Friday, August 17, 2007

America's Dirty Little Financial Secret

Our financial situation in the United States is very tenuous. We've been hearing a lot the past few days about the housing mortgage meltdown. But our largest problem is government fiscal irresponsibility--especially in the venue of health care.


I'm currently reading The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care. The author, David Gratzer's assessment of US health care is not pretty. Health care costs eat up about 35% of many states' budgets. The federal government pays for 50 cents of every health dollar in the country, and influences most of the rest of it.

I watched a video clip from 60 Minutes last night, (hat tip to David J. Miller at Pursuit of Liberty), that's got me a bit more convinced that if America is to not fall off the precipice of solvency, we need to get government out of a lot of the business that it has insinuated itself in.

In the 60 Minutes video, Steve Kroft interviews the Comptroller General of the United States, David Walker. Here are some of my notes from his interview.

Our worst enemy is our fiscal irresponsibility--not al Qaeda. Elected officials don't seem to want to talk about it, so US Comptroller General David Walker is on the road, talking to the taxpayers. We can no longer afford massive entitlement programs, in part due to the baby boom. By 2040 at the current rate, govt would be able to pay for some entitlements and the interest on our national debt--not much else.

The largest problem is health care costs. Medicare problem 5 times greater than Social Security. Medical costs rising twice rate of inflation. The medicare program change in 2003 to include prescription drugs was "probably the most irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s." We already couldn't keep the financial promises we had previously made.

We spend 50% more for health care than any other nation. Largest uninsured population. Higher infant mortality. Higher medical error rates. Senior citizens never see the bills. The system is unsustainable.

It is a detriment to the competitiveness of American businesses.

The conservative Heritage Foundation, the liberal Brookings Institution, and the non-partisan Concord Coalition all agree with Walker's assessment.

I encourage you to watch the video. It may not have been 60 Minutes' intent, but I think when you watch it, you'll be convinced as well that we have way too much government.

3 comments:

  1. I saw that 60 Minutes story when it originally aired.

    David Walker is my hero. I think you've summed up his message well.

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  2. I watched the clip at your suggestion and I found myself nodding in agreement frequently. I wonder if it will take a total political outsider in the presidency to get our financial house in order. I think it was exactly that hope that helped Ross Perot do so well the first time he ran.

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  3. We marginalized Ross Perot--I was guilty, too--like we shouldn't have. We can't afford to do it to people like Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. It grates on me to no end when high-profile people say that so-and-so can't win, so don't vote for him. If everyone who was afraid to vote for Ron Paul because he can't win would vote for him, he would win! or at least he would come close that the establishment would be marginalized and presidential elections would never be the same again!

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