph Nader and company decided cars were too big and the environment too fragile, CAFE standards and smaller cars were introduced.  Surprise, smaller cars are also more dangerous and a lot more people started to die in automobile crashes, per capita.  The environment one, American motorists zero.  And the LOUC result: millions of people driving Sequoia’s, Yukon’s, Denali’s and the like — vehicles which easily burn as much gas as those old, big tail fin Buicks and Caddy’s we used to drive. 

Rachel Carson, of “Silent Spring” fame (infamy?), alarmed the world that DDT was a horrible poison and must be banished!  Like sheep, world governments, sometimes pressured by the U.S., eliminated widespread use of the chemical.  And yet another unintended consequence raised it’s ugly head – millions began dying from malaria – mostly in the Third World (Note to NY Times headline writer, “New Govt Policy Hits Poor Hardest.”)  So, after being reintroduced, people discovered that DDT wasn’t so bad after all, especially considering the alternative, and it had the extra added attraction of being lethal to swarms of disease ridden mosquitoes.

It has been said that the road  to H*LL is paved with good intentions – and so it may be.  If so, government at all levels is keeping that bit of infrastructure well-paved.  Let’s take the “crisis” in health care just for giggles. 

Many people don’t have healthcare.  The reason most don’t is because they are young and healthy.  They are, in effect, gambling that they will not need health coverage anytime soon.  They choose to spend that discretionary income on toys, e.g. video games, cars, motorcycles, jet skis and so on.  Personal choice. 

And, indeed, many of the most expensive patients, e.g. drug addicts, gang-bangers, etc., wouldn’t buy health insurance if they could.  Why should they?  They will be taken care of at the expense of everybody else.  Except that runs up the cost and horribly skews the economic burden of healthcare. 

The law that no one be turned away from hospitals is a great and humane idea, but the impact of human nature was not considered.  Since there is no such thing as a free lunch, such a “come one come all” system will sooner rather than later become economically untenable.  LOUC result?  No one can afford healthcare anymore, or soon they won’t. 

So now we turn to another side of the “crisis” — provider costs.

Well, this huge cost of healthcare is driven by physicians and institutions being forced to practice defensive medicine.  Why not run $2000 worth of unnecessary tests if it will save you from a $20 million lawsuit?  The simple solution of course would be to limit medical liability, i.e. tort reform.  Anybody heard that term lately?  No, no.  The malpractice jackpot system, another great idea whose consequences weren’t considered, is now helping to make standard healthcare unaffordable.  And remember, it’s mostly lawyers in Congress, so they aren’t about to de-incentivize the malpractice game.  They may eventually have to leave govt service and return to actually earning a living, if you can call convincing juries that C-Sections cause multiple sclerosis “earning a living.”  (John Edwards, call your office — and quit fooling around with that bimbo!)

(We won’t consider that antiquated, WWII holdover: the third-party payer system, at this time since it is more an example of govt programs which never die.  But, suffice to say, people use far more of something they don’t see themselves actually paying for and complain about it less, as well.  For instance, if people were writing ten thousand dollar checks to the IRS every year, rather than simply ignoring the amount withheld from their paychecks, there would be far more opposition to confiscatory taxation.  In any event, a system which was designed to skirt wartime wage controls by adding healthcare as a benefit is yet another reason for exorbitant healthcare costs.)

Now the proffered solution is an exquisite example of the LOUC (or so I’d like to think.  It could easily be a calculated attempt to simply rearrange society’s “winners and losers,” i.e. a govt-imposed scheme launched precariously on the vague and politically suseptible chimera of “fairness” vs the far more realistic and equitable merit-based system.)  The proposed solution in question?  Wait for it…Nationalized Health Care, of course.

