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The Art of the Impossible (Thomas Sowell)
Creators Syndicate ^ | December 30, 2008 | Thomas Sowell

Posted on 12/30/2008 2:03:00 PM PST by jazusamo

Whoever called politics "the art of the possible" must have had a strange idea of what is possible or a strange idea of politics, where the impossible is one of the biggest vote-getters.

People can get the possible on their own. Politicians have to be able to offer the voters something that they cannot get on their own. The impossible fills that bill perfectly.

As a noted economist has pointed out, nothing "could prevent the California electorate from simultaneously demanding low electricity prices and no new generating plants while using ever increasing amounts of electricity."

You want the impossible? You got it. Politicians don't get elected by saying "No" to voters.

Of course Californians also got electricity blackouts and, in order to deal with the blackouts, a multi-billion dollar surplus in the state's treasury was turned into a multi-billion dollar deficit, followed by cutbacks in various other government programs, followed by calls for higher taxes.

You want the government to create more jobs for people when there is widespread unemployment? It's been done. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the government employed more young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps than there were in the Army. The money to pay for all this had to come from somewhere— and that meant that there was less money left to employ other people in the private sector. While jobs created by the government may not have reduced total unemployment, these jobs increased votes for the administration, which is the real bottom line in politics.

Are you for "open space" laws forbidding building and also for "affordable housing"? Don't be discouraged by the fact that severe building restrictions have sent housing prices sky-rocketing in community after community.

It may be impossible to have "open space" laws and "affordable housing" at the same time, but what are politicians there for, except to figure out ways to give us the impossible?

Palo Alto, California, where housing prices nearly quadrupled in one decade after severe building restrictions were imposed, also pioneered in laws mandating that each builder agree to sell a certain percentage of any new housing "below market."

In other words, they combined "open space" laws with "affordable housing." Who says the impossible cannot be achieved?

Of course this system can work only where just a fraction of the new housing is sold "below market." Moreover, the market price of housing is raised so far above what it was by building restrictions that even "below market" prices for condominiums in Palo Alto can run to $300,000 or $400,000.

This is hardly "affordable housing" for people on modest incomes. Only 7 percent of Palo Alto's police, for example, live in Palo Alto— probably older cops who bought their homes long ago.

But none of that matters politically. What matters is that people in Palo Alto can feel good about themselves, by being for both "open space" and "affordable housing." Happy voters are what get politicians re-elected.

The big political crusade today is for "affordable" medical care through the government. No one believes that government is just going to be more efficient, and thereby have lower costs that will be reflected in lower prices for medications and medical treatment.

It might seem as if adding the costs of government bureaucracies to the costs of medications and medical treatment would make it impossible for the total costs to go down. But again, the impossible is no problem in politics.

Many countries around the world already have government-run medical care. People who get sick in these countries usually wait much longer to get treatment, including months on waiting lists for surgery, often paying in pain or debilitation, rather than money.

High-tech medical devices like MRIs are also far less common in these countries than in the United States. With medical care as with anything else, you can always get poorer quality at a lower price, though that is no bargain, especially when you are sick.

What you may have in mind are lower prices with no reduction in quality. While that may be impossible, don't expect that fact to stop politicians from offering it, even if they can't deliver.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: politicians; sowell; thomassowell

1 posted on 12/30/2008 2:03:01 PM PST by jazusamo
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To: abigail2; Alia; Amalie; American Quilter; arthurus; awelliott; Bahbah; bamahead; Battle Axe; ...
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2 posted on 12/30/2008 2:04:04 PM PST by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the government employed more young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps than there were in the Army

Hmmmm ...

Now we have Zero babbling about some sort of civilian securtiy force as big and well funded as the Military ... FDR was a fascist ... Barry Hussein kinda looks like one, too.

3 posted on 12/30/2008 2:09:30 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: jazusamo
It might seem as if adding the costs of government bureaucracies to the costs of medications and medical treatment would make it impossible for the total costs to go down. But again, the impossible is no problem in politics.

We already have massive bureaucracies and regulation in health care. Most of them are connected with insurance companies, but that doesn't make compliance cheaper. When I was a kid and went to the doctor, he had one nurse/receptionist. Today there are at least a dozen people working in every medical office, most of them dealing with the paperwork, not providing health care.

