Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Last Obama-Romney Debate, American Culture,  and Entrepreneurialism
Culture is not life in its entirety, but just the moment of security, strength, and clarity.
Joe Oretga  y Gasset (1883-1955), Meditations
October 23, 2011 - I’m mulling over what I think of last night’s last debate between President Obama and Governor Romney. The debate said  nothing to about the health system and everything about where we want to be as a nation.  The choice is between our current entrepreneurial culture and a future secure government-based culture.  The choice is about entrepreneurial risk-taking vs. government guaranteed economic security.
 Romney argued that our security rests on our economic strength and our clarity in expressing and applying that strength.  Obama, on the other hand, seems to be saying our strength lies in economic equality between the haves and have-not and the political equality between nations.
The American culture in this center-right capitalistic nation defines the limits of health reform.  
Our culture believes in,

·         the exceptionalism of the American medical system 

·         in individualism rather than collectivism

·         the God-given right of patients and doctors to make decisions

·         in entrepreneurs taking risks and supplying the seed corn that grows the American economy

·         in equal opportunity rather than equal outcomes

·         in over-regulation and over-taxing as the main cause of an under-performing economy.

When I say this, I may be suffering  from the opiate of exceptionalism, from ignoring these realities.  As Scott Shane, a reporter for the New York Times,  points out, we are number 1, all right:
·         in  small  arms ownership 

·         in  incarcerating our citizen, at higher rates than Russia, Cuba, Iran or China

·         in obesity, easily outweighing No. 2 Mexico and nearly ten times the rate of Japan

·         in energy use per person, double that of German.  

Even worse, says Shane, we rank 48th in infant mortality, 14th in percent of citizens with higher education, and 36the in childhood poverty.  S
We are not a perfect society, nor do we purport to be.   But, for all our imperfections, we are free – free to act as we please, free to say how we feel, free to make our health care decisions. We are even free to call our political opponents liars as the New York Times did in an October 21 editorial on health care, “Twisting the Facts about Health Care, How the Republicans Ticket Has Been Misrepresenting Its Plan, and If Not Lying.”
But as Carl Schramm a professor at Syracuse and co-author with Robert E. Litan of Better Capitalism, just published by Yale, so cogently argues: entrepreneurs are the crown jewels of the American economy.  They, not government, produced over 60% of all new jobs.  This is evident from the successes of the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs.   Other than Israel, no country produces more new businesses perk capital than the U.S. Nearly 70% of high school student aspire to be an entrepreneur. Most parents think having a son running a small business or a successful medial practice ranks right up there with being President.  Entrepreneurs from around the world flock to America. This election, says Schramm, is about the role of entrepreneurs in the economy and how to unleash their talents without killing their dreams with excessive taxes and regulations.

Tweet:   The coming Presidential election is about capitalism vs. a government-controlled economy and about unleashing entrepreneurs among us.
1.      Scott Shane,  “The Opiate of Exceptionalism, “ New York Times,  October 21, 2012.

2.      Editorial, “Twisting the Facts about Health Care: How the Republican  Ticket Has Been Misrepresenting Its Plans, If Not Lying,  New York Times, October 21, 2012. 

3.      Carl Schramm, “Elections about Econ9omy is about Entrpreneurs,” Real Clear Markets, October 223, 2012.


Anonymous said...

Be very careful in the use of infant mortality stats in international comparisons. It is pretty well-known that there isn't a shared standard around the world for what consitutes a live birth. For example, very low weight infants are not counted in some countries, but are tabulated in the USA numbers.

Richard L. Reece, MD said...

I'm aware of this discrepancy in infant mortality statistics. Ours are low because we count the very low infants while others do not. We save more of these tiny infants. too. Thansk for the reminder.