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I Must Have Slept Through the Just-Concluded Era of Laissez Faire

Here’s a letter that I sent yesterday to the Florida Times-Union / Jacksonville.com:

The only thing worse than the satire in Joseph Steinman’s criticism of capitalism is Mr. Steinman’s command of the facts (“Private enterprise: Far from a perfect system,” Nov. 16).

For example, it’s untrue that health-care in the U.S. is supplied by “a mostly unencumbered private sector.”  Medicare, now with an annual budget of $523.6 billion, accounts for nearly one in every four dollars spent on health-care in America.  Other interventions include regulations that restrict consumers’ ability to shop for health-care insurance across state lines; legislatively imposed requirements specifying which conditions insurers must cover; licensing requirements for physicians, dentists, and nurses – requirements that artificially reduce the supply of these health-care providers; and the necessity of securing F.D.A. approval for all new drugs and medical devices.

Whether or not one approves of these interventions, it’s impossible to legitimately deny that they exist, that they significantly affect Americans’ access to health-care, and that they render America’s health-care market far from “unencumbered.”

Donald J. Boudreaux


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