Saturday, August 18, 2012

The GOP's magical thinking

Karl Rove is the political operative running the largest funnel of anonymous money into the Republican party's battle for the presidency. On August 15, 2012, the once credible Wall Street Journal gave Rove a forum for the fiction he uses to reshape America:

“… While there would be no changes in Medicare for those 55 or older, starting in 10 years younger Americans … could either pick traditional Medicare or use … money the government spends on each Medicare enrollee to buy private insurance. The reasoning is based on a reliable truth: Competition will lower costs by using market forces to spur innovation and improvement.”

First, the statement is incoherent. Competition is the "market force." Rove is saying competition will lower costs by using competition to spur innovation… or market forces will lower costs by using market forces…" By using two words for the same force, Rove creates an illusion. The creation of a fictional entity to make belief plausible is characteristic of "magical thinking.”

Rove could have written more logically that "competition will lower costs, spur innovation and improvement," but that would have exposed the second magical element of his thought: the market forces he refers to do not actually exist in most areas of health care.

For there to be "market forces" there has to be a functioning "market." A market requires good information available to informed buyers who choose between multiple providers competing for their business. That is not how we make most health care decisions.

That's the GOP sleight of hand. The GOP doesn't support the fundamentals of efficient markets. The GOP doesn't advocate for good information. The GOP doesn't encourage multiple players in a market, especially if dominate companies make campaign contributions.

Instead, the GOP says "government is the enemy" even when government is protecting markets. The GOP calls rules that prevent oligopolies from ruining markets "antibusiness" when those rules are actually business positive. Bank deregulation harmed many businesses in America by turning mortgage markets into gambling casinos.

The delusions of Paul Ryan and Karl Rove that the Wizard of Competition will give us cheaper healthcare that is even better – Cheaper! Better! – is equally distructive. What they mean is that huge health care monopolies, some partly owned by Mitt Romeny's Bain Capital, will get even more of our health care dollars. That's not healthy for anyone.

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