Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 528, July 19, 2009


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Operating Room

System? SYSTEM!!! We Don't Need No Steenking System!!!
by Wayne Grantham

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

In light of the gradual nationalization of medicine, I keep hearing reference to a thus far undefined term, "health care system." Health care system. What might be the definition of such a phrase?

Was the mythical doctor in the tv series Gunsmoke part of America's "health care system?" Was the almost as mythical small town doctor I went to as a kid in Grand Forks? Did either of them consider himself part of America's "health care system?" Nope. Nor did any of the real 19th century doctors represented by Doc Adams in the tv series. The term "Health care system" was never used in America until the federal government started its quest to socialize the "health care system." Today, we hear both branches of the Boot On Your Neck Party routinely refer to our collection of doctors, clinics and hospitals as "America's health care system." They should, but will not, be ashamed!

I can't speak for how it was in the Old West. I'm not quite that old. History tells us that doctors in those years used to heal first, ask questions later. Doctors in 1950's North Dakota were much the same way, except they generally demanded payment in the legal tender—not with chickens or bags of wheat.

I've never heard of anyone being turned away by those doctors.

My dad worked for the Great Northern Railroad most of his career. Railroads being nearly nationalized then as now, were required to add major medical health insurance to its employees' list of perqs. The insurance took care of most medical expenses above a certain threshold—I don't know what that threshold was. Below that threshold, Dad was sent a bill, by the doctor—almost like free enterprise.

I don't think anyone in our family ever had an illness or injury that rose to the level to be covered by the railroad's major medical insurance. I think Dad paid for the hospital stay required when each of us was born. I had a tonsillectomy when I was twelve. That may have been covered. Much later, Dad had a hernia surgery. That was covered.

The bills seemed high, according to the comments I'd keep hearing at bill paying time, but Dad paid them. That was the way it was. If Dad really thought the doctor was charging too much, he was free to shop around.

Back to the point: there was no "health care system." There were many doctors, clinics and hospitals, all around the country whose only links to each other were professional organizations and a small amount of unneeded government regulation.

Can anyone, other than a few escapees of the worst communist dictatorships, imagine such an insane freak of nature as a "shoe supply system?" In which every one of the shoe manufacturing, wholesale, retail, shipping and repair entities are under the control of a single "tsar" whose job it is to determine how many shoes are produced, of what materials and styles, where they're shipped, what the prices should be.

How many shoe repair shops should there be? Where located? What kind of qualifications should shoe repair technicians be required to have? What kind of pricing?

What kind of shoe manufacturing and repair trade schools should there be, and who should be admitted? What kind of reporting should be required, so that the tsar's minions will know if its directives are being followed?

These are exactly the horrors that socialized medicine will bring—to an industry that holds, or will someday hold, most of our lives in its hands. We're already hearing comments from socialists, domestic and foreign, about how much care should be given to an aged, ill individual who will "soon die anyway."

Lastly, I'd be remiss not to refer you to the Dr Hendricks "why he quit" speech in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

America's health care system. It'll be the death of us all!


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