informationliberation
The news you're not supposed to know...




An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
(more)
Article posted Jun 20 2010, 3:05 PM Category: Commentary Source: Mises Economics Blog Print

Remember, It's Not Socialism

by S.M. Oliva

A few days after telling the American Medical Association that he was not a socialist, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz went right back to implementing health care socialism. On Friday, the FTC announced its 36th “consent order” since 2001 against a physician group for the crime of negotiating a contract without FTC consent. The only wrinkle in this case is the physician group is located in Minnesota, where the state legislature recently enacted a law giving the state power to review and approve “jointly negotiated” contracts; the FTC, however, decided that law didn’t apply here -- the second instance this week of the unelected FTC claiming the right to make binding interpretations of laws enacted by elected state legislatures.

I won’t re-travel old ground here on the physician issue. But two things to keep in mind. First, if physician price-fixing is indeed as rampant as the FTC has claimed over the past decade, then the antitrust system has not done its job. There is no other industry I am aware of where there were 36 cases of price-fixing -- 38 counting two Justice Department civil cases -- without any criminal prosecution. The FTC has said time and again doctors who jointly negotiate contracts -- or refuse to accept federal or state price controls -- are guilty of price-fixing. Price-fixing is a felony.

The DOJ generally prosecutes price-fixing as a criminal matter. Why are the doctors getting a break? By my count, over 19,000 individual physicians were members of the 38 groups charged with civil antitrust violations. If the FTC and DOJ really believe their own antitrust rhetoric, then they have a legal obligation to indict, prosecute, and imprison physicians who fix prices. The DOJ prosecutes small businessmen and individual employees all the time, so that can’t be the reason physicians are held to a different antitrust standard.

The real reason, of course, is that imprisoning physicians would set off a political firestorm that would focus public and political attention on the DOJ, and by extension the FTC. News footage of FBI agents “raiding” physician offices -- remember, antitrust “raids” are common in Europe -- with trusted family doctors led away in handcuffs while a federal prosecutor tells the public how multi-billion dollar insurance companies are “victims” of a price-fixing conspiracy wouldn’t sit well with most people. It would look like the government is using the threat of prosecution to coerce economic outcomes. Which of course is what’s going on now.

The second thing to keep in mind is that while you might cheer the FTC and DOJ’s tough stance against doctors -- thinking it might somehow magically lower your own medical costs -- the agencies may turn against you next. As Chairman Leibowitz told the AMA, he’s a strong supporter of the Obamacare bill -- which includes that pesky health insurance mandate. Some would call that a grant of monopoly privilege, forcing customers to buy your product. Jon Leibowitz calls it market competition. And once the mandate takes effect, suppose a group of activists publicly gather and say they won’t comply and refuse to buy health insurance.

Well, gee, the FTC might just call that price-fixing. After all, if doctors refuse to sign a contract with state-backed insurers, that’s illegal; so why would it be legal for people to collectively refuse to purchase a mandatory service? Certainly if there were any organized groups that advocated defiance of the mandate, it would be acceptable for the FTC to investigate, prosecute, and compel such groups to never oppose the government’s healthcare mandates again. Because that’s the rule already applied to doctors.





Latest Commentary
- Perpetual Lies About Freedom and Democracy
- Who Trusts This Government to Regulate the Internet?
- Too Dumb for Democracy?
- Political Relativity and the Infinite Cynicism of Prohibitionists
- One-Dimensional Thinking on Drug Legalization
- Social Pressure Triumphs Again
- Worship the Veterans Day
- The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart









No Comments Posted Add Comment


Add Comment
Name
Comment

* No HTML


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below
 


PLEASE NOTE
Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy



Advanced Search
Username:

Password:

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Register

This is What a High School Football Game Looks Like In a Police State - 11/21No Charges For Cop Filmed Breaking Man's Face For Failure To ID, "Shoulder Thrust" Made Cop Fear For His Safety - 11/21Very Large Cop Waylays High School Girl, Chaos Ensues After Students Become Angry at the Deputy - 11/21Man Imprisoned For Decades On False Child Molestation Charge Freed After Claim Recanted - 11/21Washington Cop Attempts to Incite Photographer by Invading Personal Space - 11/21Casino Can Steal NJ Man's Home Through Eminent Domain For No Specific Reason, Judge Rules - 11/20Texas Cop Indicted For Stealing Cash Out Of People's Wallets After Asking For ID - 11/20Deputy Tries Using Civil Asset Forfeiture On DVD From Convenience Store, Loses Job - 11/20

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat
(more)

 
Top