THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 529, July 26, 2009
"Agorism proposes not to confront tyranny
in the streets, but to use counter-economics
to withdraw support from tyranny."
The Shape of Things to Come with Health Care "Reform"
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
The public debate on the health care "reform" bill being considered in Congress seems to focus largely on the bogus concept of the "common good." (I will dispense with the quotation marks after this, but we know the bill's intent is to radically change the health care system, not reform it. And, since it is impossible to get 100% agreement on any policy, having some members of government agree upon and enforce a policy on the basis that it serves the common good will disadvantage large numbers of people, whether by the policy effects or by being forced to pay for the policy itself.)
Proponents of the change point to statistics of uninsured Americans and claim that they are unable to get health care. When that is examined more closely, many members of that statistical group are young, healthy people who prefer to spend their disposable income on other things. Others are out of work, and cannot afford, or do not need, COBRA coverage. Many are immigrants who need to stay under the radar to avoid deportation. My personal case is that, as a salesman, my work history is varied. That's a euphemism for being out of work now and then, as I am now due to a reduction in force at my previous employer last April. So long ago, my wife and I decided to carry the insurance at her employer. But I would bet that the health care statisticians will count me as not having insurance. How many others in that number are in similar situations? Who knows?
Proponents also use the standard (null) words such as fairness, and invoke the nice-sounding concept of compassion. But they don't seem to believe that what they are proposing is not fair to those who like their current health care situation, and their compassion does not seem to extend to those taxpayers who will be forced to pay for this system.
The bill's supporters cherry-pick examples of positive outcomes from Western European government health care systems, and those that oppose this makeover cherry-pick the negative ones. The example I would like to put forward is from the military medical system, which is already a mandatory, single-payer system run by the U.S. government. A USAF airman was undergoing what should have been routine surgery to remove his gall bladder. The USAF surgeon cut his aortic artery, but waited hours to transfer him to a state hospital where he could get vascular repair. As a result of the massive and prolonged blood loss, they had to amputate his legs. And an old law prevents members of the military or their dependents from suing for malpractice. Does anyone think that provision will not be a part of the new system?
(I found that out in the mid-1970s, when I was in the Army at Fort Knox. My wife had a bad earache, but the med tech she saw on her first visit told her she had lost inner ear pressure, so just hold her nose and blow until it popped. After a few days of increasing pain, she returned and demanded to see an actual doctor, who immediately diagnosed it correctly as a bad ear infection, which had, by this time, spread to her jaw where a tooth now had a serious abscess. That was extracted, but the Army dentist hadn't gotten the entire tooth, and after a few days of socket bleeding, she returned to the dentist, who probed and found a piece of the tooth root still there, and proceeded to pull it without anesthetic. Sounds like fun, eh?)
But, regardless of the anecdotes for any particular single-payer system is the question of the morality of the whole thing, which is seldom a topic for debate in the MSM. Most of the regular readers of TLE will agree that the morality of forcing people to pay for something they don't want, and that will almost certainly (miracles happen, but don't count on one) result in medical results far worse than our current, admittedly flawed, system is just plain wrong. If Congress really wanted to reform the health care system, they should separate health insurance from employers and let the market handle it like auto or homeowners insurance. There would be more choices for individuals to make in order to buy the plan that each person thought served his or her best interests. Just like one of the insurance companies whose television spots tout their offering customers the ability to build their own auto insurance policy to meet that person's desired price, a freer market would increase choice and decrease the price of health insurance. Ya gotta love competition!
The current system, in which employers provide health insurance as a benefit, but have coverage mandated by government decrees, is like forcing every employee to buy a certain model of car, regardless of whether that suits their needs or budget. And that car is more expensive model, with lots of options that only a few people prefer or need. But those options were added by some level of government when a sympathetic victim's bad outcome was used to pass a law requiring coverage of that contingency. Hard cases make bad law. This is why some states mandate coverage of, for example, certain psychiatric syndromes, despite their relative rarity and the debate about whether these are actual illnesses.
The current bill in Congress, from what little has been allowed to leak, seems to mandate that everyone, employed or not, will be forced to buy the same car, and it is likely to be the analog of a Yugo. Remember, these are the same people who brought us the Postal Service, FEMA, and the PATRIOT Act. Not to mention Medicare and the military and VA hospitals. With such a record of fraud, abuse, and general lack of competence in both efficacy and efficiency, how can those who want to nationalize the health care system believe that the outcome of that massive new bureaucracy would be an improvement over the current system? As I have already stipulated, that current system has flaws, but those are overwhelmingly because of government, so more government is surely not the answer. As H.L. Mencken said, "Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."