April 11, 2012
by Dennis T. Avery
President Obama says the Republicans want to throw everyone under the wheels of a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" machine. He says the dog-eat-dog of the free market will be bad for blacks, Latinos, women, and the handicapped.
He's got it exactly backward. Peaceful competition in free markets is the alternative to Darwinism! Darwin believed in "superior species" winning out by crushing the "weakest." But human behavior changes much faster than evolution. Free markets, especially, empower everyone to use their special talents, time, and abilities to the fullest. Then everybody prospers-not just special segments of the population.
The hunter-gatherers were the quickest, strongest humans Nature ever bred. The farmers who have followed them have been about ten percent smaller-with smaller brains. But the farmers could produce many times more food per acre, enough to feed larger populations-and thus put more spears and swords into the battle line. Today, our farmers supply ample food for the cities that produce most of our wondrous technology.
We now have rewarding, lucrative roles for NFL defensive linemen, but also important roles for good fathers who earn money for their families' food and education. We have economic roles for the women who choose to work outside the home, many doing jobs that might once have required male muscle but today utilize women's quick wits. Computer geeks like Bill Gates can become billionaires and geniuses with funny hair like Einstein gain prestige and honor at our universities.
Our biggest military problem today is the jealousy of the Moslem world, which sees the wealthy West on TV, and wants what we have. They don't understand why their religious zeal hasn't produced the wealth that Moslem invasions once won at sword's point. We see that there isn't much economic growth in countries that suppress and intimidate fifty percent of their adult population.
Closer to home, Obamacare's new command-and-control system is guaranteed to produce severe health care rationing, as it already has in Britain and Canada. The rationing will be done by 15 appointed "wise men" who'll decide who should be written off. We urgently need a different solution. Virtually all of the burgeoning federal debt is due to the open-ended health care promises-and the huge number of retiring Baby Boomers will collapse the current system if it isn't fixed. Our entitlements will go from 10 percent of the economy to 20 percent within the next 40 years!
There are far more caring alternatives to Obamacare's health care rationing. One would make Medicare more like Social Security. If the $574 billion currently paid by Medicare was divided among the enrollees it would come to $11,700 per recipient, and more if they were sick or disabled. Today, 30 percent of the money is wasted on coverage the enrollees wouldn't buy for themselves. Subsidize insurance for the poor, too, so they get physicians' care instead of ultra-expensive Emergency Rooms.
Let doctors compete in a free market, choosing their specialties, with fees set by competition. Let creative pay-as-you-go doctor-based plans flourish in shopping centers and private offices. Continue and foster the increased use of Nurse Practitioners for our minor ailments. Let the health industry creatively expand to provide medical care for the 16 million additional people to be included. Encourage research, not insurmountable barriers to finding new drugs and new treatments. It now costs nearly one billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, and that doesn't include the costs of the failed experiments.
Darwin's "survival of the fittest" can't crush the weakest when peaceful productivity and freedom of choice become the dominant forces in human society.
Dennis T. Avery is based in Churchville, VA, and is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Global Food Issues.
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