Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Undisclosed Danger of Government Health Care

Government health care is not concerned with patients. Politicians' interest is primarily focused on the productive---in the U.S., about one-third the population. Government has no income other than what it confiscates from the productive. So, promises of "affordable health care" depend on the able while devouring life from them. In other words, parasitism.

Some people seem oblivious to this. A man wrote on Twitter, "I'm a socialist and proud of it." Whatever he may feel about being a socialist, pride is not a virtue possible to a looter and a parasite. Blood lust is.

State planning demands obedience. For example, Organizing for America held a meeting in Belen, New Mexico on government health care. OFA would not allow any expression of opposition. They told dissenters to "Sit down!"-meaning: "and shut up!" They became angry when questioned. They spoke to one of the dissenters using coarse language. They put obscene notes in other dissenters' vehicles and ignored those who complained about such conduct.

Such creatures abound in government health care. It is common knowledge, for instance, that those in state-run sanitariums, asylums, and senior care centers are sickeningly abused. Little is done about it. The government is in charge.

Interfering with impunity in other people's lives and property is characteristic of those who advocate government health care. Some time ago, Wal-Mart announced its support of socialized medicine. It wrote, "[T]he best way to lower costs is by managing the supply chain [meaning the medical professions] and encouraging efficiencies of scale [meaning medical rationing]."

"Managing" those who aren't employed by you is a euphemism for violating others' individual rights. Those who took over Sam Walton's extraordinary achievement are helping to destroy what made it possible. They are evading the importance of individual rights, which protects private property and promotes innovative thinking.

They're not the only ones evading facts. The AARP declares "need is a right," while seeking to deny rights to those they plan to force to fill those needs. But need is not a right. No one has a right to other peoples' work and effort wrested from them by force-legalized or not. Yet the AARP says force is a proper means of dealing with individuals. They say might makes right.

So does Mr. Obama. He declared that he will set doctors' fees based not on how many patients the doctor treats, not on his specialty, not on how many hours he works, but on the patient's improvement. Mr. Obama evidently does not grasp that medical problems characteristically are replete with numerous variables and that results of medical treatment are not as predictable as sunrises. Should we trust such stupefying ignorance?

Mr. Obama has no understanding of the free market. In a free-market, the patient judges a doctor's performance, not a politician. If the patient is dissatisfied with the doctor's performance, he can sue for malpractice. He can seek out another doctor. He can persuade others to boycott the doctor and drive him out of business. He can write to newspapers describing the doctor's performance. He can complain to whatever associations the doctor is a member of.

Government health care offers no alternatives. The state dictates. The doctor must obey. And so must the patient. Like the doctor, the patient under government health care is frozen into a system that is riddled with irrational requirements dreamed up by politicians and their lackeys. The dream revolves around control of the able.

Whether doctor, businessman, blue or white-collar worker, it is the able that make life worth living. It is the able that stand with the facts of reality against fallacies and falsehoods. It is the able that earn the money that pay politicians salaries. It is the able that politicians seek to control.

Government officials seek to force their edicts between doctor and patient, declaring that their force is superior to your choice. They seek to insert ignorance and suspicion between knowledge and trust, declaring that their say-so is superior to a physician's knowledge and judgment honed by medical experience, and to a patient's evaluation and decision.

But the mind cannot be ruled by force. Those that can, are incapable of creating anything. They can only destroy. Such minds are those of thugs and goons, the lowest ranks of society.

Thought does not function efficaciously under threats. Minds that are able, shut down under force or the threat of force. In medicine, force discourages interest in a medical career. The number of doctors declines; the quality of medicine follows suit. Research and development becomes sluggish, eventually ceasing altogether. This is the undisclosed danger of government health care.

Destroying another's rights does not guarantee health care. A right yoked to a bureaucrat's whim is not a right. "A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context." (Ayn Rand, "Man's Rights.") To destroy one man's rights is to destroy all men's rights. To destroy the rights of doctors and patients is to turn a nation into warring camps and those needing medical attention into numbers on a waiting list.

Either doctors are free to work unfettered by government edict or they are not. Either we are free to choose our doctor or we are not. Either each of us is free to earn our own way, keep what we earn and decide how to dispose of it, or we relinquish that freedom to government officials---which means, we relinquish our individual rights of life, property, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Capitalism vs the Welfare State: The Next Vote

Let's sort out some things.

As a political and economic system, socialism is government ownership and management of the means of production and distribution of goods, the control of money, and the abolition of profit and private property. These ideas also describe communism and progressivism.

