The Fundamental Problem of Economics states that people with infinite demands will attempt to meet those demands with limited resources. This predictably fails. The best we can hope for is what is called a Pareto Optimal solution where you pretty much do the best you can with what you have. Much of the debate between boosters of command economies and free market economies centers on how a society works towards getting more to dole out and a Pareto Optimal distribution of what they have.
The socialists in Venezuela solve this problem by rationing. They ration food. The socialists in America solve this problem by rationing. They ration donated organs available for transplant. This can lead to heart-breaking and intractable dilemmas in which there is no answer that maximizes everybody’s happiness. In just such a dilemma, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius learned just how hard a job it was to be queen.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rebuffed an appeal from Rep. Lou Barletta on behalf of a girl who needs a lung transplant but can’t get one because of a federal regulation that prevents her from qualifying for a transplant. “Please, suspend the rules until we look at this policy,” Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican, asked Sebelius during a House hearing Tuesday on behalf of Sarah Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl who needs a lung transplant.
We examine Kathleen Sibelius’ behavior in the context of moral agency to bring the dilemma of the statist into sharp relief. The brain and the heart go to intractable war in this decision. The girl is 10, for crying out loud! She still wants her stuffed dolls. Her Daddy gloats on her. Have you no decency, Madame!
Then we get the other side. Forty other people are on the list. These people have undoubtedly paid taxes, voted, obeyed laws, served in Iraq or Afghanistan and done a whole lot of what our society expects of decent Americans. They got on the list first, and just because they’d look ridiculous when playing with cute stuffed animals, that doesn’t mean the adorable little girl gets to jump in line. In summary, I’m fine with Sec. Sibelius’ decision. It only sounds hard-hearted because the person who lost had a tragic and endearing personal story. Leaders can’t make hard decisions based on tears instead of logic.
Once the epistemological bong smoke clears and the mourners quench their last sighs, I question the right of any Secretary of The HHS to be the moral agent making that decision. What business does Washington, DC have telling The State of Pennsylvania how to allocate its transplant organs? What business does the State of Pennsylvania have telling its hospitals the same? The organs are property. The needy patients are consumers. We have an institution that matches customers to products. It’s called a market.
To understand how blessed we are that we have nice things like markets; we should examine the situation in Venezuela where a whole lot more than just one precious life hangs in the balance. When people get desperate, they will do what they have to do to feed their families. This includes circumventing the failed managed markets of your typically dysfunctional socialist economy and going black market to get what they need. Here’s how Frater Grande responded.
The OPEC nation’s consumers have for months had to endure long lines or visit several stores to find basic products that run the gamut from toilet paper to butter, driven in part by a lack of hard currency to ensure imports. The state of Zulia in western Venezuela said it will launch a pilot program next week that uses a digital system to block shoppers from buying the same staple products at different stores on the same day. “Considering the average size of a family, one person should only buy 20 staple products during the period that we establish, which we think will be one week,” Blagdimir Labrador, an official with the Zulia state government, told the newspaper Panorama in an interview published on Tuesday.
It’s temporary, of course. It always is – just until the next emergency gets done. But the emergency never ends. Socialism doesn’t work. That’s the emergency. It consists of the fact that the self-selecting elite, controlling the supplies the people need to exist, are completely incapable of managing the complexity that comes with deciding who gets a “fair” share of anything.
Queen Kathleen just began to experience the tip of the iceberg. She’ll get the full tonnage through the hull of the USS ObamaCare when she attempts to implement the IPAB. When we literally have black marketers remarketing replacement organs to compensate for the poor management over at HHS, we will truly learn there are limits to what a government can effectively rule and manage.