However, I'm sure the government will find a way to make health care even less efficient than it is with the present public/private hybrid.

4 posted on 12/30/2008 2:10:19 PM PST by Sherman Logan (Everyone has a right to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.)
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To: ArrogantBustard
FDR was a fascist ... Barry Hussein kinda looks like one, too.

I don't think there's any doubt about it and him talking about a civilian security force is scary.

5 posted on 12/30/2008 2:22:14 PM PST by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: Sherman Logan

You’re right. Health care is out of sight now and I believe it’s because of government. If the RATS get some form of socialized medicine passed we’ll still pay through the nose but suffer greatly decreased care.

My folks never had health insurance until later in life but as you say many years ago it was affordable unless something major happened.


6 posted on 12/30/2008 2:30:09 PM PST by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: jazusamo
Okay, so what do we do to stop “A civilian security force” or “governmental health care” or the “impossible promises” made to the dead-heads who voted for this silly prattle?

First of all, I can't see any kid I know signing up for PEBO’s Security Force. The ones he's aiming to woo are already a part of the Black Panthers. The ones he's going to ignore entirely are going to return the favor by ignoring him.

As to government-supplied health care, what AMA doc is going to sign up to make $1.98 an hour for the government. As far as I know, their lobby is still pretty powerful. I dunno’. Sounds like PEBO should launch into The Man from LeManchia’s “Impossible Dream”. Do we know if PEBO can sing?

7 posted on 12/30/2008 2:34:53 PM PST by Constitutions Grandchild
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To: Constitutions Grandchild

You make a good point about the make up of a civilian security force. If he reaches out to the dregs of society to staff it it could mean his early downfall.


8 posted on 12/30/2008 2:44:42 PM PST by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: Cacique

btt


9 posted on 12/30/2008 2:47:06 PM PST by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: jazusamo; All
Thomas Sowell- always dependable for intelligent analysis. Never boring, always to the point. One of the best thinkers around. I wish we had more Thomas Sowells around.
10 posted on 12/30/2008 2:54:48 PM PST by truthguy (Good intentions are not enough!)
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To: truthguy
One of the best thinkers around

I agree. Thomas Sowell is the wisest person whose thoughts I periodically have access to.

Have you ever wondered why so many black people have so little regard for him? Many blacks I meet do not even know who he is but then they often do not know who Everett Dirksen was or do they admire Bill Cosby or find his advice useful.

11 posted on 12/30/2008 3:25:29 PM PST by MosesKnows (Love many, Trust few, and always paddle your own canoe)
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To: jazusamo

Liberals rarely think this far ahead.

Plus extra transmission lines, toxic battery production and storage, then...

nothing “could prevent the California electorate from simultaneously demanding low electricity prices and no new generating plants while using ever increasing amounts of electricity.”


12 posted on 12/30/2008 3:50:18 PM PST by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: jazusamo

“People who get sick in these countries usually wait much longer to get treatment, including months on waiting lists for surgery, often paying in pain or debilitation, rather than money.”

And death I might add. There was an article last night about a fellow in the UK whom was sent to the Hospital with a note from his Doctor stating he required immediate attention, and stated in the note as to why. The hospital personnel did not abide by the Doctor’s note, and hours later the man died while waiting in line for the needed attention.

This sort of neglect in Government run healthcare is reported all too often. The Politicians lie, and people die.


13 posted on 12/30/2008 7:00:10 PM PST by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists, Call 'em what you will, they ALL have Fairies livin' in their Trees.)
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To: jazusamo

Wow. This should be chiseled in stone over the Capitol Building. Truer words were never spoken.

This thought should appear as a disclaimer after every political commercial: “You want the impossible? You got it. Politicians don’t get elected by saying “No” to voters.” If it seems too good to be true, it is.


