Let’s Think About Rationing

by Burt on August 30, 2009

Recent discussions of the Obamacare plans have made clear that, if adopted, the rationing of health care will occur.  It could hardly be otherwise–a wave of new persons enrolled in the federal plan will not be followed by a rise in the number of physicians.  Rationing must be the result.
Critics of rationing have (rightly) focused on the loss of liberty and property.  People will no longer control their own medical futures; a panel of so-called experts will.  If you are too old, you don’t get a hip replacement; if you are sickly you don’t receive heart surgery.  And so on.
A neglected point in the argument is that rationing will lead to increased corruption and distrust of government.  Many physicians will probably do surgeries and other services on a cash basis against existing rules.  Also, some patients will circumvent rules and receive medical services contrary to bureaucratic regulations. 
Black Markets always occur when rationing is instituted.  In World War II, for example, gasoline was rationed for much of the war.  In 1944, long after the rules and enforcement machinery for gas sales were in place, Marshall Clinard of the Office of Price Administration (in his book The Black Market) estimated that 10 percent of all gasoline was illegally bought and sold.  Both car owners and gas station employees were in on the illegal sales–an army of bureaucrats tried to stop the black market in gas but few were caught.  One enterprising lad stole a 250 pound drum of coupon paper and sold counterfeit ration stamps throughout New England.
Fortunately World War II ended the next year and the damage to the integrity of our political system was not permanent.  But during the time of rationing, many Americans protested the existence of rationing, the favoritism of who got extra gas and who didn’t, and the corruption of illegal sales going on throughout the country.  With Obamacare a reality, can our political system withstand the attacks that will surely come when we have a favored group, politically connected or clever, receiving medical treatment denied by law to the rest of the population?


Fatal error: Cannot assign by reference to overloaded object in /home/folsom/burtfolsom.com/wp-content/themes/thesis_16/lib/functions/comments.php on line 318