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The President is proposing to overhaul the entire health-care system in this country over just two weeks. The idea that we can do so successfully is absurd. Our nation's best rocket scientists -- literally, our rocket scientists at NASA -- had to scrub five launch attempts in a row to get the Space Shuttle off the ground before it finally made this latest launch on its sixth attempt. And when the Shuttle got to the International Space Station, the toilet was broken. All of this would be just a little tragicomical if it didn't tell us that even when we devote billions of dollars, years of research, and some of the nation's most sophisticated minds to a matter, the government still ends up with costly failures and more than a few embarrassing mistakes. The thought that this same government -- in which the rocket scientists are defeated by Mother Nature and a naughty toilet -- can somehow overhaul the health-care system, and do so efficiently and effectively in just a matter of weeks, is so preposterous as to be worthy of contempt...if not utter outrage.
What should scare us most of all about any government-based health-care proposal is that it's likely to involve a lot of stick and very little carrot. "Fixing" the health-care system in America is hardly a single-step issue. We have a lot of uninsured people, a lot of people facing chronic diseases, and a lot of people who do very little to keep themselves well. We also have more tools than even the most imaginative sci-fi writer would've dreamt up a few decades ago -- "Bones" McCoy's medical scanner on "Star Trek" is not altogether different from today's reality -- and we have some astonishingly powerful prescription pharmaceuticals and other treatments at our disposal. All of these new things have bought us decades of extra life expectancy, but they also cost real money. But if you simply listen to the language of the White House, today's proposals are really mainly a matter of punishing insurance companies rather than rewarding innovations and policies that will reduce health-care costs over the long term.