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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HL Mencken,National Health Coverage Council and Public Choice Theory

Recently, Dr. Donald J. Boudreaux in a commentary in his column,"Eonomics in Many Lessons", featured some quotes from one of my all time favoties, H.L. Mencken. Mencken's comments suggests that he understood the core thoughts illuminated by Tullock and Buchanan in their writings that informed us of what has become known as Public Choice Theory.

Mencken said:

"the survival into our enlightened age of a concept hatched in the black days of absolutism the concept, to wit, that government is something that is superior to and quite distinct from all other human institutions ... a transcendental organism composed of aloof and impersonal powers, devoid wholly of self-interest and not to be measured by merely human standards."

Mencken struck the key note of the ideas behind Public Choice Theory, namely that public officials-elected,civil service or appointed- act, at least in part in their own interests. These people, members of the same species as those not in government employment, tend to be motivated by salaries and other perks,lust for power and prestige and easy of managing their bureaucracy.The ideal from our eight grade civics class of a selfless public official wisely acting for the good of society is seldom achieved.

With that in mind, the"independent Health Coverage Counsel" proposed in Max Baucus's health reform plan should scare the heck out you.See here for one critique of that plan.
The danger of placing the power to make economic decisions in the hands of a governmental or quasi-governmental organizations should be obvious to all.

In fact, it scares me so much that I awoke from my blogging hiatus.


DrRich said...

Welcome back. I am glad we have your voice of reason to rely on, once again, and I am pleased to be able to put you back on my blogroll.


Anonymous said...

Great to have you back. Now please tell us what you make of the Doig et al trial from Dec 17 JAMA on early ICU nutrition. Is this more evidence of an intervention's benefits evaporating (a la tight glucose, corticosteroids for shock) when it is tested in a large multicenter study?