Saturday, November 7, 2009
The One Minute Case Against Socialized Healthcare
from "One-Minute Case," at RationalMind.org
There is no right to healthcare
The United States was founded with the declaration that all men have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Founders recognized that all men have a moral right to be free from the coercion of others, as long as they allow others the same freedom. They believed that rights do not impose a positive obligation on others, but only the negative obligation to restrain from the initiation of force.
The claim that there is a “right to healthcare” violates the principle of individual rights because it requires that the liberty of doctors and the property of taxpayers be violated to provide for others. When the New Deal and Great Society programs forced doctors and taxpayers to become sacrificial offerings to the “common good”, the current “healthcare crisis” was born.
The myth of “free” healthcare
It is a common belief that when government provides something, it is free or cheap. But politicians cannot create wealth – they can only redistribute it. Money for all government spending comes from business – whether by entrepreneurial investment, the wages of patients, or taxes.
Whether by price controls of outright nationalization, when governments make prices artificially low, demand skyrockets, and shortages result. Politicians respond by passing ever more regulations to control costs. These regulations stifle innovation, drive up costs, and force healthcare providers out of business. The end result is to replace capitalism, the greatest wealth-generating system known to man, with an onerous system of central planning.
Capitalism cannot guarantee that all our medical needs will be provided for – no system can do that. But it does give entrepreneurs the incentive to compete to provide the best possible service they can. Centralized socialized systems have no incentive to improve service or to try bold new techniques. Politicians can force prices to be artificially low, but they cannot lower costs – they can only drive doctors, hospitals, and drug companies out of business.
The victims of “universal” healthcare
The waiting time for treatment in Canada varies from 14 to 30 weeks. Waiting lists for diagnostic procedures range from two to 24 weeks. Some patients die while waiting for treatment. To stop sick people fromcircumventing the “free” system, the government of British Columbia enacted Bill 82 in 2003, which makes it illegal to pay for private surgery. Patients waiting for critical procedures are now forced to seek procedures in the U.S. and doctors are abandoning Canada in droves. Cleveland, Ohio is now Canada’s hip-replacement center. Ontario is turning nurses into doctors to replace some of the 10,000 doctors who left Canada in the 1990’s. 1 2
What will patients do when it is illegal to seek private medical treatment in the U.S.? Politicians are already working towards that goal. State and federal regulation impose onerous regulations which forbid insurance companies from offering services such as basic coverage for emergencies by requiring coverage of many types of procedures. Medicare forces doctors to follow 130,000 pages of regulations. Critics often attack the “capitalist” nature of American health care system. The reality is that the government now pays for 50% of health care, and closely regulates the rest.
Healthcare is only affordable under capitalism
If a society is not wealthy enough to afford healthcare, health socialism will not make it richer. Cuba, a poster child of socialist healthcare schemes, spends $229 on healthcare per person each year, while the U.S. spends $ 6,096.3 Premium services are available only to paying foreigners, while natives must bribe doctors for timely treatment and bring their own towels, bed sheets, soap, food, and even sutures.4
A government can decide to replace individual choice with state-mandated decisions of what goods and services are more important for the “common good.” But it can only spend on one area at the expense of another. If Cubans are not totally deprived of medical treatment, it can only be at the expense of all other goods. A doctor’s salary in Cuba is 1.5 times the median at $15-20 per month. 5 A telling sign of their deprivation is the Cuban suicide rate, which is the highest in Latin America and among the highest in world. Cubans in Miami on the other hand, kill themselves less often than other Miamians.6 When they risk their lives in leaky boats to escape to the U.S., the right to make their own decisions regarding their health is among the freedoms they hope to gain.
- “Free Health Care in Canada” by Walter Williams
- “Do We Want Socialized Medicine?” by Walter Williams
- Reuters: Health care in Cuba more complicated than on SiCKO
- BBC: Keeping Cuba Healthy by John Harris
- “An Evaluation of Four Decades of Cuban Healthcare” by Felipe Eduardo Sixto (PDF)
- Miami Herald: “Study: Suicide epidemic exists under Castro” by Juan O. Tamayo
- Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” by Lin Zinser and Dr. Paul Hsieh
- Health Care Is Not a Right by Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D.
