Recently, while talking at the Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire, President Obama dismissed some concerns about the health care reform the Democrats have been pushing.
Another legitimate concern, he said, was whether a public insurance plan he favors would overwhelm the private insurance system. Obama said it should not.
“If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine,” he said. “It’s the post office that’s always having problems.”
Hmm… of the three large services that deal with moving mail–UPS, FedEx, and USPS–it is the United States Postal Service that is “always having problems.” Is it a coincidence that the USPS is also the only service managed by the government with a government monopoly on first-class mail? I don’t think so. I think the comment is a prime example of why Obama shouldn’t talk about things unless he has his teleprompter present.
The obvious follow-up question to his comment is to ask why Americans should be anxious to move from private-run health care to government-run health care when Obama’s example shows that private-run mail offers a much better service than the government-run option.
So let’s take a look at the government’s track record, based on some information sent to me recently in an email.
- The U.S. Postal Service was established under Benjamin Franklin in 1775 by the second Continental Congress. It has been managed by the government for 234 years, and it is broke. It ran a $2.8 billion deficit in 2008.
- Social Security was established under FDR in 1935. It has been managed by the government for 74 years, and it is broke. Worse, it is a Ponzi scheme that is inherently unstable.
- Fannie Mae was established under FDR in 1938 under FDR. It has been managed and legislated by the government for 71 years, and it is broke.
- The War on Poverty started under LBJ in 1964. It has been managed by the government for 45 years, and it doesn’t work. Trillions of dollars have been taken from taxpayers to go to the poor. The poverty rate in the U.S. had been falling in the decade before government stepped in, but since then, the rate has remained pretty static.
- Medicare and Medicaid were established under LBJ in 1964. They have been managed by the government for 44 years, and they are broke.
- Freddie Mac was established under Nixon in 1970. While a government-sponsored enterprise, it has been legislated by the government for 39 years, and it is broke.
- The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was passed under Bush in 2008. $700 billion has been squandered buying up assets worth far less than that.
- And most recently, the “Cash for Clunkers” program was established under Obama in 2009. The initial grant of $1 billion ran out in one month, even though the financial geniuses in the government thought it would last four times as long. So Congress approved spending an additional $2 billion in the program. To boil it down, the government paid out either $3,500 or $4,500 for cars with a trade-in worth of $1,475. This is not a wise use of our money. Oh, and it’s gone.
Government has no ability to spend money wisely or efficiently, as demonstrated by the track record it has amassed in the past century. So why should we even conceive of giving government control over America’s health care system? Many times on commercials I have heard some rapidly-spoken variation of the following phrase: “past performance is not indicative of future results.” But with the government, past performance is practically a promise of future results.
Government-run health care? History tells me that the best answer is “Thank you, but no.”