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Saturday, August 11th 2007

Why I'm Only Half A Hypocrite

I’m living off educational loans. The federal government backs these loans thus making me a better investment for the loan company and lowering my rate on them. As well, for a small portion of my loans, the government is actually subsidizing the interest I’m accumulating…they’re actually paying off the interest that is accumulating on those loans while I’m in school.

It’s a sweet gig. It’s also troublesome in some respects. It sits like a big flashing red light atop my wild haired libertarian rants. Every time I bad mouth government public assistance – largely in the form of denouncing government’s responsibility to guarantee health care – there are my federally subsidized loans sitting in the corner in a box labeled hypocrisy.

There’s some truth to that which I’ve admitted but comparing the subsidization of education loans to ‘welfare’ programs is hardly equivocal.

The chief point is this: subsidizing loans for medical school is an investment. The government is going to get back those education loans they subsidize for medical students…and many times over.

I’ll earn considerably more as a physician than with merely my bachelor’s degree in hand. And those earnings will generate tax revenue. New tax revenue.

Health care spending isn’t a fixed pie. It isn’t like if I wasn’t a physician that all my income would merely go to other providers. The fact is we have a shortage of health care providers in this country. And, perhaps sadly, health care supply creates it’s own demand. The more health care resources available, the more they’re used and the saturation point appears to be pretty well away in most areas. The point is, a large portion of my earning as a physician will be new…not merely income that would’ve gone to other providers if I wasn’t a physician.

I can’t imagine that those tax revenues don’t easily, easily surpass any interest payments or loan defaults the government picks up for medical students. There’s risk, as in any investment. Some students will default, some will drop out of school, some will leave the country, etc. But on the whole it’s likely a remarkably safe investment.

This can’t be said for government subsidized health care. Yes, it generates some increased productivity by providing for healthy working hours, but considering the great majority of health care expenses are made on behalf of the elderly and the chronically ill who are not going to be revenue generators no matter the money thrown at their health…well the point is clear.

As an investment is not why anyone supports subsidized health care. Arguing the pros and cons of government funded health care isn’t the point of this post. All I’m trying to do in this article is “justify” some of the more startling un-libertarian aspects of my life.

There’s a little bit of hypocrisy left of course. I don’t think it’s the government’s place to be perpetuating it’s revenue with this kind’ve investment. But, education loans for medical school are hardly in the same handout category as government guaranteed health care. Because of that, I’m comfortable cashing my loan check while still denying that government should redistribute wealth in the form of guarantying health care for all.