In the Arena

This Isn’t True, Either

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Dick Armey responds to me below, but does he really believe this?

On health care, Americans can go the route of markets, innovation, flexibility and efficiency, or we can turn to government agencies, one-size fits all programs, rigid payment schedules, formularies and wasteful rent-seeking.

Actually, no–that’s a false choice…and if you don’t believe me, go ask Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation, one of the fathers of the sort of individual mandate plan that I support. (Not going to link to Ron Wyden’s plan yet again, but it does one thing Armey wants–it removes the deductability of employer-based health insurance.)

In this country we have neither perfect freedom–what a mess that would be–or socialism (a failed utopian fantasy that ignores human nature). We have regulated markets. We regulate against monopolies. We make sure, unlike the Chinese, that our food and drugs and workplaces are safe (at least, we used to, pre-Bush). We regulate against insider trading and other freedoms that are a little too free. I think we’ve done pretty damn well at it, finding a nice balance between freedom and regulation…although we could do better at deregulating some state monopolies like public education.

And freedom comes with responsibilities. You have to pay taxes. You have to buy auto insurance etc etc. I would add one other: You have to buy health insurance (and if you can’t afford it, we’ll help you out). I know, Dick, you’re going to lean more to the side of rights than responsibilities, and I’m going to lean the other way. But we’re playing between the 40-yard-lines here, aren’t we?