Here’s how the shell game con (also known as “Three Card Monte”) works. The con artist puts up a table. On the table are three shells and a dried pea. A mark will bet that he can find the pea. Confederates of the con artist, shills, may pretend to play to convince prospective marks to lose their money. It appears to be a game of skill.
It’s not a game of skill. For the con to work the pea must be removed from the table. It’s a con, not a game of skill.
Here are the critical components of the con:
- The con artist
- The pea
- The mark
- The “bet”
- Removing the pea from the table by palming it or some other misdirection
The editorial writers at the New York Times identify a legitimate problem, rising healthcare premiums and healthcare costs (the pea):
Too many people are being hit with relentlessly rising premiums or are at serious risk of losing their coverage to allow the status quo to continue.
A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that, once again, health insurance premiums rose faster last year than either wages or general inflation.
which they (the shills) use to argue for reform in the abstract. I’m in favor of reform, too. However, the reforms proposed by Congress (the cons) have nothing in them to reduce healthcare costs or healthcare premium costs. They will be paid for using some combination of means including fees, excise taxes, and, have no doubt, the general fund (the “bet”). Indeed, every plan on the table actually increases total costs and per capita costs. In theory they could reduce the costs per insured but, since the plans do nothing to increase the supply of healthcare, the costs per insured may rise, too.
They’ve taken the pea, rising healthcare costs and rising premium costs, off the table. It’s a con.
There’s only one way for taxpayers (the marks) to avoid being cheated: put our money in our pockets and walk away. I’m all in favor of extending coverage to more people but the healthcare reform we need must reduce costs. Unless you leave the pea on the table it’s just a con.