Posted tagged ‘Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)’

Economic Ignorance Has Caused Our Political Chaos.

March 8, 2017

Microeconomics or Micro Economics as a Concept

What do Jeffery Sachs (economics professor at Columbia), Bill Gates, the Pope, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have in common?….. Economic ignorance!

Why are  pronouncements by people with authority rarely challenged?….. Economic ignorance!

I found some recent articles on economicpolicyjournl.com which have a similar theme: People with authority demonstrating their ignorance about basic economic principles.

Here are the articles.

Harvard Educated Economist Clueless About The Fundamentals Of Economics.

I Never Realized The Economic Ignoramus Bill Gates Is….Until Now.

The Pope’s Problem With Basic Economics.

Trump In Melbourne Spilling His Economic Plans And How Non-Free Market Are They.

House Republican Border Adjustment Tax Plan Gains Support In White House: Prepare For Higher Prices And Less Product.

Jeffery Sachs, Bill Gates and the Pope don’t have the power of Government behind anything they say. Their authority exists in the minds of the people who believe they have authority. They can’t force their economic ignorance on us

The President and Congress have the power of Government behind their policies. Politicians and bureaucrats can force their economic ignorance on us.

OUR ECONOMIC IGNORANCE

The increasing political chaos existing in the U.S is rooted in the economic ignorance of a vast majority of people. Both the masses, and people with “authority”, bear responsibility for our present political and economic situation.

People with “authority” being economically ignorant creates a problem because we the masses accept what they say as truth. This leads to the passage of Governmental policies which can’t produce the outcomes predicted by the people with authority.

We have the power to be a check on these people with authority. But we reinforce their authority on the one hand, and increase the economic ignorance of the masses on the other, when we don’t challenge the economic validity of what they say.

People with authority always want more power. Their power can’t be increased unless we allow it. Authority not backed by the force of Government isn’t real authority. We voluntarily give people their position of authority.

With politicians and bureaucrats it’s different. Their authority is backed by the force of Government. Our first non-violent voluntary recourse to their power is to vote the economically ignorant out of office, or not to vote them into office in the first place. Our second is putting political pressure on politicians. But this only works if a overwhelming majority of people put political pressure on them.

The ability of politicians and bureaucrats to grow their power, rests on the economic ignorance of the electorate. If the economic consequences of the policies passed by these politicians were known by the voters, they wouldn’t have been passed. Understanding basic economic principles allows us to look over the horizon and see the consequences of these policies.

EXAMPLES OF FAILED POLICIES

The Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare sounds great. But the laws of economics will not allow the ACA to lower the cost of healthcare. The costs can be shifted, but not lowered by government decree. The result of passing the ACA is chaos in the healthcare market, or what is left of a healthcare market.

Increasing the minimum wage for low skilled workers sounds great. But the laws of economics won’t allow increasing the minimum wage, above what that labor produces. The result of passing this law is fewer low skilled workers will be employed.

FORSEEABLE CONSEQUENCES

If, we the people, understood some basic principles of economics we wouldn’t allow these interventionist ideas to be planted, let alone take root.

Some of these basic principles are: 1) Scarcity, 2) Subjective Value, 3) Supply and Demand 4) Production Precedes Consumption.

Lets look at the Affordable Care Act and mandated minimum wage increases through the binoculars of scarcity, and supply and demand.

Scarcity is the first rule of economics. Scarcity simply means, “what everybody wants adds up to more than there is”. Put differently. Their are limited means available to satisfy the unlimited ends we seek. These limited means have to be allocated toward producing the ends we seek. There are two ways to allocate these means. One way is voluntary cooperation, through prices in a free market. The other way is force, through the edicts of politicians and bureaucrats using government power.

Supply and Demand is easy to understand. Put simply; More is demanded and less is supplied at a low price, and more is supplied and less is demanded at a high price. Prices reflect and drive supply and demand. If their is a sudden drop in the supply of a product, the price rises. This increase in price rations the existing supply, and sends a signal that more needs to be produced. On the flip side of the coin, if their is a sudden increase in the supply of a product, the price will go down. This decrease in price sells off the existing glut, and sends a signal less needs to be produced.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND MINIMUM WAGE LAWS

The Affordable Care Act forced “30 million” uninsured people to enter the healthcare market. This meant the demand for healthcare was going to increased. Even though the supply of healthcare couldn’t be increased as quickly. (Example) It takes years for people to become doctors and nurses. Increasing the supply takes more time than the almost instant increase in demand brought about by the stroke of pen. If we apply the economic principles of scarcity, and supply and demand to the Affordable Care Act, what was going to happen to the price of healthcare? And this is not even calculating the cost of the regulations and new bureaucracy created by the 2500 page bill.

