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Saturday, March 08, 2008

George McGovern's Surprising Thoughts

George McGovern was the 1972 Democratic nominee for President (He lost, in case you forgot), and a Senator from South Dakota. So, much to my surprise, he wrote a piece fitting of a GOP capitalist called "Freedom Means Responsibility" in Friday's Wall Street Journal.

McGovern blasts both the right and left for their "paternalism" on issues such as sub prime lending, health insurance (especially regulations by states), and payday loans. Surprising issues to hear someone from the left argue about leaving alone!

I'm not sure if what he's writing about health care is a jab at government managed care as a whole, or just on the silly regulations many states have put into effect, you can read it and figure that out:

Health-care paternalism creates another problem that's rarely mentioned: Many people can't afford the gold-plated health plans that are the only options available in their states.

Buying health insurance on the Internet and across state lines, where less expensive plans may be available, is prohibited by many state insurance commissions. Despite being able to buy car or home insurance with a mouse click, some state governments require their approved plans for purchase or none at all. It's as if states dictated that you had to buy a Mercedes or no car at all.

Wisconsin is a great example, the legislators complain incessantly about the rising cost, but every year or so add something to the list that is "required coverage" to sell policies in the state. Oddly, they are the same legislature that is considering required "al a carte pricing" for cable TV, because requiring consumers to purchase channels they don't watch isn't fair to them.

He sums up the entire article in a thought that is surprisingly simple, but positively true:

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.

Unfortunately many in today's legislative world won't listen to him, believing that government knows best, or should manage everything to protect us. We, as the consumer end up paying for the paternalism, through higher health care costs, more difficult to get mortgages, etc. But, hey, at least we are safe, right.

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