Central Planning Fails in America

soviet nail

America’s victory over the Soviet Union represented the great triumph of the free market over central planning. Now, the state-run economy is making a hilarious comeback. Unfortunately, the joke’s on us.

I’m talking, of course, about the ongoing unraveling of the so-called Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare (or a myriad of other significantly less charitable permutations). After endless controversy, debate, speculation, and all-around conflict split mostly along partisan lines, the ACA’s website is finally up and doing its own talking. And boy oh boy, is it ever shaping up to be a disastrous, broken, Soviet-era retro failure.

Beginning with the first word in the ACA acronym: affordable. The purpose of this whole legislative monstrosity was to make healthcare affordable to everyday Americans. Never mind that putting the government (which is immune to the market forces of competition) in charge of making something affordable is as effective as assigning a toddler to protect the cookie supply. Sure enough, the less astute of us have been shocked to see their insurance premiums spike.

And how’s that $300 million monster of a website working out so far? Laughably. Badly enough to merit a congressional hearing. And the problems are only beginning. In fact, it would seem that the only thing Healthcare.gov is really good at is soliciting comparisons with decades-old outdated technology.

All this is eerily reminiscent of Soviet-era production mishaps. These were immortalized by the giant nail joke, which posited that factories, charged with meeting the government’s arbitrary production quotas, would uselessly fulfill requirements to produce a certain weight of nails by creating one giant nail. The same principles which led to the collapse of the Soviet economy still hold true. In a free market economy, goods and services are produced to meet the exact, ever-changing needs of millions of consumers, highly sensitive to keeping costs low and production efficient. A state-run economy, on the other hand, is largely shielded from these market signals. Asking the government to provide affordable, effective, universal healthcare is just plain ridiculous. Unless, of course, your real goal was to nostalgically relive the glorious failures of the U.S.S.R.

I’m all out of “In Soviet Russia” jokes. Don’t worry, though: Congress and the Obama administration have provided one of titanic proportions. And just like said Titanic, it looks like the Obamacare ship has a date with the proverbial bottom of the ocean.

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