Monday, December 13, 2010

How about some healthcare with your education?

A short time ago, a Canadian cable provider Bell TV began to offer consumers the option to choose which channels they paid for. Many cable customers have long expressed displeasure with paying for 800+ channels and only actually watching twenty or less. They call this type of cable service "a la carte" Monthly rates for the Bell TV a la carte channels are 15 channels for $15, 20 channels for $19 or 30 channels for $22. Beyond that individual channels can be purchased for $2 each or another 20 popular channels can get tacked on for $5.

This got me thinking...what if the government adopted this approach to taxes? What if we had the option to decide how are tax money is spent? (representative democracy is supposed to do this for us, but I'm not convinced it's all!!) I know there would be many details to work out, but I think it's sounds like a great idea (mostly because I came up with it of course). Okay, obviously there are some things that everybody has to pay for, National defense, infrastructure costs, etc. But there are several other things that we don't all agree on. For example, I'm not interested in using my tax dollars to fund art museums (I don't dislike art, I just think they should survive on their own merit and not be propped up by taxpayers.) In fact, as a Libertarian, I'm not interested in the government funding much of anything other than what's absolutely essential. The one area where I occasionally break from that philosophy is in regards to scientific research. You may disagree with that. That would be okay, you just wouldn't check that box on your "tax menu". It is in the best interest of companies like Microsoft to have a pool of highly educated potential employees so that they can continue to grow as a company and make money. You can bet that they would be inclined to check off the "education box" on theirs. But I live right next to a couple who don't have children and don't plan on having any. Why should they pay for education? This way they wouldn't have to.

I know it sounds crazy at first. But give it some time to swirl around in your head (or the toilet, which may be where it belongs) and see if it starts to make some sense. Maybe not exactly as I've described it, but something like it where people have a choice. I trust the judgement of individuals much more than I do the judgement of the two-faced, special-interest serving goons in Washington. Shouldn't WE be their special-interest? And by the way, the "a la carte" Cable thing sounds pretty good to, eh? Way to go Canada!!!


  1. I can see where your train of thought went with this, although I have to disagree.

    Ultimately government is supposed to look after the interests of us all, whether we're the minority or majority. You personally may not benefit directly from something that you're paying for, but someone is and, chances are, you may be benefitting from it indirectly. The childless couple next door may not feel they should pay for educating other people's children, but when those children become the doctors who care for them when they're older the reasoning behind it becomes obvious. We ALL gain from education, whether its us, our children, or someone else or their children ...

    Every time the debate over tuition fees for university education comes up here in the UK (and whether we should abolish fees and go back to having the state pay for people go to college), some right-wing bell-end always asks, "Why should the dustman [garbage man] subsidise the doctor?" Well, because, one day, that dustman is going to need that doctor.

    It's the same as the healthcare issue ... people (generally those with money) always complaining that they shouldn't have to pay for other people's healthcare and that we should all pay for our own. Yeah, well, that's how it should be. We all pay in to the system, and we all take from it - it's just that we take from different parts of it more than others - I don't drive, but I'm still paying for roads to be built and maintained. In the end, it all balances out ...

    Liking the blog so far, good stuff!

  2. Thanks. Yea I disagree that government is supposed to look after all of us. I think government is nothing more than a referee...and of course it does need to provide defense. I think it's fine if pockets of people want to provide healthcare for everyone in their community by requiring everyone to chip in. And then people could decide if they wanted to live there or not. I imagine that many people would and many such pockets would spring up.

    I however would not. Most of my arguments come back to personal freedom. Once anyone (government included) gives me something (food stamps, health care, education...etc.) they then have the power to control some of my decisions. You when I lived at home with parents and they would say, "as long as you're living under our roof you are going to live by our rules". Once everyone has government health care...what's to stop the government from deciding that, I don't know, sugary sodas should be banned because of the high costs they place on health care. Sure, sugary sodas are bad. But maybe people want them. I don't like the government having power over our personal choices that don't harm anyone else. I don't think it's much of a stretch to believe that Big Macs and Coke (while definitely not healthy) could be outlawed by politicians...many of whom hold a cynical view of the public and don't believe that they can make decisions for themselves.

    Of course, I could be wrong on this. I am on many things.

  3. I can see your point, but you kind of already have the power to decide taken away from you by health insurance companies. You could have all the personal freedom in the world, but if they decide you aren't getting your treatment because of some pre-existing condition, or because they're just being jerks about it, your freedom to choose won't count for much.

    I probably should have said governments job is to look after our interests, rather than specifically "us"; we pay them to organise the stuff we're unable or unwilling to do. Build us a road, run our schools, police our streets etc. Yes, they will try and exert some influence or apply conditions, that's to be expected, but public pressure can prevent abuses. They've tried a number of times over here to introduce changes to the NHS whereby smokers, drinkers and the obese would be denied certain treatments, and every time the NHS has stood its ground and said no - people should be treated without prejudice or judgement.

    My partner has Gender Dysphoria (he's transgender, FTM) and Aspergers - the chances of him working any time in the near future (at least without a good amount of counselling) are virtually zero. But that doesn't matter because he gets his counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy on the NHS - free. He gets his medication free. He gets his surgery free. He gets his clinic appointments free. For his first round of surgery, he got to choose the hospital he wanted, the surgeon, and the procedure. He has that level of choice in a state-run, socialised healthcare system.

    I'm not saying it's perfect ... there will be waiting involved for things like that because it's not life-threatening, and the efficiency of various departments and facets of the NHS leave a lot to be desired. But at least he gets it, and he won't spend his life paying for it. The choices are still his and, if he doesn't like it, he has the choice to get stuff done privately. We're so lucky that the NHS is full of people who strongly resist government interference ...

    Obviously I can only speak from my own experiences and, I've just noticed I'm rambling on again ... you really should stop me :)