Socialism originated at the end of the 18th century in several "social studies." The studies evaded the Enlightenment's giant strides in providing jobs and raising the standard of living of hundreds of thousands who had been far worse off before the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

In the 1840s, the term communism was coined to describe a militant form of socialism. Marx and Engels used the word in the title of their work, The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848. Later both Marx and Engels referred to themselves as socialists, and Marx's work remains the basis of socialist thought.

In 1878, a schism split communists from socialists. The socialists advocated "gradualism," the idea that capitalist society could be changed by reform from within. The communists advocated the violent overthrow of government. It was only a matter of methodology. They remained glued together by their fundamental ideas.

Progressivism started sometime after the Civil War as an attempt to help poor people through self-help programs operated by private charities. Progressives usurped the effort. They, too, evaded the advances achieved by the Industrial Revolution.

As early as the 1890s, progressives elected politicians who promised to take over utilities, improve city services and tenement housing codes. Other states joined in. By 1903 a wide range of progressive political and economic ideas were adopted to regulate railroads and utilities. They pressured government to raise corporate taxes. They advocated workmen's compensation---paid for by businesses---and child labor laws, which denied income to the very poor.

In 1906 progressives passed the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. In 1913 progressives established the Federal Reserve. In 1914, they established the Federal Trade Commission and the Anti-Trust Act, extending government regulation of business. In 1916, they again raised corporate taxes, organized a railroad commission to set rates and established a conservation commission.

World War I interrupted the progressive's juggernaut lumbering toward total government control of the economy. However, it was resumed with the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, although now referred to as the welfare state. Another name, the same ideas.

The sameness of these doctrines, which many people believe represent different points of view, arises from a single source.

There are only two ways to regard man's relationship to society: either he has the right to live for his own sake, or he must live for others. Whichever principle you espouse places you in one or the other of opposing camps.

If you accept the principle that man has the right to live for his own sake, you are an individualist. If you believe that man must live for others, you are a collectivist.

If man has the right to live for his own sake, then that right must be protected and so, the initiation of physical force must be outlawed. In such a society no one's rights may be violated with impunity; so, government has only one job: to protect individual rights domestically by means of the courts and the police, and by means of the military in matters of foreign aggression. Individualism limits government.

In a society in which rights are protected and from which the initiation of physical force is banned, men are free to trade value for value as they choose, working at what they choose, disposing of their earnings and property as they see fit, enjoying their life as they like. This is capitalism, the economic system in which all property is privately owned.

Our constitution explicitly states the individual's right to life, property, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Enumerated, too, are freedoms that follow from individual rights---such as, for example, the freedom to peaceably assemble, the freedom to petition the government to redress wrongs, the freedom to keep and bear arms, and so forth.

If you believe that man must live for others, government becomes your ruler. There is no alternative. A large group seeking to plan and execute some plan requires by its nature a leader, or leadership. In a nation of people who believe man should live for others, the government becomes that leader simply by claiming that it represents everyone in the group.

But the government is a group of men. If you believe you must live for others, it is that group of men that will tell you what to do, how to do it and when to do it. It is that group of men that will regulate and control every aspect of your life, from hopscotch to hospital.

Progressivism, socialism, communism are all expressions of collectivism. But collectivism as repeatedly shown in countless examples throughout history cannot work. So, necessarily, the collectivist seeks an accommodation. He is willing to allow vestiges of capitalism, not too much but enough to keep the leaders in shoes and jets to fly to their vacation spots. All else is controlled and regulated by government, which is what we have today: A "mixed economy."

No matter how you describe him politically, Mr. Obama is a collectivist. It doesn't matter whether you say he's a socialist, a progressive or a communist. It all adds up to collectivism. It all adds up to---like it or not, accept it or not---everyone being forced to live for others.

The question is: why should men live for others when they can better live their own life? They "should," according to collectivists, because it gives collectivists power over men's actions, which is what all forms of collectivism are about.

So, if you wonder about those who seek power over other men, it's instructive to recognize that all collectivist doctrines depend on the values that the able create.

Consider, for instance, the slogans of both socialism and communism. Socialists declare, "From each according to his ability; to each according to work performed." Communists declare, "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."

Notice "from each." Who are they? They are the men of ability. If you're one, you might want to think about whether you want to be an individualist or a collectivist when you cast your next vote.

Suggested Reading:
Leonard Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels

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