Serfdom – the expanded definition…

Just came across this post by Greg Mankiw:

The Next Step on the Road to Serfdom

in which he writes that a think tank with ties to the Democratic Party (sounds ominous) proposes (from their paper below, from a “summit” sponsored by the Pete Peterson foundation, that bastion of enserfing big govt boosterism):

Thus we also include a failsafe mechanism that would ensure significant savings. Our failsafe would be triggered if, starting in 2020, total economywide health care expenditures grow at a rate faster than the economy. Should that happen, we would empower the IPAB [the panel of experts set up by President Obama’s health care law] to extend successful reforms in Medicare and other public programs to insurance plans offered in the health care exchanges and then potentially to all health care plans, such that the target is met. This will ensure that costs are constrained across the health care sector, preventing cost-shifting and maintaining access for all.*

He goes on to comment:

That is, under the likely scenario that healthcare spending keeps rising faster than GDP, the Center for American Progress would give government the power to prohibit people from buying expensive health plans with their own money. That is not my idea of progress.

First off, I can’t see anything even nearly detailed enough to make such a specific read into that fairly bland and brief text about what would happen, but let’s just take him at his word there. That DOES sound like some vague inkling of progress to me, but I guess if your idea of freedoms is entirely negative in nature, a concept that is much easier to grasp comfortably if you are in fact comfortable (say for instance, a highly educated, wealthy white male who was on President GWB’s council of economic advisors) then, yeah, anything that limits your freedoms be it a slightly more thrifty healthcare plan or having to use flourescent bulbs could be a signpost along the ever threatening Road to Serfdom. I guess that makes almost all of western Europe (with their much lower healthcare costs and uniformly better health results) serfs. Hayek himself was likely enserfed by Britain’s National Health Service for a good 46 years since he spent the second half of his life as an apparently willing British “subject” but I’m sure he hated every doctor visit.

Can’t believe I have to use this guy’s texts this fall.


About theunlikelyeconomist

theunlikelyeconomist is in the midst of the long slog to attain a PhD in economics.
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