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thinking man’s conservative

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Big business wants out of the business of providing health care to the American workforce. Fine. There’s an obvious answer out there – check every other developed economy – regarding who should take up this responsibility.

But the right has other ideas. Here’s David Brooks from today’s NYT:

Few have thought about these matters as long or as well as Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation. Butler grew up in Shrewsbury, England, got a doctorate in American economic history in Scotland and became a U.S. citizen in 1996. As a result, he’s acutely aware of what makes American civilization unique, and which policies fit the national character.


Butler’s specific health care plan is well-summarized at the Web site of the Hamilton Project. First, he would create tax-exempt “insurance exchanges.” These would be sponsored by trusted agents — unions, churches and other social groups. Organized like the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, they would offer menus of coverage choices and create diverse risk pools.

Second, employers who did not offer their own coverage would oversee payroll deductions and tax withholdings, but they would no longer have to sponsor programs or make choices for employees. Third, Congress would offer a health care tax credit to families making up to 200 percent of the poverty level, and would tighten benefits for the affluent. Fourth, states could come up with their own ways to regulate this system.

This isn’t the laissez-faire social contract of the 19th century. But neither is it the centralized, big bureaucracy contract of the 20th century. It’s a contract that envisions society as a dense but flexible web of social networks, the perfect vision for 21st-century America.

Hmmm… Church-based health insurance… That’s a new one… And if I were to obtain my benefits from my union, seems like a slightly different sourcing of the funds in question (me, in the former case and my employer, in the latter…) And who are the “other social groups” he’s thinking of? Can’t wait to get my Cat Fancier’s Pooled Funds Medical Card in the mail…

The title of Brooks’s article is “The New Social Contact.” The terms of said contract seem to be “figure it out for yourself, or ask your priest, but leave your government the fuck out of it, kay?”

Written by adswithoutproducts

September 7, 2007 at 9:18 pm

Posted in america

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