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Your Opinion: Pundit attacks efficient programs

Your Opinion: Pundit attacks efficient programs

August 15th, 2011 by Tony Smith, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

America is rich with wealthy think tanks supported by our wealthy who wish to influence the public debate. The News Tribune is publishing a series of discussions under RedBlueAmerica which features Ben Boychuk from the Manhattan Institute.

In a recent column Mr. Boychuk states that during the New Deal Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats made a pact to provide government assistance to citizens through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Actually, these programs have expanded in scope since the 1930s. While the intent may have been laudable, Mr. Boychuk alleges these programs are now destroying America.

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." So wrote the ancient moralist Plutarch. Boychuk ignores the glaring inequities of today's America. Our wealthy are at their greatest pinnacle. The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than 150 million Americans combined.

Boychuk cites the problem as the expanding cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Some alarming statistics were stated. Yet, he attacks the programs which are America's most efficient. In the last three decades Medicare and Medicaid have spent 40 percent less than the private sector. In the private sector medical costs have almost no containment. That is why Americans spend twice as much for health care as any other citizen in the world. Recent figures put American health costs at $2.4 trillion a year. If we had Canadian or European health care we would spend $1.2 trillion less and have equivalent care.

Truly, our public discourse has been entirely about problems we don't have, at the expense of dealing with the problems we do have. The Boychuks and Alan Simpsons of the world do not like what they call entitlements. I spent my working life paying into Medicare and am entitled to the results. That is no different than buying a government bond and being entitled to the benefits.

Conservative politicians have prevented Medicare from operating with the kind of cost constraints the Veterans program has in place. Politicians have prohibited citizens from importing drugs from Canada with bogus issues of quality control. The drugs are the same. Medical schools limit the number of physicians to control their market. Health insurance companies gouge us with endless restraints driving up costs. Single payer like Medicare would prevent that.

Boychuk hints Americans are spoiled and expect too much government support. In reality, politicians shelter the medical industry at our expense.