Guess What Greece Has To Jettison?
Policy Failure: Greece was told that if it wanted a bailout, it needed to consider privatizing its government health care system. So tell us again why the U.S. is following Europe's welfare state model.
The requirement, part of a deal arranged by the IMF, the European Union and the European Central bank, is a tacit admission that national health care programs are unsustainable. Along with transportation and energy, the bailout group, according to the New York Times, wants the Greek government to remove "the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors."
This is not some cranky or politically motivated demand. It is a condition based on the ugly reality of government medicine. The Times reports that economists - not right-wingers opposed to health care who want to blow up Times Square - say liberalizing "the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe."
Of course most of the media have been largely silent about the health care privatization measure for Greece, as it conflicts with their universal, single-payer health care narrative.
The public health system in the Hellenic Republic is operated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, where centralized decisions and rules are made.
It provides free or low-cost treatment through what is essentially a single-payer system established in 1983 when the Socialist Party was in power. Family members and retirees are also covered. Like the systems in Britain and Canada, it has agonizingly long waiting lists.
It should be no surprise that in Greece, health care spending as a percentage of the economy is relatively steep. According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data, it's higher than that in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Japan. Despite all the spending, Greece could never cover 100% of its citizens, reaching only about 83% for primary care.
Today, the patient most in need of a room in the intensive-care ward is Greece itself - what with government debt nearing 120% of GDP and the deficit at 13% of GDP.
The mere possibility of government spending cuts sent striking workers and public employees into the streets. Groups upset with the budget cuts have protested, rioted, looted and killed.
On May 5, three died in a bank fire fueled by a Molotov cocktail during a riot against the austerity measures that have been intended to save the government from bankruptcy and, as well, secure aid from other nations.
After much wrangling, a bailout (an ill-advised reward for bad behavior) of roughly $145 billion is in line for a government that could not control its spending addiction.
The U.S. won't be the next Greece. Other nations, all of them with some version of government health care dragging them down, will fail first. But we are next in line among developed nations to turn over our health care to politically minded lawmakers and rule-making bureaucrats who operate in their own self-interest.
At what point will this nation realize that ObamaCare, lumped onto the pile of entitlements that are already headed into a financial abyss, is an expense that the nation cannot afford?
Already we've seen government agencies tell us that the initial estimates for the Democrats' health care overhaul were too low. We've watched as patients have suffered in Britain and Canada because the large demand placed on their "free" health care systems caused them to be overloaded.
We've stood in awe as Washington, refusing to hear the strong message from voters, forced on the American people a new health care system that most clearly did not want.
What more do we need to see?
Life provides us with an infinite number of situations that can teach us valuable lessons. The problems in Greece are teaching us one of those right now. If we don't learn from this history lesson, we are bound to repeat it.