Quick ? for Mr. Trump based on his speech

Mr. Trump rightly noted that any healthcare reform, to be effective:

it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

I like this principle.  But this leads to a natural follow-on question.  If it is good for Americans to be able to buy the health care plan they want, not what the government wants for them (and their cronies), why not allow Americans to buy whatever goods and services they want from whomever they want, not from whom the government wants to make them buy them from?  Mr. Trump laid out a powerful principle for free trade in health care, but there is no logical reason why it should stop with health care.

Will Mr. Trump allow Americans (in both their roles as consumers and producers) to be free or not?

26 thoughts on “Quick ? for Mr. Trump based on his speech”

  1. Jeff, I think you’re equating the two words forced and expedient. They obviously don’t mean the same thing. The government has never forced anyone to buy anything except insurance. Trump with all his policies and duties is not forcing you to buy anything but making it more expedient to buy certain things. Most people when they retire will choose Medicare. Not because they are forced to but because it’s expedient.

    1. Steve, are you familiar with “libertarian paternalism” (Thaler & Sunstein, Nudge, 2009)? One of the arguments in Nudge is that the government should arrange and order incentives in such a way that we will be much more likely choose what the government believes is better for us. I think there is a huge amount of government control and social engineering when we are “nudged” in a particular direction. From my perspective of the one choosing, I might believe that my choice is expedient, but I am really being steered in that direction by the government. I think you could also argue that the government really didn’t force anyone to buy insurance, they simply penalized you if you chose not to be insured. I do know people that chose the penalty rather than the more costly insurance.

  2. Jeff, if you like Trump’s hints toward a more free market in healthcare, shouldn’t human beings also be allowed freedom to live and work where they choose? No one would question whether or not I live and work in Ohio or New York or Washington State. Why would someone question whether or not a Canadian or Mexican citizen would choose to live and work in the United States?

    1. As you know, I’m generally very supportive of work-based immigration. It’s the question of citizenship where I draw a much firmer line. And yes the distinction I make which does not translate to your logic is that our government has no obligation to extend the same legal rights it gives to our citizens to non-citizens. Do you think that our government should do that?

      Nevertheless, since you asked, I’ll write a more detailed response over the break in a separate post.

      1. When you say: “government has no obligation to extend the same legal rights it gives to our citizens to non-citizens” the response seems rhetorical. No – a gov’t should not give the exact same rights to a non-citizen as citizen. However, the issue is how difficult should it be to become a citizen? Why should a gov’t create hurdles for people who want to be productive citizens?

      2. Once you agree with me that no, a government does not have the same obligation to non-citizens as to citizens, then you should see why your extension of the logic of healthcare choices for citizens, to free trade choices of citizens does not necessarily lead to free immigration decisions of non-citizens.

  3. Good question! Do you really think though that healthcare reform will get to that point?

  4. Arguably the biggest influence the government has over the economy is the tax code. I’m sure both Jeff and Bert would like to see huge revisions in the tax code. With that said, the government offers deductions for interest borrowed to purchase a home. Obviously, they believe that home ownership bolsters the economy. But what does that do to the free market place between renting property and Home Builders. To some extent Builders win and the owners of rental property lose. Or how about this example. China trains tens of thousands of farmers to be Economist and thousands of them migrate to the United States making the pool of economist double and dropping the wage of Economics teachers to less than 1/2. I have to assume you think this would be a good thing because that would lower the cost of everybody’s education. Not very realistic, but they have trained hundreds of thousands of farmers to be manufacturers and although they didn’t migrate to the United States in principle they lowered the wages of hundreds of thousands of people here to less than half. Free markets do not exist. In addition. the free market theory only works when intelligent people act intelligently and rationally which we know doesn’t always happen. And it’s true the government can’t force you to do anything. When there was a draft there was always the choice to go to jail instead.

    1. Steve
      I am opposed to any deductions. I would rather have a true flat (proportional) tax. Any exceptions simply give the moral ground for more cronyist exceptions. Yes I would eliminate the charitable deduction as well.
      As for 10000 Chinese economists, bring it on. I believe I have comparative advantage in economics over them. You might naturally say, “easy for you to say.” And I would not deny that. But I still believe it.
      In any case, the competition will bring increased social welfare. If I’m wrong, I’ll do something else. There are about a million things I’d like to do in life vocationally–I would do something different. No economist has ever argued that pre-existing trade distributions will be maintained–precisely the opposite. Economists argue instead that the trade patterns that result will be more productive than those without free trade. And even when other countries cheat, I still believe, along with Milton Friedman, that our best response would still be to practice unilateral free trade.

