Heritage Foundation Admits Obamacare Doesn’t Destroy Freedom


The Heritage Foundation, now led by Jim DeMint, put out their annual Economic Freedom Index, a list of the countries in the world they deem to be the most free. And lo and behold, nearly all of the top 9 countries (the US is 10) have some form of government-provided or mandated health care:

The report defines the concept of “economic freedom” in misleading right-wing terms, but even by those standards, it appears that universal health care systems far more expansive than Obamacare aren’t “fundamentally inconsistent with liberty.” In fact, the ten “freest” economies in 2013 by Heritage’s lights range from mandating individuals save a certain amount of money for health care to almost the entire health care system, including hospitals, being owned and operated by the government

6 of the 9 have nationalized health care or single-payer systems. Two of them have mandates that require people to pay a certain percentage of their income to health care savings accounts. One has a system much like the US will have starting in 2014. But gee, I thought even subsidized private insurance was a “government takeover” of the health care system that would destroy freedom and lead to the Fourth Reich? Oh, wait. The individual mandate was actually the Heritage Foundation’s idea, long before they suddenly discovered it’s liberty-destroying properties when it was proposed by a Democrat. Funny how times change.

Comments

  1. arakasi says

    I’m not exactly sure how I would define “economic freedom”, but I can say that I would be far more likely to quit my job and open a bookstore if I knew that my family’s healthcare was covered even if the business fails

  2. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Did not organizations like the Heritage Foundation come up with the plan that has since been dubbed Obamacare?

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    It might also be interesting to see how those “most free” countries are faring with gun control.
    .
    And why isn’t Somalia rated higher? Less government = more freedom, right?

  4. says

    So, according to the Heritage Foundation, the two freest countries in the world are Hong Kong, which is not a democracy and Singapore, a country with one the harshest judicial systems in the world where people can be caned for relatively minor offenses including leaving a wad of chewing gum on the subway.

  5. ambulocetacean says

    These people are clearly idiots, so I don’t think I have any real insight into their thought processes.

    But, as an Australian, I must protest about Australia (and New Zealand) being ranked in the top five most free countries while the good old US of A languishes at No. 10.

    Australia (and, I’m guessing, New Zealand) have inherited Britain’s insane libel laws, which effectively means that you can’t criticise anyone in print.

    Remember how the British Chiropractic Association sued Simon Singh for rightly calling their bullshit “bogus”? The same shit applies in Australia and has had such a chilling effect that it is now effectively impossible even to criticise homeopathy in the Australian media. Ed would have been in jail long ago had he been trying to pull this “Dispatches” shit in Oz.

    Also, Australian government schools have compulsory Christianity-indoctrination lessons — provided, usually, by outside born-again wackaloon groups.

    Our atheist prime minister has continued pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the unrelated government-school chaplaincy program, in which, rather than employing much-needed teachers and qualified counsellors, the government pays churches to employ clergy of all Christian stripes and fuck-all qualifications to waste space and tell children that homosexuality is evil and, in some cases, that the Earth is just 7000 years old.

    This despite the fact that the High Court ruled last year that the chaplaincy program was unconstitutional. Our atheist PM told the High Court to fuck off and continued to plough taxpayer money into the homophopbic, anti-scientific Christian indoctrination of children in public schools.

    While the Heritage Foundation would no doubt love the fact that Australians don’t have free speech and that Australian children undergo mandatory Christian indoctrination, they would hate our strict gun laws, free health care and minimum wages and working conditions..

    Whichever way you slice it, Australia is not in the top five of anything.

  6. says

    I really hate when people take their ideological proclivities and relabel them as “freedom”. And I’m not sure why anyone should care.

  7. D. C. Sessions says

    The Heritage definition of “freedom” is heavily weighted towards the freedom of individuals and companies to pollute and otherwise get away without anything resembling economic oversight.

    Lesser credit applies inversely to the strength of unions.

  8. laurentweppe says

    Did not organizations like the Heritage Foundation come up with the plan that has since been dubbed Obamacare?

    You don’t get it: the “plan” was to pretend that right wing polticians had an alternative to state controlled single payer because simply saying they favored the status quo was commiting political suicide: implementing the phony alternative was never part of the plan.

  9. Dennis N says

    I assume they support workers having the freedom to unionize and weight that as an important freedom? Or do they rank only wingnut versions of freedom?

  10. says

    Economic freedom is the right to stick it out in an underpaid dead-end job without the option of leaving and starting your own business because you can’t afford to take risks that might leave you or someone you care about without treatment for illness or accident, and also you can’t work for a small employer because they can’t afford to negotiate good rates for medical care.

    So shut up and get back to work, those Excel tables won’t sort themselves!