Raising the minimum wage increases the price of labor. According to the law of supply and demand, less is demanded at the high price. Voting for laws which increase the wages of people who we think are not being paid enough doesn’t help these people. Fewer people will be employed at the higher price. Many times these low skilled workers jobs will disappear all together because they can be replaced by automation. The price of labor was artificially increased to the point where it was economical to automate (read here). If we apply the law of supply and demand to the rhetoric of increasing the minimum wage, people wouldn’t have been fooled into thinking they were helping the people the law was actually hurting..

OUR CHOICES

Economic principles are always in play. Government edicts can’t negate economic reality. The political chaos we have today is the result of ignoring the reality of basic economics. We can’t wish these realities away because we don’t like the fact they limit what we demand.

I’m going to quote a person with authority at this point. So don’t take this quote as authoritative. Figure it out yourself.

F. A. Hayek a Nobel Prize winning economist, (how is that for status), said: “Planning, or central direction of economic activity, presupposes the existence of common ideals and common values; and the degree to which planning can be carried is limited to the extent to which agreement on such a common scale of values can be obtained or enforced.

Let’s get educated in basic economics. Life is easier to understand when you understand how the world works. Here is another quote.

F. A. Hayek: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little the really know, about what he imagines he can design.”

We have two choices. Scarce resources can be rationed through prices voluntarily in the free market. Or Scarce resources can be rationed forcibly by politicians and bureaucrats through the power of Government. Which direction are we moving?

CONCLUSION

Political insiders of both parties have shaped the battle field into a choice between the R’s and the D’s. In reality the real battle is between the insiders in both parties who want to grow the power of Government, and people who stand for free markets and want to cut the power of government. Neither group is a majority. The majority of people are the economically ignorant. These people have been fooled into fighting the battle through the R and D paradigm.

Our job is to educate the economically ignorant. When this majority understands basic economic principles, they will they stop fighting on the fake R and D battlefield and start fighting on the real battlefield: central planning vs. voluntary cooperation.

 

Related ArticleMinimum Wage Laws Create Unemployment, at austrianaddict.com

Related ArticleIncome Inequality Part II: Increase The Minimum Wage, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleThe Reality Of Obamacare, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleThe Economics of Healthcare vs. The Right To Healthcare, at austrianaddict.com.

 

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Reaction To EpiPens Increased Price, Reveals Our Economic Ignorance.

September 1, 2016

SAINT LOUIS, UNITED STATES - AUGUST 25, 2016: Two EpiPen auto-injectors used for treatment of allergic reactions.

The angst over the recent price increase of the product EpiPen, reveals our economic ignorance. This economic ignorance in and of itself wouldn’t be a problem in a free market capitalist system. Unfortunately we live in a crony capitalist economic system, where more and more economic decisions are being made through the political process. Businesses are being forced to obey interventionist laws passed by Congress, on the one hand, and cave in to political shaming by ignorant consumers and politicians on the other.

When this point is reached, companies are incentivized to put their resources toward lobbying Congress to pass laws that favor these incumbent businesses. They also donate money to politicians and political parties which is like paying protection money to the mob.

All of these resources could have been used to satisfy consumer demand. But these companies have decided that these resources can best serve their interest if they are invested in lobbying government. This is not how free market capitalism works. This is how crony capitalism works.

The EpiPen kerfuffle is an example of how our economic ignorance has allowed politicians to place the blame for the price increase on Mylan, the producer of EpiPen. The blame should be placed on the very politicians who are doing the finger-pointing. Government intervention into the healthcare market over the last 75 years, culminating in The Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare), is what has caused prices to skyrocket. Let’s take a look.

ECONOMICS 101

EpiPen is a product that delivers a life saving dose of epinephrine to individuals who have severe allergic reactions to food, insect stings, and medicines. Lets look at the economic reality of how EpiPen magically appears to perform its life saving task.

As much as people want to think that healthcare is a right, they are literally dead wrong. Healthcare in general and EpiPen in particular, is an economic good. This means it is subject to the first rule of economics which is scarcity.  EpiPen just doesn’t appear out of thin air as if we lived in the Garden of Eden. In the real world, someone has to produce this product, and you don’t have a right to take what a person produces.

