A Political Romance


Here is a letter I recently sent to the Midland Daily News:

Imagine the excitement of wealthy health industry executives as they watch the progression of the healthcare bill through the political system. These executives have been paying lobbyists large sums of money in an attempt to pass healthcare reform and it’s all about to pay off. If the bill passes, it will require every single American to have health insurance resulting in a large increase in the demand for their health services.

An even larger increase in demand will result from a lack of rationing from the consumers. Under healthcare reform, consumers will have access to as many healthcare services as they can get their hands on at no additional costs to themselves. To top it off, a credible third party with deep pockets (government) will pick up the tab for all additional expenses. In short, health reform will offer guaranteed payments and increased revenues to already wealthy individuals working within the healthcare industry.

Some may read the paragraphs above and say that I have it all wrong; healthcare is a human right and the reform is all about helping those who are not fortunate enough to provide for themselves. If this is the thought passing through your mind, you are likely an extremely kind hearted individual who is unknowingly endorsing the plans of special interests. In order to understand why this is true, it is important to be able to distinguish between the actual political process and the theatrical performances that follow.

The actual political process goes something like this – Special interests have a strong desire to extract money from the public purse. Unfortunately, extracting money from the public purse is a tricky process – No one ever approaches the government and says “I need $1 million dollars because I’m a good person and I deserve it.” Besides, special interests are much too sophisticated for such a request. Instead, they pay lobbyists and politicians (through campaign contributions) to ask for the same thing in a slightly different way. As soon as the payments have been made, the theatrical performances ensue. All of a sudden, lobbyists and politicians are saying “We need to pass bill X to protect the middle class.” What remains unmentioned is the $1 million that ends up in the pockets of special interests as a result of bill X.

The benefits of bill X are then mentioned in the media which excites regular citizens, causing a few of them to become activists. These activists are generally the kind hearted individuals mentioned earlier who unknowingly become the frontmen for special interests. The activists then go out on the streets and inform other people of the bill’s merits. Once the bill passes into law, the special interests pocket a portion of the loot for themselves and distribute the remainder to the political party and politicians who helped pass the bill. When another opportunity presents itself, a portion of the loot is spent to hire more lobbyists to begin yet another cycle.

This cycle will continue until the public at large stops romanticizing over the theatrical performances of politicians and realize what actually happens within the political system. With this knowledge, the endorsement of healthcare reform by several prominent politicians will be “no more surprising than that a hog would gorge itself when presented with a trough of food and be about as appetizing to watch.”*

Kurt Bouwhuis

*Andrew P. Morriss, Letter to the Financial Times, Oct. 14, 2008.

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