  11. fentex says

    A disdain for Obamacare yet an acceptance for public funded health in other places doesn’t have to be hypocritical does it? Obamacare is not public health funding after all, it’s a different thing.

  12. fentex says

    Australia (and, I’m guessing, New Zealand) have inherited Britain’s insane libel laws, which effectively means that you can’t criticise anyone in print.

    I can’t speak for Oz, but I can for NZ and no, we don’t have Britain’s insane libel laws and there is little to prevent a person criticising others in print here.

  13. dingojack says

    ambulocetacean – I’d suggest you drag yourself inshore and look around.
    a) Actually read a newspaper. They criticise people, institutions and companies all the time. If what they publish is not knowingly false and is in ‘the public interest’ suing them will fail.
    b) “Australian government schools have compulsory Christianity-indoctrination lessons — provided, usually, by outside born-again wackaloon groups.” Ah no, no they don’t. They have voluntary religious indoctrination lessons (of various kinds, run by various groups) and ethics classes for those who opt out. (Better than in my day when those who opted out ended up wasting 50 mins with our Chemistry teacher)
    c) “….continued to plough taxpayer money into the homophopbic, anti-scientific Christian indoctrination of children in public schools”. You, of course, have compelling evidence that the ‘School Chaplaincy Program’ is indoctrinating children with ;homophobic*, anti-scientific Christian ideas**, naturally.
    d) Reporters without Borders would disagree with your claim that Australians ‘don’t have free speech’, they certainly don’t put Australia in the top five, but they are better than the US

    Dingo
    ——–
    * or ‘homophopbic’ ideas even ;)
    ** What? Even the Rabbis and Imnans? I didn’t realise that Julia was that powerful. Wow!

  14. ambulocetacean says

    Hi Dingo,

    I admit that I over-egged the pudding a little, but not a whole lot.

    Australia’s defamation laws are far stricter than those in the US. Yes, the media can and do criticise people. And, yes, truth is a defence if you can get a judge to agree that the publication of your allegations was in the public interest.

    But the strictness of the laws is only part of the problem. I was also talking about how the chilling effect of those laws leads to self-censorship.

    Media outlets are, of course, increasingly strapped for cash, and the instinct of mid-level editorial decision-makers is to gut or simply not print anything that could potentially result in a lawsuit — even a completely meritless, vexatious lawsuit — unless the story would be front-page news.

    This happens all the time, though of course it is almost never reported. One rare account is this:

    http://blogs.theage.com.au/triage/archives/2009/07/watered_down_news.html

    As to your Reporters without Borders link, it actually ranks Australia as #30 in the world for press freedom, behind various places in Africa and Latin America. The site’s Australia country page has a long list of things of problems with press freedom in Australia.

    There’s the whole problem of there being no protection (quite the contrary) for whistleblowers who leak information in the public interest, and so on and so on.

    Australia isn’t the Soviet Union, of course, but it’s still pretty bad in this regard and only seems headed in the wrong direction.

  15. ambulocetacean says

    Dingo,

    “They have voluntary religious indoctrination lessons (of various kinds, run by various groups) and ethics classes for those who opt out.”

    I contend that they are effectively compulsory because the kids must take the classes unless their parents opt them out.. That’s certainly no less accurate than your description of them as voluntary. And do all parents even realise that they have the option of opting their kids out?

    Do any states other than NSW have ethics classes as an alternative? Victoria certainly doesn’t. Victorian pupils whose parents opt them out of religion classes are not offered any alternative class. The churches have been lobbying state governments hard to make sure that this is the case, to make opting out as unattractive as possible.

    “You, of course, have compelling evidence that the ‘School Chaplaincy Program’ is indoctrinating children with ;homophobic*, anti-scientific Christian ideas”

    Well here’s an instance of the latter: “http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/row-over-creationists-class-lecture/story-fn59niix-1226114839237″

    And what do you really think a Catholic or born-again chaplain is going to tell a kid who thinks they might be gay? “Gee, that’s great, Timmy. There’s nothing wrong with being gay!”

    The ombudsman’s report highlighted complaints of proselytising (which is supposedly prohibited) and stated that that problem is probably far bigger than what those complaints represent.

    And yeah, obviously, I was neglecting the existence of Jewish and Muslim religion.

    You’re right that I over-sensationalised things a bit, but I don’t think I did as much as you think I did.

    Oh, and re: the US on the Reporters without Borders list? It fell from #20 to #47 last year because of reporters getting arrested at Occupy Wall Street protests. I wager it will bounce back this year and beat Australia.