      You are certainly right, along with Mr. Trump, that we are much more open to others’ goods than they are to us. Which is precisely why he was wrong about TPP–we already have low trade restrictions with most of those countries relative to theirs on us–TPP would have been beneficial to us.

    2. “the free market theory only works when intelligent people act intelligently and rationally which we know doesn’t always happen. ”
      Do you care to defend this assertion? What we know is that countries that get closer to the free market ideal do better economically. Just look at the Index of Economic Freedom put out annually–the freer the country the better the economic performance (and the reverse is true) in general.

      1. The freer the country the better the economy. How do we explain then the 7 to 9% growth in China verses our struggling to get 2% growth. Does China have more freedom than we do? Or does their government manipulate things to their advantage? It’s no secret that we’ve lost many many manufacturing jobs to China and other countries. The day is coming when if you can work from home that job will be done in China or India or elsewhere. Resulting in the continual shrinkage of the middle class.

  5. Based off of what I saw from his speech, it seems like Trump is almost getting it, but he’s missing a basic concept. One of this statements was that he likes free trade, but he wants it to be fair trade. But, by necessity and by definition, free trade has to be fair trade, otherwise it wouldn’t happen. If he drops the protectionism, he’ll be substantially better off.

    1. The problem is in countries like China the government is so involved in the economy that it’s not free trade. So any time we trade with China it’s not free from their standpoint and our workers get the shaft. I happened to be painting a bedroom and have the chest pulled out from the wall. Stickers on the back, made in China. Didn’t even know it. We used to have a huge Furniture industry in the South. No more.

      1. Steve–
        1. Will you allow me to go to the store in Cedarville and freely buy goods and services there or would you use the power of the government to stop me? Both I and the merchant by definition benefit from this exchange since it was voluntary.
        2. Will you allow me to go on the internet and buy something from California or will you use the power of the government to stop me? Both I and the California merchant by definition benefit from this exchange since it was voluntary.
        3. Will you allow me to go to the internet and buy something from a manufacturer in Mexico or will you use the power of the government to stop me? Both I and the Mexican merchant by definition benefit from this exchange since it was voluntary.

        Why the difference between your responses (I expect) from 1 & 2 from #3?

  6. Interesting perspective! I’m curious to hear if you think Trump will allow more freedom for consumers and producers or do you think he will stop at healthcare?

    1. When did you first begin reading/participating on this blog? I ask because in the past Dr. Haymond and his colleagues here on this blog have been more than scathing on Obamacare and Obama’s policies. Right now Trump is President, both houses of Congress are Republican, so Trump and Trump’s policies, and the Republicans and their policies will be the topic the next few years.

      I can assure you that Haymond has asked many, many questions on ACA over the years.

    2. Harold,
      As Nathan suggested, we have blogged quite a bit and critically over the years on the ACA. Simply go to the right hand side and click on the category of “Obamacare” and you’ll find many pages of posts from most of the Bereans on that subject.

  7. Jeff, in response to your one two and three examples. First of all I never mention Mexico. I’m not sure that you can compare Mexico to China. Mexico is a great place to get things like avocados and other foods that are mot readily available in United States. And I’m not sure that they manipulate their currency and their economy the way China does. The Chinese government is using our buying power to accelerate there economy and we get 2% groth. Something is rotten in Denmark as they say.

  8. First they came for the manufacturing jobs, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a line worker.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the computer tec jobs., and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a computer tec.

    Then they came for my job—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  9. I like how he said that, “not forced on them by the government”. He isn’t trying to force anything.

  10. One could argue that the people voted government officials in, so the government is answering the people by forcing health care plans. I do think it is interesting that Trump thinks people have the right to choose their health care plan but not who to trade with. Your observation is noteworthy.
    P.S. Do you have the original source you took this quote from for context?

  11. Allowing Americans to purchase freely is an interesting concept, but I’m not sure to what extent this principle should be applied to other things. Should Americans be allowed to purchase marijuana, for example? Sure it is a drug, but it is not much more health-damaging or addictive than alcohol or tobacco products. If the government shouldn’t be allowed to force you into buying something, should it be allowed to stop you from buying something? Where does “freedom” become unreasonable?

  12. I like this article because it is short and sweet. It does raise a very good question, will Trump truly allow us to be free? The government does control a lot of what we do and if we can buy whatever health plan we want, we should be able to buy whatever else we want and from who we want.

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