The people who produce this product have to be compensated for the cost of production plus a profit. If they can’t make a profit, they would cut their losses and stop producing the product. This is why prices are so important in a free market economy. Prices send information through the production process. Government intervention increases the cost of production, which in turn sends false information through the pricing system.

CENTRALLY PLANNED HEALTHCARE

The Healthcare system was one of the most regulated industries before the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed six years ago. There is no true price discovery in our current healthcare system. This means information about which healthcare goods and services should be produced and in what quantity they should be produced doesn’t exist.

When third-party pays, whether it’s an insurance company or Government, prices are distorted. If you add the fact that insurance companies have to abide by the rules set by Government it is worse. Take a quick glance at this article, EpiPen Price: What To Know, at webmd.com, to see how much Government intervention there is in the healthcare system. Government intervention is essentially an attempt at price-fixing. Price fixing distorts the information sent through the market.

Government has created the monopoly position that Mylan holds with EpiPen. Government regulations have made it more difficult for competitors to enter the market and produce an EpiPen like product. Scan this short article, Why The EpiPen Has A Monopoly (Hint It Is Not Runaway Capitalism), at thelibertarianrepublic.com, to see how Government planners created the monopoly position for Mylan that allows the price to soar.

Supply and demand chart drawn on a blackboard.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND RULE THE DAY. EVEN IN A HAMPERED MARKET.

At a lower price more is demanded and less is produced. At a higher price more is produced and less is demanded. This is the law of supply and demand.

Government had artificially lowered the price, that people were paying for EpiPen, through Insurance mandates and Government subsidies. Because of the artificially low price, demand increased. When Auvi-Q, one of the other two producers of automatic injection devices for epinephrine, was taken off the market by regulators in October of 2015, overall supply was reduced. What happens when demand is increasing and supply is decreasing? The price has to go up to ration the scarce resource. Is this a good thing? It is neither good nor bad. It is just the reality of prices. Prices discovered through free markets not only coordinate supply and demand. Free market prices also reveal the scarcity that exists. But free market prices don’t create the scarcity.

Let’s look at the price of oil to understand what would happen if there were free markets in the healthcare system. When the price of oil was around $120 dollars a barrel, there was talk of oil going to $200 a barrel. But what happened. People started using less, demand started to decrease. At these higher prices fracking became economically viable. The supply of oil started to increase. Frackers started to find more productive methods of extracting oil from the ground. As supply increased and demand decreased the price of oil started to decrease. Because of these more productive methods, fracking wells could keep supplying oil at lower and lower prices. Because supply remains high and demand has just marginally increased, the price has remained low.

Even though Obama’s EPA took government land off-line for fracking, that didn’t keep fracking from happening on privately owned land. The free market pricing system worked to supply more oil to the market at a lower price. Bureaucrats in Government didn’t do this, free markets did. What does this have to do with the price of EpiPen?

In a free market the rise in the price of EpiPen would do two things. People would start using less. And companies would start supplying more. The price would eventually go down.

Because of Government intervention their won’t be new suppliers even at the higher price. They are being restricted from entry into the market by Government rules. Supply won’t increase like supply increased in the oil sector.

If Government and insurance companies subsidize the purchase of EpiPen, and Mylan gets bullied into lowering prices, their will be no true price discovery. False information about production and consumption will be sent through the hampered market. Their will be over consumption and under production of EpiPen. The more the planners plan the more their plans will not work.

CONCLUSION

Central planners, and people who vote for central planning, think that whatever is decreed, will happen. Unfortunately for them economic laws are more powerful than central planners mandates. Unless more companies are allowed to supply EpiPens, the artificially created shortage will continue. If the price is artificially kept below what it would be in a free market, demand will remain high. High demand and short supply means EpiPen will have to be rationed by bureaucrats in Government instead of by prices in a free market. Look at the waiting lines in Venezuela if you want to see what rationing by Government looks like.

The answer? Get rid of Government regulations and let free market prices work. Until people gain understanding about free markets, they will continue to get fooled by slick politicians, and we will remain in this political quagmire.

 

Related ArticleThe Economics of Healthcare vs. The Right to Healthcare, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleLets Look At Government Run Healthcare, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleThe Reality Of Obamacare, at austrianaddict.com.

Related ArticleGruber Tells The Truth About Obamacare, at austrianaddict.com.