There are so many things wrong with nationalized health care it’s hard to know where to begin.  For starters, we could simply look at Britain, Canada or anywhere else in the world it has actually been tried.  What a disaster!  Think you were frustrated waiting on line for two hours at the DMV only to be told you have the wrong form?  Now imagine enduring that nightmare while sick as a dog.   For greater detail, read one of Theodore Darymple’s books, e.g. “Not with a Bang, but a Whimper” or practically any other of his masterful tomes.  It is reported that some people wait years for simple procedures and months just to see a physician.  Sounds pretty grim to me.  What’s the LOUC result?  Folks with money travel to countries where such draconian regulations are not in effect — like they now do to the U.S.  In other words, the rich get healthier and the poor get sicker.

Next up, the real hidden prize in Nationalized Health Care — Rationing.  Oh yeah.  Over 55?  Sorry, but dialysis will not be cost effective for the state.  We’ll make you as comfortable as possible.  Life saving surgeries?  Sorry, not if you’re over 60.  No no.  Way too expensive.  It may be the first time in our history as a nation when the expected lifespan begins to DECREASE with each successive generation.  And, of course, it will be illegal for doctors to practice outside the system (that might be “unfair!”)  LOUC result?   People become deparate and offer BRIBES in order to live.  In other words — rampant corruption.

And exactly what will induce doctors to endure ten years of medical training to work in a system where they will make no more that the average plumber (no offense to plumbers)?  One of two LOUC results will obtain.  Either, doctors will flee the U.S. to countries where they ARE able to make earnings commensurate with their level of training, or qualifications to become an MD will be significantly lessened, thereby lowering the overall quality of medical care.  Are we beginning to get the picture, boys and girls?

And we haven’t even considered political abuse and other types of chicanery.  When such a scheme comes into play in the U.S. I will guarantee one thing.  Govt officials, starting with members of Congress, will be exempt.  Soon, of course, it will become obvious to all concerned that the gold plated and highly exclusive world of Congressional healthcare (basically, the cream of the former system of private care, but now paid for with tax money) is far superior to anything available to the average Joe (or Jane.)  So, politically powerful govt employee unions will lobby for and get their own special healthcare system.  Eventually, the landscape wil begin to resemble the old Soviet Union, where party members live well and everyone else lives poorly, if at all.  LOUC, a two tired system which essentially allows one group to live a long and healthy life and another, well, take a number and stand in that line over there.  The term “divisive” barely describes conditions in post Nationalized Healthcare America.

And so it is with all govt programs intending to “better” anyone, but which do not consider human nature.  Consider the govt-devised Section 8 housing to “help” poor people have low cost housing.  What was the outcome?  Well, it just so happens I worked my way through college pulling maintenance on Section 8 housing for a landlord/owner.  I replaced back doors almost weekly because the kids wrecked them just as regularly.  I replaced bathroom floors because the family took showers without benefit of a shower curtain.  I replaced windows because somebody got drunk and broke the place up.  Why was this?  Sorry, it was not because the tennants were “bad” people — it was because they were HUMAN people.  If you don’t pay much for it and don’t have to fix it if it breaks, what’s your incentive to keep it in repair or respect the property?  LOUC result: housing projects which resemble war zones, low income areas even firefighters won’t go into without police protection — indeed, areas where the police themselves won’t even go into without at least ten other police units.  (And the resultant cries for “decent, affordable housing.”  Of course, those may be intended, as previously alluded to.)

This really shouldn’t be news to anyone.  Ever heard the expression, “Beaten like a rented mule”?  Conservatives don’t “hate” poor people.  It is simply that we know, with few exceptions, certain qualities and choices can move people out of poverty and certain others can keep them there.  We believe that motivating and teaching folks to change so that they acquire the former qualities and make the former choices is far superior than giving people stuff they haven’t earned.  It’s similar to the difference between teaching folks to fish and giving them a fish.  LOUC result?  One group becomes productive, self-sufficient and happy, while the other becomes dependent, grievance-mongering and never satisfied with today’s portion (having not earned it.) 

There are so many examples of this I honestly don’t know where to stop.  God help us if our economy is ever overtaken by the Nanny state.  Why will people work without hope of reward?  Remember the “employee” at the old Soviet tractor factory?  When asked his salary by a Western reporter, he responded, “Well, it’s like this.  They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”