Joseph Reichert is right on the money with his take on pitfalls of free market capitalism. I agree that business people should have consciences, but our capitalism was never intended to depend on the goodness of people.
As I understand it — and I’m far from an economics expert — it is Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” that is meant to engender conscionable results from selfish pursuits. This really pertains to markets other than healthcare — whether or not healthcare should be run by private industry or provided by the government as a basic right is a discussion that’s relevant here, but is beside the point and impossible to adequately address in the space allotted. Under the Invisible Hand, greed is good because it inadvertently serves the well-being of society by creating jobs and keeping costs down through competition, but in our twenty-first-century and globalized economy those jobs are either shipped overseas to places with cheap labor, or automated to save cost.
We’re basing our nation’s economy on an idea from the eighteenth century, a time when there wasn’t a healthcare industry. Times are changing and our ideas need to change with them. The free market cannot work if the Invisible Hand is no longer viable. If conditions are such that there are no checks on greed, then it falls to the government to provide them, even Smith himself admitted as much. We’ve reached an era in history wherein our own capitalists pose a greater threat to us than any foreign army.
Dan Gruchala, Belleville
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