This Capitalist Icon Loves Obamacare — Here's Why


Odds are, you know of John Green. His latest novel, The Fault In Our Stars, currently tops the New York Times Bestseller List for young adult fiction. He's a host of mental_floss on YouTube, the host of the Crash Course humanities series, and a semi-professional FIFA player. He's also one half of the Vlogbrothers, one of the most popular and long-standing channels on YouTube, and the nexus of the community known as Nerdfighters.  

With thousands of videos under his belt, he's covered a lot of topics, and one that particularly fascinates him is the American health care system. In his most recent video, he laid out one of the best defenses of both capitalism and the need for health care reform that I've seen made. He begins by laying out, in clear and engaging terms, why capitalism works. But he makes the key point that capitalism only does its job in an environment where people are safe to innovate, which is where health care comes in. The problem is that our current health care system doesn't encourage entrepreneurship. And in the end, when the government provides the health care that creates a safe environment in which capitalism can thrive, we all benefit.

The capitalist case for health care reform centers on the idea that it is the job of free markets to create innovative new things and drive prices down through competition.  And it is the job of our health care system to facilitate that and allow the markets to create, as Green puts it, "free pizza." But it's terrible at doing that, because instead of investing their time and effort and resources into activities that create awesome new things and grow the economy, people are driven to choose the options that offer them health insurance, like joining a big company or remaining a full-time student, and invest their time and effort and resources into the "I don't want to go bankrupt if I fall off a ladder" fund. What government-provided health care does is empower the entrepreneurs and innovators who drive the growth of our economy to actually do so, instead of having to worry about finding health insurance.

There are lessons to learn here for all of us. For the conservatives among us, the video lays out how our current health care system is dragging down our economy, and stifling the very things that conservatives are trying to promote. For the liberals, including myself, it shows us that fiscal conservatives have very relevant points on how the economy works, and do care about making life better for everyone.  When we listen to each other, think about the real-world consequences of what we do, and make our decisions based on what is actually going to work, we can come up with solutions. John's traditional advice rings true: Don't forget to be awesome.