Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ignatieff's Open Letter: Health-Care is Important, Socialism Fails. Let's Combine the Two!

My fellow Canadians,

I am writing to you about a matter of serious importance to your family: the future of health care in our country.

Dear Michael Ignatieff,

I am critiquing your letter. The future of health care in this country is a serious matter that affects everyone. Can you explain to me why exactly we are applying a failed economic system to human health? Or better yet, can you defend this position using reason rather than sprouting some stereotypical sound-bites for the election campaign?

The Liberal Party’s passionate belief in universal, free, quality, timely public health care remains unshakable. We are the party that made universal, Canadian Medicare and the Canada Health Act a reality.

All right, first a little history lesson – The “free” health care you write of was in the Liberal platform for ages until the NDP pushed you guys to enforce it during some minority government. But I digress,

Let's define universal. There's nothing free about it, it's not up to quality, it's certainly not timely and it will never be “unshakable.” As Mises predicted, as the Soviet Union proved, and as Canada is experiencing: socialism always fails.

Let's start living in reality, shall we Iggy?

We all know there are challenges in health care – and we believe there are two challenges above all:

Gaps and wide variations in quality and availability of care, depending on where you live, putting more and more pressure on Canadian families; and

Provinces are struggling to contain rising expenditures, a struggle that will become even more difficult as our population ages.

This is the most important part of the letter. Any solution the Liberal Party is proposing must address these two challenges in a logical way.

First challenge: the discrepancies in quality and availability isn't so much about where one lives than it is about the inherent failures of socialism. Without a rational price structure in a free market, health-care related resources are allocated not by profit (and therefore by consumer preference) but by arbitrary rules and regulations directed from above by various health bureaucracies. Hence some treatment is unavailable or simply rationed. A waiting-list is a purely socialist trait.

Second challenge: Another inherent failure of socialism. In the private sector, successful entrepreneurs improve services and cut costs. The unsuccessful go out of business, so the incentives are rational and consumer based. In the "public sector" if a manager goes over budget, the government is likely to increase their budget. If you're efficient and your bureaucracy comes in under budget, the government is likely to decrease next year's budget. The incentives under socialism is to be inefficient and to continuously make mistakes.

So the only way to cope with these rising health-care expenditures is to cut spending. As raising taxes and inflation will likely just fuel further spending, the best option here is the legalization of private sector health-care to offset the austerity in the public sector.

Given these challenges, after five years of neglect under Mr. Harper, the next federal government must get serious and get back to the table for health care.

Politics has become such a clown show that my only hope is that Mr. Harper gets his majority so he can gut the health-care system without worrying about elections or coalition governments. There are a lot of negative aspects to a Harper majority, but considering that this country is heading towards a 100% planned economy anyway, perhaps a Harper majority can slow this process down for a bit.

I wouldn't hold my breath, though.


We’re going to start by providing direct support to Canadian families facing health challenges:

Family Care Plan: A $1,350 Family Care Tax Benefit to help low- and middle-income families with the cost of caregiving, and the Family Care EI benefit to let you take time off work to care for a loved one at home.

This plan does not solve challenge 1 or 2 in any credible way. I guess in some warped economic illiterate sense, it does address challenge 1, but in no way does spending more money solve challenge 2.

Canadian Brain Health Strategy: To help families cope with the crushing pressures of dementia, a Liberal government will commit $100 million over its first two years for research into treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, including funding for awareness, prevention, and income security issues.

See above. The problem is availability and cost. Having the government spend x amount on different fields of research is not a rational solution to challenge 1. In addition, nothing so far addresses the cost aspect. $100 million there, $1,350 per family there, and this is all supposed to be paid for by not lowering corporate tax cuts. There are problems with this.

Health promotion and Canada’s first National Food Policy: To show federal leadership in improving the health of Canadian families, Liberals will focus on promoting exercise, healthy eating, nutrition, better food labeling, regulating salt and transfats, local farmers’ markets, Canadian food on Canadian plates, and improving the food inspection system.

Eventually this capitalist*/socialist “middle of the road” policy will lead to complete collectivization. I've written in length about the absurdity of this national food policy. This may be one of the most dangerous policy ideas to come out of Canada since the nationalization of health-care.

*I hate to use the phrase 'capitalist' because there's nothing remotely resembling a free market in Canada's agriculture sector. Plus, some free-marketers cringe at the phrase 'capitalism,' a term popularized by Karl Marx.

Improved rural health services: While some 20% of Canadians live in rural areas, only 10% of doctors practice there. A Liberal government will invest an additional $40 million over two years to improve rural health services in cooperation with provinces, territories, municipalities and medical professionals.

An attempt to address challenge 1, the availability of health-care. Again, using market prices to indicate how best to allocate scarce resources is the best method here. This top-down central planning idea never works properly. And then there's the blatant refusal to address challenge 2: the costs. Why even bring it up if you're just going to ignore it?


