The Democrats recently had another debate, their first with their ten front-runners all on the same stage. I had little interest (as usual) in hearing three hours of droning on how we need more government for everything. But, I was hosting a group of friends, and some were curious, so the television was on.

I ventured into the room with the television at one point, and heard Senator Warren make her oft-repeated point (aren’t they all?) about the evils of corporate profit in the health care industry. I recall hearing her raging about $21 billion, which immediately triggered me, because her point is structured to be misleadingly inflammatory.

Just to make sure I heard correctly, I googled the assertion. On a different occasion, she stated:

These insurance companies do not have a God-given right to make $23 billion in profits and suck it out of our health care system.

$23 billion sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it?

It’s meant to. It’s meant to outrage you that greedy corporations are pocketing mountains money rather than spending it on people.

Thing is, it doesn’t stand up to even a moment’s informed scrutiny. The number is not a lie – that would be too blatant. The assertion attached to it, however, is, in implication.

Even without researching, we can break it down. There are 320 million people in America. Divide 23 billion by 320 million and you get $72 per person. Per year.

Does any sane person think that an additional $72 per person per year will create fundamental change in health care?

A moment’s worth of Googling paints an even more absurd picture. Annual insurance premiums paid into health care total $867 billion. That puts the industry’s profit at 2.7%. That the industry manages to provide services with such a slim margin is actually pretty impressive.

Then there’s the alternative. Warren’s outrage is rooted in a nirvana fallacy – that the alternative to $23 billion in profits is government’s non-profit efficiency.


Medicare loses (to waste, fraud, duplication, overpayment, etc) several times that amount, despite being not as large as the private industry. Medicare spending last year totaled $582 billion, and lost, by one estimate, about $60 billion.

Triple “lost opportunity” money in a program only 2/3 as large. Shouldn’t Warren actually do her job as Senator and address this egregious mismanagement of taxpayer dollars? Shouldn’t Warren be challenged as to her implication that government would do a better job providing health care than the private insurers do?

Of course, all of the other Democratic candidates, differing in the desire to further socialize medicine only in degree, would have to admit that they, too, have failed to address that particular elephant in the room: the government’s terrible fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement of taxpayer money.

But that would give them nothing to sell, given the party’s leftward shift. Telling the truth to voters who want false fantasy-fulfilling promises is the quickest way to excommunication from today’s Democratic Party.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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