Best columns: The U.S.
Health-care markets can’t be free
The New York Times
If you want a free-market health-care system, said emergency room physician Farzon Nahvi, “you must be willing to let some patients die.” House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans who advocate giving people “the freedom” not to be covered in any way are promoting a big lie. In our society, health care is not an optional consumer good that people can choose to turn down. Every day, badly injured or dying patients arrive in my hospital who have no insurance; some are unconscious. Later, they sometimes express dismay that we saved them, because they know they’ve run up bills of tens of thousands of dollars. One man we saved from a brain bleed told me that he’d rather have died and left his family his life insurance payment than have burdened them with a massive medical bill and bankruptcy. Someone winds up paying for uncompensated care, whether it’s the hospitals legally obligated to provide it or the taxpayers who subsidize it. “Deep down inside, we all intuitively know that health care is not a free market.” If you want true “freedom,” you have to be willing to let uninsured people found “lying unconscious in the street remain there and die.”
Reversing the tide on immigration
President Trump “will never be mistaken for a master of the sweet art of persuasion,” said Rich Lowry, but he “is clearly winning the public argument on the issue of immigration.” When Trump promised during his presidential campaign to crack down on illegal immigration and ratchet up deportations, he ran directly into “the teeth of the elite consensus,” which included not only Democrats but also moderate Republicans. But the immigration issue played a critical role in Trump’s stunning election victory, and he’s had great success in reducing the number of people trying to cross the border. Those realities have left many center-left intellectuals calling on Democrats to reconsider their absolutist support for both legal and illegal immigration. In recent weeks, liberal columnists such as Fareed Zakaria and Peter Beinart have written that U.S. policy “should take account of the economic costs as well as the benefits of immigration.” In an even greater heresy, liberal academic Jeff Colgan has acknowledged that “it is not bigotry to calibrate immigration levels to the ability of immigrants to assimilate.” If Democrats do recalibrate on immigration, “the unlikely instrument of the sea change will be none other than Donald J. Trump.”
A dangerous voter-fraud commission
“Donald Trump’s obsession with proving he won the election has gone from the slightly ridiculous to the dangerous,” said Linda Chavez. “Rankled that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton,” the president decided—based on zero evidence—that only massive fraud, chiefly by illegal immigrants, could explain how the Democrat got nearly 3 million more votes than he did. So Trump appointed an “electoral integrity” commission to prove that voter fraud was rampant. That commission wants to collect “an unprecedented trove of personal data” about every registered voter in the U.S., including names, birth dates, addresses, voting history, and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Right now, this information is diffused across all 50 states; collected in one centralized place, it would prove a gold mine for hackers, criminals, and foreign adversaries, opening the door to massive election tampering and identity theft. This is a very real threat: In 2016, hackers tried to intrude in the voting systems of 39 states. Fortunately, 44 states, including many controlled by Republicans, are refusing to provide much or all of the data, to protect people’s privacy. Assembling a massive database of all American voters would pose a major “national security risk” far greater than Trump’s imagined horde of illegal voters. ■