money for nothing

Great song by that title, sung by Dire Straits. This thought, and perhaps the song, could be what inspired last night’s insipid and predictable State of the Union address by a community organizer brought in for the occasion.

There were the usual big government nostrums, and that always clever appeal for Americans to ignore economic facts and support raising the minimum wage. Yes, of course businesses will simply raise their wages while employing the same number of workers. Oh, right. They’ll likely have to not hire so many workers if it costs the business more. Damn you, balance sheets and accountants, damn you all to Hell.

But if there was one teleprompted line by Obama that was the equivalent of waiting for unicorns to fly overhead, it was this one concerning health care costs:

“We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.”

There is nothing wrong with wanting to somehow base our medical expenditures on the “quality of care.” There is something magical, however, about denying that actual, real world costs will always be based on “the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital.”

Another problem with basing any enterprise on the “quality of care” is the fundamental question: quality of care according to who?

In Obamaworld, it would be a panel of worthies, experts, who in the progressive world of community organizers would be far better able to judge the “quality of care” than us mere mortals who receive that health care.

In the real world, we might call those panels of experts who determine whether we’ve gotten “quality” health care by this name: death panels. Death panels, who will decide for us when we’ve had enough “tests ordered or days spent in the hospital.”

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