Transcript posted on the Tom Hartmann Program website:
Thom asks Wayne Root why distribute risk with military, police & fire departments but not for health? 25 August 2009
Thom Hartmann: I want to start off the programme today with a discussion of health care, and this on-going debate. Wayne Root is with us. Wayne Allyn Root is an American entrepreneur, television producer, best-selling author, runs a gambling site as well, but most significantly, in 2008, he was the Vice-Presidential nominee for the Libertarian party, and is currently considered a front runner for the 2012 Libertarian Presidential nomination. His website, wayneroot.com and root4america.com. Wayne, welcome to the show.
Wayne Root: Hello, Thom, and don’t forget my new book, “The Conscience of a Libertarian”. It’s out in bookstores all over the country, and it’s got a big chapter on healthcare, a big chapter on the failures of government. I think those two go hand in hand.
Thom Hartmann: Great promotion. Yes, the failures of government. The ways that government competition, now let me get this straight. Does government competition put private enterprise out of business, or is government just completely incompetent?
Wayne Root: Well, it’s both in some ways. Number one, it is completely incompetent. I’ll give you a hundred examples if you want. There’s no time to do a hundred, but how about five? But also, it can put private industry out of business, no matter how good you consider private industry to be.
Thom Hartmann: Ok. The way that public libraries, where you can get a book for free, put out of business our bookstores?
Wayne Root: Say that again?
Thom Hartmann: The way that public libraries have put bookstores out of business?
Wayne Root: I don’t think public libraries have been any problem for private bookstores. No, I don’t…
Thom Hartmann: Ok, so that’s a public option.
Wayne Root: Hey Thom. If you’ll allow the government to take massive losses, and no matter how big it is, you stick the bill to taxpayers, then government could keep health insurance prices artificially low for a few years, until they put all the private industry out of business, and then hike those prices right back up again.
Thom Hartmann: Artificially low. Ok, let’s get right to the essence of this, Wayne. In the Constitution, in the preamble of the Constitution, the Founders talked about both the general welfare, and the common defense, and the Libertarian position, as I recall, is that the primary function of government should be to provide, you know, basically, protection. Police and military.
Wayne Root: Right.
Thom Hartmann: Why would the Federal government provide military?
Wayne Root: Why would the Federal government provide military? Well, I would think because we could be overrun and murdered by our enemies all around the world.
Thom Hartmann: No, no. Because, come on, Wayne. If you got enough money, you can have your own private army.
Wayne Root: Listen, I’m not an anarchist. I’m a person who believes in limited government.
Thom Hartmann: No, I’m very serious. I’m absolutely deadly serious about this thing. The same thing with the police. Why would the government provide police?
Wayne Root: Listen. You and I are debating as if I’m an anarchist, when in reality, I’m a libertarian conservative. I want government, I just want it to be kept…..
Thom Hartmann: I know you want government to provide military and police. I get that. My point is that the reason why government provides military and police is…..
Wayne Root: To protect people’s lives.
Thom Hartmann: No. It’s to distribute the risk over a broad base. The amount of money that it would cost to have a private security firm, let’s say that you wanted to hire Blackwater. And somebody was breaking into your house, and Blackwater comes over to your house, and shows up with two or three of their commandos, and they chase the guy down the street, and they capture him, and they put him in their private prison. That would cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, right? It costs thousands, tens of thousands of dollars, when police actually protect an individual citizen.
If there’s a car wreck out there, cost of all the emergency services, the fire trucks, the police, all that kind of stuff, it could be a million dollars at the end of the day, if two or three people are killed and there’s a real, you know, a huge traffic pile-up. The reason why the government provides police, fire and military is because none of us can afford the individual risk, or very few of us could. Maybe Warren Buffet could, but the rest of us can’t, and so we distribute that risk over a wide number of people. That’s why it’s an appropriate function of government. Now, tell me why we should have health insurance companies operating on a for-profit basis, when the whole purpose of health insurance is to distribute risk that protects our lives the same way the military protects our lives from being murdered, and the police protect our lives from being robbed.
Wayne Root: Well, first of all, Thom, the one thing liberals never want to admit is we just can’t afford it right now. It’s impossible to get another trillion or more into the American budget that is already at a point of unsustainable spending, unsustainable debt, and unsustainable deficit.
Thom Hartmann: You’re not answering my question, Wayne. You’re not even addressing the issue, and the President is saying that this is going to be revenue neutral. And frankly, if we just roll back the Bush tax cuts, or even better, roll back the Reagan tax cuts, you’d have a budget in balance.
Wayne Root: You’d also have socialism. You’d also have tax rates so high no one could afford to stay in business and pay for your health care.