All provinces are struggling with the challenges of containing costs while delivering quality, accessible, free Medicare. They will have a strong partner in a Liberal government. It’s in the best interests of Canadians that their governments work together effectively.

That partnership starts with a commitment to quality, innovation and best practices. We need to do a much better job learning across jurisdictions, based on evidence, and what works.

All right, where to begin? It's nitpicking, but the Grits need to remember the Tanstaafl Principle. Whatever we don't pay for now is only going to cost twice as much down the road. There ain't no such thing as quality accessible free Medicare (TANSTAQAFM).

The Girts want to do a much better job based on “evidence, and what works.” All evidence points to the failures of socialism and the superiority of the free market. Bottom-up individualism works better, more effectively and efficiently than top-down collectivism.

Central planning never works.

Experts tell us that sharing and implementing best practices can improve quality and save money.... A key example: the Canadian Medical Association is leading a charge to put the “patient first” in health care management. It’s about giving the system back to the patient.

I would love to know more about this initiative. Does putting the “patient first” and giving “the system back to the patient” involve privatization? The legalization of voluntary exchange in a free and peaceful market?


The 2004 Health Accord expires in 2014 and its replacement will have to be an immediate priority for Canada’s next government. … As we outline in our platform, a Liberal government will have two priorities for health care reform:

Home care services: Home care is an increasingly important part of health care. We must ensure high-quality care in the home, including for priority areas like mental health and palliative care, everywhere in Canada.

The Canadian government has trouble providing basic health-care, yet the Grits want to enact home care services? In some twisted way this addresses challenge 1, but completely ignores challenge 2.

Drug coverage: We will work with provinces and territories to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for the health care system and ensure that every Canadian – coast to coast to coast – has adequate drug coverage.

Unless it's the elimination of all subsidies and restrictions on the production and sale of pharmaceutical products and medical devices – then whatever the Grits do won't mean squat.

The provinces are coping with budgetary deficits and spiraling health care costs. It is critical that a new federal government commits to investing in health care beyond 2014, so that provinces can get on with the job of reforming our health care system. We must ensure it will be there when every Canadian family needs it. For these reasons, a Liberal government will maintain the current 6% health care funding escalator beyond 2014.

In absolutely no way does throwing money at the problem solve the rising costs of health-care. There ain't no such thing as government investment (TANSTAGI) since there is no non-arbitrary way to determine if government policy is running a profit or loss. All government “investment” must rely on three destructive interventions in the economy: taxation, inflation and borrowing. All government spending must come from one of these three sources, and none of them can solve challenge #2. Despite any value found in government, taxation remains an act of wealth destruction just as it would if the private sector practiced taxation. Of course the idea of “private taxation” is ludicrous as most of us would recognize it for what it really is: theft. Inflation devalues the money and distorts the price structure as well as many other things and borrowing by governments means competition with the private sector. The government's unique position in the market as the only entity with the power to tax puts it at an unfair advantage over those who must use voluntary means.

Furthermore, “investment” usually comes after a period of lowered consumption and increased savings. Government has done neither of these things. As Murray Rothbard noted:

“Investment in capital goods means nothing except as a necessary way station to increased consumption. When capital investment takes place in the free market, it deprives no one of consump­tion goods; for those save who voluntarily choose investment over some present consumption. No one is required to sacrifice pres­ent consumption who does not wish to do so. As a result, the standard of living of everyone rises continually and smoothly as investment increases. But a Soviet or other system of compulsory investment lowers the standard of living of almost everyone, cer­tainly in the near future. And there is every indication that the “pie-in-the-sky” day when living standards finally rise almost never arrives. In short, government “investment,” as we have noted above, turns out to be a peculiar form of wasteful “consumption” by government officials.”

We can build on the fiscal legacy left behind by Jean Chr├ętien and Paul Martin’s leadership

So under Michael Ignatieff, Canada will be a mere puppet nation-state run by international organizations such as the IMF, OECD and the United Nations?


When he [Stephen Harper] worked for the National Citizens’ Coalition, he said, “It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.”

I don't know about you Iggy, but I'm finding the old Libertarian style NCC Harper a lot different from the current Keynesian Blue Socialist Prime Minister Harper... I'm very disappointed.

These views would mean the Government of Canada washes its hands of the Canada Health Act, and walks away from the fundamental idea that all Canadians deserve a similar level of health care service no matter where they live in this country.

I'm not a particularly big Churchill fan, but I do like this quote:

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

This “fundamental idea” that all Canadians deserve the same level of health-care across the country just establishes the fact that all Canadians get to share in the misery of socialism. It's time to get serious about fixing our health-care system.

Stop ignoring the laws of economics, Iggy.

This is one of the most important issues affecting your family. Before you vote, you deserve answers from Stephen Harper. Then, you can decide for yourself – who will you trust with the future of our health care? The Liberal Party has made its commitments clear.

Michael Ignatieff
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

I don't trust either of you fucks. Stop campaigning and offer some real policy solutions.


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