- Health Care Is a Business—or Should Be by Richard E. Ralston
- Video: Unisured in America (Free Market Cure Documentary Series)
- Americans for Free Choice in Medicine
- American Health Care: Essential Principles and Common Fallacies
- FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine
- The “Cost” of Medical Care by Thomas Sowell
- Michael Moore’s Shticko by Michael C. Moynihan
- NY Times: “As Canada’s Slow-Motion Public Health System Falters, Private Medical Care Is Surging“
- Do fat people deserve medical treatment?
- The One Minute Case for Individual Rights
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Oakland Council Now Supports BART Extension Plan
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I will be giving a talk with that title at California State University, East Bay, on October 14. Thanks to Professor Stephen Schmanske and the Smith Center for inviting me.
My theme will be the relationship between art and liberal cultures, focusing on economically free cultures especially.
One part of my talk will discuss how economic liberalism is empowering for artists both materially and psychologically, and part of my evidence for that will be historical: Why were the greatest of the great eras in art history classical Athens, Renaissance Florence and Venice, the Dutch Golden Age, Paris in the late nineteenth century. Why not, say, Sparta in the 5th century BCE? Or Milan in the 15th century? Or Denmark in the 17th? Or Portugal in the 19th?
Another part of my talk will take up the perplexing question of why, since the late 19th century, so many artists have taken anti-business and anti-capitalist stances. Pablo Picasso is representative here, having said, famously, “The merchant — there’s the enemy.” A fascinating set of adversarial (and self-destructive) issues there.
The lecture is based on my current book project, The Fate of Art under Capitalism, which I discussed in an earlier post.
Sound interesting? It does to me! --mac
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Image via WikipediaFormer VP Dick Cheney's work on his upcoming book, in which he will apparently defend his record, is producing a spate of articles on his views. One observation is that he is still strongly convinced a rogue nation will hand nuclear weapons over to a terrorist group, who will then attack the US.
To a Libertarian, this prospect leads strongly in an entirely different direction than Cheney thinks it must. To Cheney, all solutions involve the US continuing its intense involvement in attempting to direct the affairs of every other nation on earth.
To a Libertarian, the risk of terrorism suggests a different question: Why are foreign terrorists interested in attacking the U.S. in particular?
To answer this, let's turn to a terrorist problem that is not ours, and ask why it isn't. Chechnyan terrorists regularly attack targets in Russia. They have not attacked any U.S. targets, and nobody seems to expect them to. Why not?
They attack Russian targets because they have a beef with Russia. The Russian government holds power in Chechnya, controls its government, and fights with Chechnyan separatists. So the separatists attack those who interfere with what they consider their national rights: the Russians.
They don't attack the U.S. because we are not involved in Chechnyan affairs. More specifically, the U.S. does not involve itself in Russia's affairs: We don't support Russia in this conflict, we don't sell Russia weapons to use against Chechnyan opponents, we don't give speeches about it, we don't consider it our affair. And it isn't. And so we are not at risk from either side in that conflict.
The same goes for Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka. And, for that matter, Basque bombers in Spain. We aren't involved in these conflicts.
But we involve ourselves in every other conflict on Earth, and in some of those conflicts, one party or another sees the U.S. as making their conflict harder because we support the other side.
Muslim terrorists don't denounce us and bomb us and fly jets into our buildings because we are Westerners. Not really. They talk like that sometimes, but if we weren't involved in the affairs of Muslim countries, they wouldn't bother forming an anti-Western-Culture theory to bolster themselves for the long fight against a superior foe. They'd just ignore us.
But we had to overthrow the government of Iraq; we had to take care of Saudi Arabia's problem by defending their neighbor Kuwait; we are now encouraging, apparently, Israel to bomb Iran's nuclear bomb facilities; we have troops in Afghanistan supporting a government we installed, and are bullying the neighboring governments too. And in country after country, year after year, we support oppressive governments, take sides in internal and external conflicts, and come up with elaborate excuses as to why we can't benignly watch the world do what it will, but must intervene, to produce, with force if necessary, the outcome we speculate would be good for us in the long run.
Central to much of this is Israel, whose continued existence we warrant, arm, and fund. Every country, every regime, and every opposition group that does or might someday threaten Israel we must involve ourselves against.
