Originally in American Thinker, April 19, 2011
By Chuck Rogér
“These are not the droids you’re looking for”
With those words and a barely perceptible rippling of the fingers, in Star Wars: A New Hope, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi convinces two Empire Stormtroopers to overlook the obvious. R2-D2 and C-3PO, the androids in question, sit in a vehicle before the Stormtroopers’ eyes. Seconds later, Luke Skywalker expresses amazement at pulling off such a stunt.
Obi-Wan replies, “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.”
Which brings us to Dr. Donald Berwick, Obama’s recess-appointed and never-confirmed head Medicare and Medicaid. The doctor transparently sees the American people as weak-minded. Berwick sees himself as a member of an exclusive club of “leaders” who must show the people how to navigate the “massive and complex” health care system.
But singing a different tune in a recent press conference, Berwick said,
Computers today do more than they ever have at far lower prices. The same is true for cars, and TVs and telephones – just about every other product or service that we really care about. And they didn’t get there by cutting or by rationing. They got there by improving the processes that make their products and services.
Berwick implicitly invoked the power of the free market to improve American health care while dismissing the need for rationing. But the doctor is no Jedi Master of The Force. The Harvard elitist is on record as contradicting his faux-embrace of free-market principle.
In 2008, Berwick urged a British National Health Service audience to put no “faith in market forces.” Instead, “leaders with plans” must specify the people’s health care products and services. Berwick said that there is “little evidence” for the argument that patient choice and industry competition create a “healthcare system you want and need.”
Obi-Wan Berwick’s recent press conference performance was his second attempt in only two months to use The Force to dupe the American people. In February, testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, Berwick made statement after statement in direct conflict with his previously-documented positions. In testimony, the man claimed to “abhor rationing,” denied a previously-declared “love” for the rationing-obsessed British health care system, proclaimed “a place in our health care system” for free-market competition, and called competition “the American way to excellence.”
Berwick’s sudden conversion to a non-rationing mentality must not be trusted for a microsecond. The doctor once advocated “a cap on total spending, with strictly limited year-on-year growth targets.” There’s no way around the fact that the statement blesses government-enforced rationing. In fact, in a June 2009 interview, Berwick flat-out asserted, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care-the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”
I noted two weeks ago that Berwick’s “cavalier dishonesty illustrates the deep-seated contempt that [he] has for truth.” But Berwick is also afraid. The man is unwilling to try to defend his ridiculous earlier positions. Yet Dr. Donald Berwick almost surely still “loves” British-style rationing and detests the free market. But the doctor is counting on his powers of “influence” being so strong that “weak-minded” Americans don’t notice his duplicitous behavior.