Thursday, March 25, 2010

Government "Intrusion"

I was just rereading Leopold's (1949) Sand County Almanac this morning for a class and I noticed a wise remark relevant to the current strife about healthcare:
Industrial landowners and users, especially lumbermen and stockmen, are inclined to wail long and loudly about the extension of government ownership and regulation to land, but (with notable exceptions) they show little disposition to develop the only visible alternative: the voluntary practice of conservation on their own land.
It's not a conceptual truth that free-market approaches to health-insurance are doomed to fail any more than it is guaranteed that Leopold's industrial landowners should fail to keep their soil from washing away. But nor is it surprising that they do fail, given the relevant incentive structures. Champions of free-market approaches to this or that argue that long-term, enlightened self-interest leads to productive competition and thus valuable results — and they may be right. But haven't we seen in the last few years a conspicuous absence of foresight on the part of the piloting these hydrogen-fueled-dirigibles? "Oh the humanity!"