From Democrats to Death Panels

As the Obama regime and Democrats in Congress this week make another thrust for more socialized medicine, in the fascist style of exerting control over ‘private’ businesses and individuals, it seems that America’s only hope for the failure of this thrust is that the tyrants in both parties might fail to agree on the precise form of the tyranny and the way to distribute the plunder: Will abortions be funded by government? Will the government implement the tyranny in one fell strike (as Democrats want) or implement it in stages (as Republicans want)? As a private citizen, I feel like a kidnap victim whose best hope is that my kidnappers will continue to fight each other over how to kill me.

Both political parties want to give health insurance to every individual—whether the individual has earned it or not—by taking more freedom from taxpayers, insurance companies (yes, those current ‘greedy’, ‘money-grubbing’ scapegoats) and doctors. Such a policy is as moral as giving a wife to every man, by taking freedom from women.

Both parties agree that individuals have a right to health care. Yes, an individual has a right to care for his own health. But he does not have a right to force others to care for his health, any more than he has a right to force others to care for his sexual needs. In a free society, social intercourse of any kind (including economic and medical) requires mutual consent.

Both parties agree that insurance companies should be forbidden from denying health insurance based on pre-existing conditions. But selling health insurance for sick people is a contradiction in terms, like selling life insurance for dead people.

Democrats are worse than Republicans in one respect. I don’t think that most Republicans (with notable exceptions such as Theodore Roosevelt) would have dreamt up such an evil as socialized medicine on their own. But once Democrats had dreamt it up, or resurrected the dream—or nightmare—from Soviets and National Socialists (Nazis), the Republicans have not known how to argue against it; Republicans agree with Democrats on the ethics of altruism. For the antidote—rational selfishness—read Ayn Rand.

I have blogged on the issue of socialized medicine often in the past year; for instance, see these:
Immoral, Impractical Socialized Medicine
Obama-Care: A Tyrant’s Notion of ‘Choice’
Republicans to the Rescue of Evil
A Tyrant’s Notion of Competition

In the small hope that my thoughts will help someone influence a Republican or moderate Democrat before the looming next vote in Congress, I am writing a little more.

When Republicans have charged that further socializing of health care will lead to rationing, Democrats have responded that health care is already rationed now. For example, George Stephanopoulos recently said this:

You can’t deny that rationing happens every single day in America right now.

Obama himself went even further this week when he said this:

The insurance companies continue to ration healthcare based on who’s sick and who’s healthy, on who can pay and who can’t pay.

Not only is selling health insurance to sick people a contradiction in terms, but so is selling something to people who cannot pay for it. Obama is condemning insurance companies for selling insurance, for being insurance companies instead of charities.

Regarding Obama’s use of the word ‘rationing’, consider that free individuals—including the owners of insurance companies—have a right to ration their own time and property. Rationing of goods and services is wrong when the rationing is done by government, when government controls the goods and services rightfully owned by private individuals. This equating of a private indiviudal’s rationing of his own resources with the government’s seizure and subsequent rationing of those resources exhibits a mentality of a tyrant (a mentality I have discussed here, here, here, here and here). This argument is like saying, “Your wife has forbidden this other man to have sex with her; therefore, the government may forbid you to have sex with her.”

Romance and physical affection are basic human needs, certainly more basic than health insurance. Given an alternative between the fulfillment of either of these two kinds of needs, most people would choose romance and physical affection, and with good reason. What then of the millions of people without romantic partners? By the socialist’s argument, the government should provide for these people, and a desirable woman has no right to ration her affections only among men (or with one man) that she desires.

Imagine if, instead of seeking the mutual affections of some woman of his choosing, a man had to go before a government panel and request a woman of the panel’s choosing? Imagine the plight of that man, and that woman.

Yes, in a free society, every individual must ration—that is, manage and use judiciously—the scarce and precious assets that he owns: his time, his body, and the property he worked and traded for. Coercion by government does not make these assets less scarce and precious, but merely transfers ownership and control.

Freedom does not shield an individual from the unbending absolutism of reality. In a free society, individuals must work intelligently and hard or face the likelihood of death—by starvation or by disease. But in a free society, every individual is free to keep his earnings and to seek the trade—and even the charity—of every other individual by mutual consent. Under socialism, individual ownership and mutual consent are replaced by the edicts of a board or a panel. But the unbending absolutism of reality remains. When not enough people work intelligently and hard—and intelligent work is not possible at all under a system in which decisions regarding production are made under coercion, and people are not allowed to keep what they produce—then many people must die. Which people?

One very famous darling of the Left, George Bernard Shaw, provides this candid implicit answer on an old video recording played on the Glenn Beck Program:

I don’t want to punish anybody. (INAUDIBLE) an extraordinary number of people whom I want to kill. I think it would be a good thing to make everybody come before a properly-appointed board, just as they might come before the income tax commissioner, and say every five years, or every seven years, just put them there, and say, “Sir, or madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence?”

If you’re not producing as much as you consume or perhaps a little more, then, clearly, we cannot use the big organizations of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.

At the White House health-care summit on February 25, Sen. Tom Harkin (D- IA) made this perceptive and revealing argument:

The last two things I just want to address myself to is this idea that somehow we can do a little bit; we can take an incremental type of an approach; somehow we can do insurance reforms but we don’t have to do anything else.

Well, quite frankly, if we want insurance reforms, you can only do that if everybody’s in the pool. You can only get everybody in the pool if you make it affordable for middle-class families and others. You can only make it affordable for middle-class families and others if you have cost controls.

What I’m saying, Mr. President and others, is this all hangs together. You can’t pick one out and do it without doing it all together. It all hangs together.

If Harkin understood freedom, he would understand that his own argument reveals the evil of the plan he supports. Harkin’s argument illustrates how each new restriction on freedom begets the next one. To “get everybody in the pool,” the government must force people to buy insurance, and force healthy people to pay as much as unhealthy people pay. But then healthy people must pay a lot, and then the government must institute “cost controls.” Here, Harkin ends his analysis, but let us continue it.

The government cannot control costs, because the government does not create better, cheaper medical techniques; instead, the government controls prices. It makes the price of health care for all people—even sick people—artificially low; it makes the price of health care to poor people zero. This artificially low price increases demand drastically, since people can never get enough of a cheap or free good; also, people have reduced incentive to live healthy lifestyles, since the government will take care of them no matter what. At the same time, the government controls the prices paid to doctors and medical suppliers, and makes these prices artificially low too. These artificially low prices decrease the supply of doctors and medical equipment and supplies, as doctors and suppliers leave the industry or cut back on marginally profitable activities.

So then there is not enough health care to go around. Therefore, the government dictates lifestyle choices—what to eat and to do to be healthy, how many children each particular person may have, what careers are safe enough to pursue, and what careers are needed to support the inadequate health-care industry—and decides who gets what health care. Thus we arrive at the solution proposed by George Bernard Shaw.

Whether or not death panels are stipulated literally in the current health-care bill, they are the inevitable result.