There is a lot of chatter this morning on the demise of Hostess, the maker of the always well-preserved Twinkie. Predictably, sides are lining up blaming the bakers’ union and private equity investors. But let’s try to strip away the emotion from this issue and look at it rationally.
Americans like to eat. More importantly, they like to eat stuff that tastes good. The market has answered with more choices and better taste. Walk into your local convenience store and today you will see fresh baked goods and other fast foods under warming lights tempting the passerby. Out of the way, around the corner, you will still find packaged snack cakes of a less recent vintage at a price that often exceeds the fresh offerings. Stop by the grocery store and you are likely to see several kinds of fresh baked bread and rolls in addition to the pre-packaged, preservatives laden offerings from the likes of Hostess and Sara Lee.
Grocery stores and convenience stores are not in the business of changing trends. They compete to offer what the customer demands at a price that makes them a profit. If consumers picked the pre-packaged items and panned the fresh stuff, you can bet your last dollar that the grocer would meet that demand with more Hostess snack cakes and less fresh items. And if demand was such that Hostess sold more product, labor costs would not be the issue that they are today.
The world changes. Tastes change. The wealth of a society can be measured by the choices made by its consumers. What passed for tasty a generation ago is no longer the preference of the masses. This is creative destruction. It may be messy and it may be cruel but it is essential if the marketplace is to provide for the wants of the consumer.
Wih the reelection of President Obama, the uncertainty of the future of health insurance is now less so. Had Romney been elected, there would be little difference but that is another conversation. How the system ultimately works and whether or not it succeeds has yet to be seen. What is certain is that free market health care will flourish but, perhaps, in ways that the majority of Americans will neither understand nor have the opportunity to enjoy.
We in America already enjoy the benefits of free market health care. Anyone who has benefitted from cosmetic surgery or lasic eye surgery knows what I mean. These two areas of the health care system generally do not participate in traditional health insurance as it has evolved today. Rather, cosmetic and lasic surgery has evolved in a competitive environment wherein doctors openly display prices and terms. Negotiation is common and cost overruns are rare.
For the more adventurous, the same health care experience exists for all elective surgeries if the patient is willing to travel. India is the current hot destination but others will develop as needs arise. India offers us a glimpse of the future of our own health care system: universal care for those that need it; custom care for those willing to pay. Search the internet for “medical tourism” to see what I mean.
As our system of health care evolves I fully envision a second system developing that competes with the Indian medical tourism model. America is a prosperous nation. Those able to pay will demand it.
The 2012 election season is over! Libertarians saw their best showing ever in several races throughout the country. Some votes, for sure, are attributable to the public’s loss of faith in the Rs and the Ds and the Libertarian choice as NOTA (None of the Above). However, here in Missouri, our requests for information on the party increased dramatically over past years and requests continue to stream in five days after the election. With this in mind, it’s difficult to say that NOTA was the biggest factor in this year’s vote totals. Rather, people are beginning to recognize that libertarian solutions may be the best solutions to what ails the nation.
If you voted for me this past election, thank you. I hope you will look to Libertarians in future elections for real change.