This leads to some perverse behavior sometimes. We can't just arm Israel, and threaten to intervene on her behalf should she be attacked -- in fact, the one thing we don't do is intervene militarily when Israel is attacked, for some reason. No, we have to try to control the complex internal politics of every regime around them -- and every other group in the world that is interested. So when Saddam invaded Kuwait, we couldn't just let Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran, and possibly Syria figure it out -- they were all as unhappy with Saddam and his ambitions as we were, and they are right there on the spot. No -- we had to be the ones to intervene militarily, because otherwise the balance of power among Iraq and Iran and Syria and Israel might go out of control, and who knows where that would lead? We had to balance Iraq and Iran -- Iran, which had almost collapsed under the years-long assault of Iraq, and whom we helped prop up; but now Iran was growing too powerful, and a success against Iraq would give the mullahs too much power. To a Libertarian, this mess would have given the powers there a rare opportunity to decide whether they had more to fear from Saddam or from Israel. It might have led to a new alignment of powers. Imagine that. One in which the U.S. would play only a minor role. Imagine that.
No, we had to expend our blood and treasure to defend Kuwait -- and incidentally Saudi Arabia, source of the 9/11 assassins, and Iran, our current source of woes. And they all let us, because then they could avoid the blood and expense, and the political fallout, and still badmouth the US!
Every nation with problems, we have to get involved. North Korea is nuts; we have to step in and tell them that their policies to create nuclear weapons for themselves are "not acceptable." Even though we have, really, no clue what to do about it if the ignore us, as they always do.
For a while there it looked like we were going to use sense: We insisted that China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia take care of the problem in their own back yard. We refused to be drawn into the talks. North Korea, knowing a fish when they see one, very much want the US to be the sole opponent. They know they can always take us for a ride. (The irony of Bill Clinton's trip to shake hands with His Shortness to get the two reporters released is that Bill traded a handshake and photo op bit of propaganda for two human beings -- Bill gave North Korea less and got more from them than the U.S. ever has -- it was the most successful negotiation we've ever had with North Korea! (Usually, we give them oil and money and goods, and get a promise which North Korea never keeps.)
But lately, even with a Democrat liberal in the White House (what a surprise! The peace-loving Democrats in power continue the warmongering policies of the evil Republican predecessors!), the US is talking tough with North Korea. Again, we say have the Cheney worry: North Korea will give its nukes to terrorists who can bomb either Israel (our 51st state in practice tho not in law) or the US mainland.
Well, they might, though nothing we've been doing about it will help Israel, and our continuing involvement in every conflict on Earth makes us a target for the terrorist attack that must sooner or later succeed, because time is on their side, not ours.
And of course we're worried about NKorean missiles reaching Hawaii. Why on earth would Kim send a bomb to Hawaii? If the US decided that NKorea was a problem for the countries around it (and for Israel, the other target), then we wouldn't have to worry about Hawaii in this regard. And maybe -- just maybe -- the other nations of the world would eventually be forced to act like grownups and figure out solutions for their problems. After all, in many cases they are right there in the line of fire even more so than we are. Frankly, I don't believe the nations around Israel really, in their heart of hearts, want to see a terrorist group plant a nuke in Jerusalem. The likely reaction of Israel to the threat, or worse the reality, of such an attack would make me very nervous, even if I were the fruitcake President of Iran.
The US is a target for so very many negative forces of the world because the US involves itself in so many areas of the world. Just as there seems to be no aspect of American life that the government doesn't think it should have an opinion about, pass a law to control, and stick its bureaucratic noses into -- by the same token, there is no country on earth and no disagreement among the peoples of the earth that our wise politicians in Washington think is none of our business.
Switzerland isn't target of anybody's ire. There's a reason. Countries that meddle make themselves targets. We are the biggest target out there -- because we are the supreme meddlers in all the world. Just ask yourself: Why are we the ones at the center of everything? Why do other countries stay away, dummy up, waffle when we're in there Solving the World's Problems? How come they aren't worried about what's likely to happen?
All the security and waterboarding and spies and constrained freedom in the world won't protect us from our own inability to mind our own damned business.
The real root cause? Our political class is composed of meddlers. They get elected, and reelected, by sticking their noses in. They don't get vote by saying, "You know, we should just stay out of that one; yes, I know, awful things might happen; but we aren't the ones best suited to tackle the problem -- we'll just make it worse!" I know, because Libertarian candidates say that all the time, and none of you ever vote for them! Because you, like the pols, can't leave well enough alone!
There are tradeoffs in every involvement. We brush that aside. We shouldn't.