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Of Nick Saban, John Lennon, and Health Care

The Republican Party's Fantastic Opportunity

While watching the LSU/Alabama football game last Saturday, I marveled at Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s genius. It’s nothing flashy. In fact, its simplicity seems to confound other coaches. Saban gets the best players and drills technical perfection into them. Then he abides the simple strategy of overpowering opponents on the field, sparsely sprinkled with the occasional, game-changing sleight of hand: the forced goal-line fumble against LSU, or the “flea-flicker” against Texas A&M. Opposing coaches cannot “outsmart” Saban; their players have to outplay his. But Saban’s players haven’t met their match yet and, after watching the Crimson Tide literally and figuratively push the LSU Tigers—a talented, well-coached team—out of last Saturday’s game, I think the ‘Tide will win the title again.

Saban’s not a trickster. He’s not lying or cheating. He simply sees the truth: a team of spectacular athletes coached to technical perfection playing the game—as it was meant to be played—better than any other team will win just about every game it plays.

In other words: for Saban, winning is not a problem. Winning is a solution. He knows the game. He knows how to win. He wins.

Maybe Saban likes that song, “Watching the Wheels,” by John Lennon. (I’m sorry, coach: just making a point.) “Well, I tell them there’s no problem,” Lennon lilted, “only solutions.” Every other coach’s problem is Saban’s solution.

Now, hold those thoughts for just a few minutes.

(By the way, crucial information for this post came from two sources: Steven Brill’s 2/20/13 Time Magazine article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us,” and Allison Bell’s 6/12/12 LifeHealthPro article, “PPACA: A History.”)

I read John Hayward’s 11/14 RedState diary,  “Capitalism Can Succeed where Obamacare has Failed”; and I must first assure RedState readers that I respect Hayward as a columnist and rhetorician. The man is awesome: a Titan among conservative writers and thinkers, indefatigably cranking out one brilliantly written column after another. As a writer, I’m humbled by his abilities.

For all of that, Hayward’s premise is sound: “Capitalism can succeed where Obamacare has failed.” This post is my reaction to Hayward’s premise: an examination of it.

I didn’t listen to or even know about Obama’s 11/14 speech, about which Mr. Hayward wrote. (Obama’s overriding insincerity—the way he fundamentally and deliberately pooh-poohs substance and showcases imagery—comes through so clearly every time he speaks that I can’t stand listening to him.)

Nonetheless, Hayward’s final statement in his diary post—”Charity for the truly needy . . . capitalism for the rest of us.”— requires some examination when applied to health care because the truth is that, at one time or another, everybody truly needs health care, but health care costs too much.

As well, I think we as a culture have forgotten that, fundamentally, ”capitalism” means “private ownership.” I’ve researched the term: read its definition in several different sources and studied its origins. “Capitalism’s” definitions, and its history as an economic system, do not in any way mandate or even suggest the out-of-control greed that predominantly characterizes the health-care industry today.

In fact, and from a historical perspective, the runaway greed that defines America’s health-care industry today is more characteristic of corrupt totalitarian and authoritarian regimes that—as we all can see—bleed a nation dry.

Furthermore, for the most part the health-care industry does not—and for a long while (says Bell), has not—functioned in a free market. For one thing, as I’ve said, health care is primarily a need, not a choice. For another thing (says Brill), since 1998 the health-care industry as a whole has outspent the military arms and oil industries combined on political lobbying, donations and contributions, and it’s predictably heavily protected by legislation.

It seems to me that those who’d exploit the need for health care by charging insanely high prices for it are anti-capitalists: people who abuse a capitalist, free-market system. The health-care industry has drawn such people like dog poop draws flies: medical schools, medical schoolbook publishers, doctors, hospitals, medical-device manufacturers, testing laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, ambulance companies, malpractice lawyers, and *sigh* the politicians–from both sides of the aisle—who’ve predictably both protected and refused to address the health-care industry’s aggressive, distinctly unhealthy and, on its face, decidedly insane exploitation of people’s health needs.

These exploitative “anti-capitalists” are the problem. To the point, they’ve made health care—a common need—unaffordable. More broadly, they exploit our free-market system and give capitalism a bad name. Worse, they are collectively injuring our nation’s economy. Worst of all, they make it possible for opportunistic career politicians like Obama, Pelosi and Reid to win elections via obfuscating promises: “free health care,” and “health-care reform” . . . which, ridiculously enough, don’t address the problem—health care costs too much—but rather promise to punish a contrived “enemy” by saddling it with the health care burden.

Enter Saban and Lennon. This isn’t a problem. This is the Republican Party’s solution. It’s how we win.

I’ll venture this: if the Republican Party wants to come out on top of this issue, it will first loudly and clearly identify the problem with health care: it costs too much; its profit margins are insanely destructive. That is the health-care issue. People will hear that; they will be glad to hear that because that message has so far been all but absent from the “health-care reform” debate.

Second, the Republican Party will show that the PPACA does not address the problem of health care’s overly burdensome cost; instead, the law creates a legislatively mandated revenue source—the taxpayers—that will serve only to drive health-care costs higher; and the Republican Party will put responsibility for the PPACA squarely where it belongs: on the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party (pandering to the wealthy, as democrats are wont to do).

Third, the Republican Party will reveal, in detail, the health-care industry’s profiteering, show how it’s bleeding the country dry, and repeatedly and clearly admonish the health care industry to change its identity from a haven for profit whores to an industry comprising citizens who genuinely “care” and want to fulfill a common need among fellow citizens.

It’s important to avoid arguing for legislative price controls. More legislation is not the answer. Genuine leadership’s imperative moral and ethical components are the answer. The desire to charge responsible prices for health care cannot come via more laws. It must come from those in the health-care industry themselves, and it’s up to our political leadership to instill this desire among health-care industry professionals. It’s up to our political leaders to explain: this is how a free-market, capitalist system works successfully, and the health-care industry’s failure to work this way is the prime mover that has opened the door for phony “reform” legislation that’s as corrupt as the industry itself.

Fourth, the Republican Party will show the need for tort reform, specifically targeting medical-malpractice law, because medical-malpractice law not only adds to health-care costs; it’s also (says Brill) an excuse for the health-care industry to jack its profit margins even higher.

In short—and with a nod to Saban’s coaching and Lennon’s lilting—this health-care issue isn’t a problem, but a solution; it presents a fantastic political opportunity for the Republican Party. By first decrying the health-care industry’s burdensome costs, the Republican Party can both say what everybody wants to hear and shoot holes in its reputation, widely touted among democrats, as a party of “rich buddies.” (How many times have we all read those two words in democrats’ blog posts?) Second, by showing that the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have, with the PPACA, not merely protected but decidedly enhanced the health-care industry’s unhealthy and destructive profiteering, the Republican Party can also shoot holes in the Democratic Party’s self-acclaimed role as “protectors of the poor,” which is the democrats’ primary political marketing tool. Third, by actively addressing the problem—health care costs too much—the Republican Party can bring about healthy economic and social reforms, and desperately needed moral reforms, that will benefit everybody: win, win, win.

With the PPACA, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party have “depantsed” themselves. They’ve openly ”come out” on the side of their own army of “rich buddies” and profiteering. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Republican Party to cripple the Democratic Party with its own weapons, assume a moral leadership role, and bring about genuine reforms.

Who’d have thought that a college football coach and a leftist demi-god would provide the model for the Republican Party’s—and all of America’s—victory?

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