Thom Hartmann: Yeah, things were really terrible during the Eisenhower years, and during the Nixon years, and during the Johnson years…
Wayne Root: Oh I’m so sick of hearing, that’s the liberal lie. For your information, in those days Thom, tax rates were in fact higher, but when you adjust for inflation, there were higher revenues far beyond what a person like me, who’s upper-middle class, and makes two fifty, three hundred thousand dollars a year. Tax rates were high, and people made millions of dollars a year. But now, because there aren’t enough of them, and government spending is so expensive, we have to call “rich” people who make a quarter of a million, a small business that employs six people. That’s not rich, Thom. You can’t tax them like they’re Bernard Madoff.
Thom Hartmann: So you, wait a minute. Wayne, your argument is incoherent. You’re saying on the one hand you’re in favor of progressive taxation, things worked rather well during the Eisenhower, Nixon, Johnson etc administrations, when the top tax rate was ninety-one percent, that that was fine, but now because there’s not as many rich people, which I would challenge, and they don’t have as much money, which I would challenge, because there’s more rich people, and there’s more money among the rich than there has been since 1928, that we can’t do that, and that would be socialism.
But, back to the original point, Wayne. Why is it that you want to distribute risk? Why is the Libertarians want to distribute risk of the cost of protecting us from terrorism and foreign governments, military, and protecting us from robbers and car accidents and drunken drivers, police, and protecting us from fire, fire departments, and not protect us from cancer?
Wayne Root: Well, first of all, you put words in my mouth, completely. You got to take a breathe there, Thom, and let answer back once in a while, cause I didn’t say that I was for progressive taxes on the rich, but not on the upper-middle-class. I’m not for progressive taxes, period. Everyone should pay the same percentage. I’m for a flat tax for everyone in America, cause I think you should be rewarded for your success, not punished every time you become more successful. And if you don’t realize that the average small businessman is creating seventy-five percent of all the new jobs in America, and you’re going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs…
Thom Hartmann: Actually, it’s down below fifty percent now, tragically. Wayne, in the ideal…
Wayne Root: No, no, no, no. All jobs is 50%. New jobs is 75%.
Thom Hartmann: Unfortunately, check your statistics, Wayne.
Wayne Root: I know my stats.
Thom Hartmann: Small businesses in America have been wiped out. Back, twenty, thirty years ago, you walked into a strip mall in America, it was all locally owned businesses. Now, you can’t find one. But that’s not the point. We’re talking about healthcare here.
Wayne Root: What would you blame on that? The blame is Home Depot and Wal-Mart? Is that what you’re blaming?
Thom Hartmann: My blame is the non-enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. But that’s, again, got nothing to do with healthcare.
Wayne Root: No, but it does!
Thom Hartmann: We have a minute left, Wayne. Tell me why we shouldn’t distribute the risk of healthcare the way we distribute the risk of the military and the police. Why not?
Wayne Root: The problem is it fails in everything it does. You don’t want the Post Office…
Thom Hartmann: So you don’t want to have the military and the police any more being run by the Socialist government?
Wayne Root: Listen. I’m not in charge of running police, but I know health insurance is better at running health than the Federal government is.
Thom Hartmann: How do you know that, Wayne?
Wayne Root: The problem is lawyers, Thom, and nobody on the Left wants to mention that, cause the Trial Association has bought and owned Barack Obama.
Thom Hartmann: That’s nothing to do with this. How do you know that the private health insurance does better when we’re thirty-fifth in the world in infant mortality, and twenty-ninth in the world in longevity? All the countries with nationalized healthcare services are beating us.
Wayne Root: They aren’t beating us. That’s a lie. You’ve going by one study by the United Nations that has us ranked thirty-eighth, but in actual healthcare, we’re ranked number one by that same study, Thom. You’re not mentioning that.
Thom Hartmann: No. It’s not in that study, Wayne.
Wayne Root: Number one in performance, number thirty-eight overall, because they don’t think their tax system is progressive enough.
Thom Hartmann: You can read it all at the website wayneroot.com root4america.com and your book, Wayne.
Wayne Root: “The Conscience of a Libertarian”. Thank you, Thom.
Thom Hartmann: Thank you, Wayne.
Transcribed by Gerard Aukstiejus.
Aaron Starr writes,
With the benefit of being a Monday morning quarterback, I’m curious how others here would recommend Wayne answer these questions in the future.
Keep in mind the rules of the radio medium here though. You only have time for a sound bite answer — maybe 15-20 seconds. And it’s got to be entertaining to people not familiar with us, so that you’ll get on a future radio show.
The way your answer reads is very different from how it sounds, so please be sure you read your answer out loud before posting it here.
At another point in the previous thread, Aaron Starr writes,
I hope someone at IPR will create a separate thread for this.
Here’s the scoop. Wayne Root tells me there’s a 50:50 chance that Thom Hartmann will have him back on his show this week.
The question Wayne will be required to address is as follows:
Is Obama really “socializing” America?
You are now part of Wayne Root’s kitchen cabinet.
What would you have him say to convince Hartmann’s audience that what Obama is doing is socialism and that this is bad for our country?
Think of short, punchy responses. Make it informative, convincing, and most of all, entertaining.
Remember, you’re not allowed to deviate from the topic, if you want to be invited back.