By lex, on November 16th, 2007
I was listening to NPR on the way in to work today, and a couple of reporters were bandying about the Gubernator’s plan to make health insurance mandatory in the state of California. Suddenly it hit me: We’re all talking bunt singles here when we should be swinging for the fences.
Utterly lost in the debate about universal health care is the critically more important food consumption issue. After all, the reasoning goes, government has decided that it has a compelling interest in providing education, mail delivery and a common defense. The dominant political narrative on health care is that it ought to be provided by the government as well. But why stop there?
Most people are healthy, most the time, and a large percentage of those currently uninsured are young, healthy people for whom the unlikely prospects of catastrophic illness takes a distant second place to what’s for supper. Americans spend an astonishing $600 billion * a year on food – out of their own pockets! Without government provided health care people only have two choices: 1) Pay for private insurance on the off chance that they might get sick or 2) Land a job with medical benefits. I suppose the penny pinchers might add that they might make hard choices and forgo that cool, late-model, SUV they’ve had their eyes on but real Americans are too natively generous to deny those with moderate means their third car.
But here’s the thing: Without food they will almost certainly die. And there’s something in this plan for libertartians as well – rather than arresting people who defy the law and refuse to purchase health care, people are going to want to eat. Of their own free will. Otherwise they’ll get very, very hungry and soon won’t be able to think of anything else besides eating.
And think of the efficiencies: Once government has nationalized the food consumption industry it can use its position as a monopsony to set any price it wants for food. Farmers will have no choice but to provide at the rates carefully set by wise government bureaucrats – after all, unlike doctors, it isn’t like they can up sticks and take their farms elsewhere. If they protest, or if their children decide not to follow in their parent’s tractor path, we can remind them of the fate of those poor kulaks who sought to wreck the dreams of the proletariat people. In fact – and I may be getting ahead of myself here, but I’m getting all shivery with that old fashioned “do-gooder” frisson – once we’ve nationalized the consumption side of the food crisis, does it not make perfect sense to also nationalize the production side? This would represent a sort of “great leap forward,” if you follow me.
And this is a proposal with multiple “goods”: Soon the mushrooming health issue of American obesity would literally wither away, since those same sage bureaucrats who decided fair prices would also decide how much food of what kinds should be apportioned to each individual. We must be on guard against the deceptions of critics that will call such a scheme “rationed” food care. They are grubby, bourgeois splitters, comrades.
Soon, gentle readers, very soon we will all enjoy the same uniform, nutritious and tasty meals that are the hallmark of government provided food everywhere.
We will of course have to consider whether or not to permit a hybrid system which permits wealthier Americans to purchase their own food from private suppliers – the French model – although simple fairness dictates that such provisions, should they be permitted at all, ought to be subject to punitive taxation.
After all: Food is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Think of the children!
* 08-16-2018 Links Gone; no replacements found – Ed.