Tuesday, August 11, 2009

FedEx is better than the Post Office

President Obama gave an analogy today about FedEx and UPS doing better than the Post Office. The implication is that if we have a "public option" your insurance plan and private insurance will do great. Of course, all he wants to do is give a menu for people to choose. Who can be against something so simple? C'mon people. Is he saying that because the Post Ofice sucks, his public plan will also suck? Why introduce it if it's going to suck? I don't know... who can understand the point of today's lesson in Obama-World rhetoric. A couple of things to note about this.

First, healthcare is infinitely more complex than a postal delivery system. To be sure, FedEx and UPS have advanced supply chains and excellently integrate technology into their business processes. But it is a fairly simple system to understand from point-of-order to point-of-delivery even if the quality of the execution differs between FedEx and the Post Office.

Second, the Post Office doesn't have as many stakeholders nor does it make life or death decisions. It doesn't make up 1/6th of the U.S. economy. Nor does it have major medical and technology advances that make treatment life-saving but also expensive.

Third, the government doesn't require certain mandates on what FedEx or UPS can or cannot deliver. UPS doesn't have limits on what it can charge or who it can serve or where it can go and when.

Fourth, Obama is not simply offering another option. There are already over 1,500 insurance options for people to choose from regardless of their employment. He is pricing it (8% payroll tax and a 2.5% individual tax) in a way that makes it fairly compelling for small to mid-size employers to switch. It is also clearly a bridge to a national healthcare plan and results in significant new taxes (up to 5.4%, and sure to grow, for the evil millionaire people) to fund it.

This is not an exhaustive list. But the bottom line is that comparing healthcare to delivery services is another example of how Obama is adept at creating false arguments to show a supposed parallel. This type of misdirection is actually condescending if you think about it. He is very good at offering rhetoric. He doesn't offer solid analysis but for people who aren't all that thoughtful and/or don't have the time to really think about what he's saying, you might be charmed.

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