Education is the answer

Every now and then my mother, whom I love dearly, will summon the courage to recommend something to her increasingly-affected firstborn son. That would be me. Two years ago she told me about a book she thought I would like called “Basic Economics” written by Thomas Sowell. If you don’t know who he is, check him out here or here.

Yes, I realize I included a wikipedia link there. Sue me. It’s helpful in getting an accurate biographical impression via an open-sourced network of information. If you don’t like it, get his books. They are amazing.

In reading his book, something he said struck me as very useful, and not just in the study of Economics, but in all things. I chose to sum up his words in my own words here… again, sue me.

“Until each of us fully comprehend and understand the basic truths of xyz, we cannot expect others to effectively make rational decisions. We must be educated on the basic principles of xyz in order to correct the bad decisions we made based on our previously faulted knowledge.’

In this book, what he intends to explain is that we cannot expect Americans to understand our economic system if they do not LEARN how our economic system operates. He spends a great deal of time comparing the capitalist system to the communist system and continually explains why things happen the way they do in each system. He writes so almost anyone get a sense of what he is explaining.

I like to think that I am not stupid. I understand the theory of supply and demand, the invisible hand, and so on. However, I needed to read some of this in order to understand our system more fully.

It made me think about other things that are causing a great deal of turmoil in America. Healthcare is something that people probably think they understand; however I doubt 99% of us have a clue what is really going on.

In his book, Sowell talks briefly about healthcare. One major thing he mentions is the phrase “bringing down the cost of healthcare” and how this phrase is hugely inaccurate. No politician is going to bring down the cost of healthcare. They can try to bring down the actual PRICE of healthcare, but not the cost. The only way to reduce the price is to reduce the costs of the inputs. Only people actually working in that area can do that (Doctors, researchers, teachers, nurses, etc.).

I believe I am fortunate to live in a country where the vast majority of innovation takes place. Since the Industrial Revolution, the USA has produced more innovations than other any country in the world. These innovations do not just happen, and they certainly aren’t free. However, I think most people will admit that these innovations have been useful and whether or not we all want to pay for them, we do.

We pay for medicines to be created (and I mean literally created) in labs, even if we may never use them personally. We pay for new technology to be created, even though we may never have personal need of it. I live in Nashville, and there are no less than 10 hospitals within 20 minutes of the downtown area. I don’t mean medical centers where you can get stitches, I mean legit hospitals where if I am having a heart attack, they can all do testing and get me into surgery super quick.

I pay for this luxury in a very intersting way. I pay for my own health insurance, and in so doing, I pay for access to these places. I may not need them, but if I do, I can be wheeled in, have a doctor work on me, and then have the majority of the bill sent to Blue Cross of TN. The rest of the bill comes to me, the guy whose life was likely saved by all that technology, some of which was purchased with my money, no matter how indirect it may seem.

I don’t have any problem with my insurance payments going to new research. I might need it one day. My mom or dad might need it. If I ever have children, one of them may need it. I am ok with that. Until we fully understand the costs of our healthcare (Education, Research, Development, etc.) we cannot complain about the prices. We are lucky enough to be forced into some form of ‘early-adoption’ of the new technologies. We complain about our good fortune because it raises the price of care. Poor pitiful us. The worst part is that most will complain either way: either the technology isn’t good enough (because no one wants to pay for innovation) or the price is too high (because the innovations aren’t cheap).

Until we take a more active role in our health care, we cannot complain about the lack of available options. When people are required to make informed decisions, they generally find a way to become informed. If the American people would wake up and pay attention, we could do this without the government getting involved to a large extent. I think it’s just easier for people to leave it to the government to decide for them. Idiots. People anxious to give up the freedoms we have here don’t deserve them in the first place.

It’s funny. I live in a country where we give money away like it’s water from the tap. A massive tsunami in the Indian Ocean, our government gives $950 Million to the affected countries. An earthquake in Haiti, $100 Million. The total estimate for 2008 foreign aid funding from the U.S.A. was $26 Billion. In 2008, we gave away $8.8 Billion to 10 countries alone. That money comes from me, from you and from almost everyone you know.

I normally end these with “cheers” but now I just want to smack the next person that complains about not having insurance.


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