    Cheers,
    Amby

  16. dingojack says

    Amby (I may call you Amby, mayn’t I?) – Firstly, if parents don’t know they can opt their children out of religious instruction they haven’t been paying attention. The Teachers Federation has been pushing the line that teachers should inform students and parents for some time.
    Secondly, whatever the Ombudsman’s opinion, it’s the evidence that is telling. The evidence has not really shown wholesale proselytising overall.
    Thirdly, quite a few schools (including several that friends of mine teach at) have sizable Muslim, Buddhist and even Zoroastrian population so they’re ‘councillors’ are not Christian. I would imagine that there would be many schools that have such mixed religious beliefs, Christian proselytizing would go down very badly.
    Fourthly, <a href=”http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/row-over-creationists-class-lecture/story-fn59niix-1226114839237″>The Racist Rag</a> : thus The Wiz of Oz
    Fifthly, The US weren’t that high to begin with, for all their vaunted ‘freedom of the press’.
    Dingo

  17. ambulocetacean says

    Sure you can call me Amby. Hell, you can call me Shirley if you want.

    “if parents don’t know they can opt their children out of religious instruction they haven’t been paying attention”

    Uh, sure. So? Are you saying that the children of inattentive parents or parents who don’t speak much English should just suck it up on top of their other disadvantages?

    “The evidence has not really shown wholesale proselytising overall.”

    How much do you consider acceptable?

    Come to that, how much money do you think the Federal Government should be spending to employ clergy in roles that would be much better filled by qualified counsellors?

    “quite a few schools … have sizable Muslim, Buddhist and even Zoroastrian population so they’re ‘councillors’ are not Christian.”

    We weren’t talking about counsellors; we were talking about chaplains. I don’t want the government paying for Muslim, Buddhist or Zoroastrian clergy in state schools either.

    The government already spends billions funding religious schools of every stripe. Why on Earth should it also pay to put clergy into state schools?

    “The Racist Rag”

    Surely you’re not saying that the fact you don’t like The Australian invalidates the facts!

  18. ambulocetacean says

    slc1, Thanks, I’m aware of that. But it doesn’t have any bearing on the facts of the story I was talking about.

  19. slc1 says

    Re ambulocetacean @ #21

    But it does call into question the reliability of anything published there. Just as anything said or written on Fox News should not be taken as factual without independent verification.

  20. harold says

    where people can be caned for relatively minor offenses including leaving a wad of chewing gum on the subway.

    As a progressive, I oppose caning and other forms of corporal punishment.

    However, I will give Singapore some credit – if you’re going to cane, at least can people who deserve it. I believe they also used to cane people for not flushing public toilets. I support public transit and public facilities, and I don’t have much sympathy for people who selfishly make them uncomfortable for everyone else.

  21. martinc says

    Another Australian here. Re the newspaper ‘The Australian’, certainly there’s an unhealthy slice of Rupert Murdoch powered right wing whackaloon going on there, and they’re paddling doggedly after having tied themselves to the boat anchor of climate change denialism (all-time record 115.5F in Sydney on Friday – jes’ sayin’), but the chaplaincy issue was broader than The Oz: the Fairfax press had a good go at it too.

    The chaplaincy idea is certainly bad policy which lends itself to religious abuse, but there is not a lot of evidence that it has happened a great deal. Again we see a theme come up that I have noted many times: the USA, which has extremely strong protection against religious involvement in government, suffers far more from attempted religious involvement in government than Australia which does not have such protections. Here, when some twit says something religious and dumb, he gets shouted down by the majority of the public. In America, he gets supported by the public until someone beats them over the head with the Constitution.

    Recently there have been disturbing moves in the ruling party toward religious nuttery. The chaplain thing, attempts at internet censorship, and currently an attempt to enshrine in law religions’ “right” to discriminate in employment and opportunity against those whose lifestyle is opposed to the religions’ philosophy (that means TEH GAYZ for those who are particularly poor at reading between lines). This government is the equivalent of America’s Democrats – it’s the left-wing side of our politics, and of course both American parties are to the right of centre from the perspective of any other Western nation – but these attempts to pander to the Christian nutters have been driven by the nature of the Parliament: the last election was basically a draw, with the Labor party being more successful in wooing the three independents to form a government. Since then, we’ve had a few of these weird attempts (doomed ones in my opinion) to win votes from the loony Christian right, which is far less powerful here than in the USA. I suspect it is an attempt to grasp at any possible chunk of votes for the next election. The internet censorship plan died an unlamented death a few months ago, fortunately.

    In general though, I can’t agree with Amby. We may have harsher libel laws here than in the USA, but it does not seem to have stifled free speech in any great manner, judging by what has been published. And there is no doubt that our health system is miles ahead of the USA’s, and deserves to be listed as such.

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