Henry Hazlitt Trumps Bill Maher

I recently came across this article by Bill Maher on the Huffington Post. Maher’s groundbreaking claim: capitalist greed is ruining America! The only way to fix it is — of course — to nationalize industry, especially — since that’s the current message from on high — healthcare.

But like everything else that’s good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they’re run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They’re not hospitals anymore; they’re Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America’s largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it’s not a right, it’s a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they’re always pushing the Jell-O.

Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like “recision,” where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you’ve been paying into your plan for years.

When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what’s in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

The entire article is incredibly naive and shows absolutely no understanding of basic economics. Maher decries the conditions of prisons, hospitals, and the media, and concludes that all these things are so bad because of the profit motive. But just because they are bad now, and run for profit, does not mean that the profit motive was what made them bad. Had Maher ever read Henry Hazlitt he would know that the desire of individuals to maximize profits and minimize losses is what allows an economy to function. Without this, it is impossible to determine prices or for producers to calculate the supply of their goods to meet the demand. This is why centrally planned governments always fail: economies come about from the free interplay of various interests, and the attempt to circumvent those interests ends up destroying economic activity itself.

Naturally, Maher has not read Henry Hazlitt. His article is based on appeals to emotion, rather than to logic or economics. In this, he is emblematic of the rest of the Left when it comes to socialized healthcare: he only knows that it feels right, that any person of conscience must stand with the poor uninsured, and concludes that therefore we need to socialize. He does not, however, consider the costs that dumping the profit motive will bear. And all this from someone who supposedly admires Ron Paul.

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