It has been noted by Adam Smith that capitalism does best when each actor is allowed to pursue his/her own self interest. This is known as the invisible hand thesis. The idea is simple in concept, if not in actuality, when everyone acts in their own best interest the result will be the best will win the completion, which will in turn produce the best possible society and that will benefit all the members of society. Lets put aside that those that are the less than strongest participants in the economy might also be among those that we wish to preserve, this thesis argues for the least amount of regulation possible.
This idea is relevant today in reference to the healthcare debate. It is argued, by some, that if only there was unfettered completion among the insurers that premiums for healthcare would go down and the coverage would go up. As has been noted before, there is difference between the theory and the practice of this idea, but there are only three possible ways of distributing healthcare. First, would be a highly regulated single payer system. Second, would be a system without regulation; third, a system with some regulation. Every modern democracy, save the US, has adopted the first type. Adam Smith would choose the second, and in the US we have had some version of the third. No matter whether we keep the ACA or go with any Republican alternative, it will be a healthcare system with some regulation. So all the fighting will be only over how much regulation we wish to permit.
There is one more thing to throw in the mix; there is a movement to “Buy American, Hire American.” This clearly clashes with the percepts of Adam Smith. This notion would introduce favoritism not based on who is providing the best product or service, but on the basis of who the provider is or where the product comes from. I guess on that basis we all would have to give up pasteurized milk and penicillin. For several decades the big three car makers produced inferior products and marketed them on a “Buy American” basis. That concept eventually not only became untenable; it lead to their near death experience. I might buy my neighbor daughter’s girl scout cookies for less than economic reasons, but I will not lead my life’s economic decisions on that basis. Any thought that “Buy American, hire American” will prove to be a successful political campaign is likely to fall flat when put into practice.