14 posted on 12/30/2008 7:59:36 PM PST by Rocky
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To: jazusamo

dittos


15 posted on 12/30/2008 8:01:26 PM PST by dennisw (On the 31st floor a gold plated door won't keep out the Lord's burning rage ---FBB)
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To: jazusamo
Many countries around the world already have government-run medical care. People who get sick in these countries usually wait much longer to get treatment, including months on waiting lists for surgery, often paying in pain or debilitation, rather than money. High-tech medical devices like MRIs are also far less common in these countries than in the United States. With medical care as with anything else, you can always get poorer quality at a lower price, though that is no bargain, especially when you are sick. What you may have in mind are lower prices with no reduction in quality. While that may be impossible, don't expect that fact to stop politicians from offering it, even if they can't deliver.
Those countries have fewer bankruptcies caused by medical bills. That is something to consider.
16 posted on 12/31/2008 8:33:02 AM PST by dbz77
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To: dbz77

Compared to being dead, or in agony?

Higher prices are also caused by a) lawyers and b) income tax.

Income tax also makes it harder for customers to have more money to use.


17 posted on 12/31/2008 3:55:44 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Technological progress cannot be legislated.)
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To: dbz77

“Those countries have fewer bankruptcies caused by medical bills. That is something to consider.”

Those countries also do not have health insurance companies trying to see how much of your skyrocketing premium money they get to keep, and hedging on paying those bills until you have to declare bankruptcy! Take a look at the size of their organizations, and buildings, then take a look at your dwelling. It’s ALL ABOUT the money!

And while your at it, ask your doctor how much money he spends on additional staff trying to file claims, appeals, pre-certifications, and all the other red tape that health insurance companies throw into the mix to muddy the water. As a twenty year veteran of working in the industry on all levels, I can tell you it’s one of the biggest con jobs EVER perpetrated on this country.


18 posted on 01/01/2009 9:55:59 AM PST by GWMcClintock (Right after Lib Democrats, the most dangerous politicians are country club Republicans. T. Sowell)
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To: GWMcClintock
Those countries also do not have health insurance companies trying to see how much of your skyrocketing premium money they get to keep, and hedging on paying those bills until you have to declare bankruptcy! Take a look at the size of their organizations, and buildings, then take a look at your dwelling. It’s ALL ABOUT the money! And while your at it, ask your doctor how much money he spends on additional staff trying to file claims, appeals, pre-certifications, and all the other red tape that health insurance companies throw into the mix to muddy the water. As a twenty year veteran of working in the industry on all levels, I can tell you it’s one of the biggest con jobs EVER perpetrated on this country.
How would price controls affect medical care?
19 posted on 01/01/2009 7:03:06 PM PST by dbz77
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To: dbz77
How would price controls affect medical care?

The same way price controls affect any product or service: reduce its availability.

20 posted on 01/01/2009 7:15:51 PM PST by okie01 (THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA: Ignorance on Parade)
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To: jazusamo

Please add me to the list.

Every time I think about Obama being the First! Black! President! instead of Thomas Sowell, I get heartsick all over again.


21 posted on 01/02/2009 7:36:28 AM PST by nina0113 (Hugh Akston is my hero.)
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To: jazusamo
You make a good point about the make up of a civilian security force. If he reaches out to the dregs of society to staff it it could mean his early downfall.

If he staffs it with gang bangers, and uses it to hassle the middle class, there may be trouble.

22 posted on 01/02/2009 7:56:57 AM PST by PapaBear3625 (We used to institutionalize the insane. Now we elect them.)
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To: nina0113

Welcome nina0113, you’re on.

I agree completely with your feelings and feel the same.


23 posted on 01/02/2009 8:13:21 AM PST by jazusamo (But there really is no free lunch, except in the world of political rhetoric,.: Thomas Sowell)
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To: dbz77

Price controls would do nothing. If EVERYONE had to pay out of pocket for their own health care, the market could not sustain such a high cost. Innovation would replace “price fixing” by health insurers, and market forces would drive down the cost. Think not?

At a normal veterinarian office you can get an adominal x-ray for anywhere from $25-$75 (prices in the Midwest). That SAME x-ray on a human being will cost $300-500. The procedure is EXACTLY the same. The obvious answer is that health insurance companies are not a middleman for the most part in vet practices.


24 posted on 01/02/2009 7:04:44 PM PST by GWMcClintock (Right after Lib Democrats, the most dangerous politicians are country club Republicans. T. Sowell)
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