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Acton Notes - President's Message

Those who hoped that socialism would come to America with the election of President Obama are seeing their ambitions fulfilled to a degree. But the massive government takeover of private sectors of the economy has produced a counter-movement that has formed in many sectors of American life. Not all of them have taken a form I like but they have managed to push back against the attempt to centralize the economy and impose a culturally left-wing agenda from the heights of power.

Consider the health-care initiative that was rammed through Congress. The new law forces Americans to buy government approved insurance. Most Americans understand that the wrong kind of legislation in this sector will rob people of the right to choose quality health care, and this takeover will effectively nationalize the sector of health providers in the same way the government has gained control over major insurance providers and car manufacturers. It should be no surprise that the attempt has spawned public protests all over the country.

The controversy has helped fuel a more thoughtful movement to consider the way in which health care can be reformed. Unfortunately the partisan bill ignored attempts to open up markets and competition cross state lines, and many other suggestions that would have helped contain costs and vastly improve quality and access. What American health care needs are more market-based incentives and signals, not fewer. One can hope that when this period ends, we’ll have discovered truly productive ways in which the system can be reformed toward markets and away from the existing socialist structures.

Socialism of all sorts makes every system worse, no matter how overdue reform was in this sector. It is a lesson that religious opinion-makers need to learn and apply in many areas. The Acton Institute has been the font of new and genuinely helpful ideas to make real progress. Thank you for your assistance with this mission.