In an AP interview on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called for competition in the health insurance market. No, not between private insurance providers free to set their own policies, but between the private sector and the federal government. Failing to understand (or acknowledge) that the top and proper priority of any private enterprise that intends to survive is profit, not service to others, she boldly claimed that the private insurance market “has really failed to provide affordable coverage to Americans.”
There can be no real competition in the market if one player makes the rules for the others and cannot run out of money. If (when) the government health care system fails to live up to its stated goals, it will not suffer downsizing or face bankruptcy. It will simply expand its scope of power further and extort or print more money to more vigorously continue to pursue its wrongheaded ends. Furthermore, the private sector and the government are competing for two very different things. The former seeks to earn money by selling something people are willing to buy. The latter, which can get all the funds it wants through confiscation and printing money, competes instead for dependency. In that race, no one else is running.
So what Sebelius really wants is not competition between trader and trader, but the sad spectacle of a contest between armed mugger and disarmed victim. At least a mugger won’t try to convince his victim that the robbery is for his own benefit.