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How Not to Fight Socialized Medicine

August 25th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 12 Comments · Socialized Medicine

Obama has unwisely outraged old people by trying to fund socialized medicine on their backs. The Republicans sense an opportunity for political gain, as well they should. But what do they conclude?

WASHINGTON — Republicans are targeting older Americans worried about President Barack Obama’s health overhaul plans with a “seniors’ health care bill of rights.”

The six principles outlined Monday by the Republican National Committee include protecting Medicare, prohibiting rationing of health care based on age and making sure government doesn’t get between seniors and their doctors.

The geniuses in the Republican Party have decided to guarantee socialized medicine for old people as a right. They might score tactical points against the Democrats with this move, but they are making a strategic blunder that ensures they lose the war. By conceding that Americans — at least the old ones — have a right to medical care, they are giving up the essential point in the argument against nationalized health care.

Only by standing firm for the principle that there is no right to health care — that there is no right for one individual to expect any goods or services from others — can those who oppose socialized medicine win.

As Yaron Brook puts it:

“There can be no such thing as a ‘right’ to products or services created by the effort of others. And this most definitely includes medical products and services. Rights, as the Founders conceived them, are not claims to economic goods, but to freedoms of action.

“You are free to see a doctor and pay him for his services—no one may forcibly prevent you from doing so. But you do not have a ‘right’ to force the doctor to treat you without charge or to force others to pay for your treatment. The rights of some cannot require the coercion and sacrifice of others.”

This is why I fear we won’t get out of this without some major expansion of government in the field of medicine — even though most people would rather the government do nothing. We’re in for it because we have two parties in Washington, DC: the Crusading Socialists and the Befuddled Socialists. It’s the CSers vs. the BSers, and you can make those initials stand for what you will. The Befuddled ones have demonstrated with their inability to think in principle why they are losers.

12 Comments so far ↓

  • Moataz

    From discussions on other boards it seems that some want government action that corrects market “failures”. Also those so-called “failures” lie, like beauty and honor, in the eyes of the beholder they remark.

    what seems to be clear is that there is a social goal to run an equitable health system in which no American should be allowed to die for want of his or her ability to pay for a life-saving intervention coupled with a generalization of “rights” if you will. So in order to achieve such an equitable system claims of an individual mandate are necessary.

    My understanding is that the main (only?) market failures in the health market are adverse selection and moral hazard.

  • madmax

    “My understanding is that the main (only?) market failures in the health market are adverse selection and moral hazard.”

    Both of which are the consequence of government intervention. The problem of adverse selection is that insurance is a bargain if you’re sick and an unnecessary expense if you’re healthy. But that can be solved by charging sick people a higher price.

    Insurance is supposed to be an arrangement for risk pooling. If you have extraordinarily high risks, and are going to cost the insurance company huge amounts of money there is no justification for their passing those costs on to other people. In a system where people are free to choose, an insurance company that tries to do that would go out of business.

    Socialists have corrupted insurance by perverting its very purpose. The free market of insurance didn’t fail. The welfare-state perversion of insurance is what’ failing. And that is driven by altruism and egalitarianism, the same two things which are destroying everything in their path.

  • Richard

    “The six principles outlined Monday by the Republican National Committee include… prohibiting rationing of health care based on age”

    Oh of course, the way to make sure rationing doesn’t occur is to outlaw it. Brilliant! Why didn’t the Democrats think of that.

    Up next, outlawing breaking the law.

  • Jim May

    This is good ammo to be used against every idiot conservative who still imagines that things would have been better under a McCain administration.

  • Jim May

    From discussions on other boards it seems that some want government action that corrects market “failures”.

    There is no such thing as “market failure”. Markets are a precondition of a successful society; they are not a guarantee of it, nor do they guarantee the realization of any particular goal. Individuals fail in the pursuit of specific goals; markets do not.

    There IS such a thing as market *corruption*, however, which impairs the ability of markets to function. Health care is an example of a market badly corrupted by government interventions; education even more so.

  • madmax

    “There is no such thing as “market failure””

    I think this is the best argument to make – that the entire concept of “market failure” is Platonic rubbish. When you get right down to it, saying that markets failed is like saying that freedom failed which, sadly, is what liberals and conservatives believe – each in their own sphere of interest.

  • Moataz

    Platonic rubbish?

    did Plato have something to say about markets

  • madmax


    The “market failure” claim is largely based on a view of the perfectly free market as some type of Platonic ideal that guarantees equal access of goods and services to all people. Its the same thing as those economists who believe in “efficient market theory” where information should be distributed to all market participants instantly and equally. This is all based on a Platonic theory of competition and market exchange. George Reisman covered this in one of his books. I forget which one.

  • Andrew Dalton

    The underlying epistemological issue is that “failure” implies two prior identifications: a purpose, and a standard of success.

    Claims of “market failure” rest upon implied purposes that are incorrect — such as egalitarianism, or the “greater good,” or achieving “efficiency” in the pie-dividing sense. And the standard is generally some mathematical model that may or may not describe real markets.

    The properly identified purpose of a market is the production and exchange of values. The proper standard is whether the participants freely produce and exchange goods and services based upon their own judgments of self-interest.

    Such a system can fail if force or fraud occurs, whether the source is criminals or a statist government.

  • suzy hood

    I am a physician. I wish to practice however I want. Some patients may not like me, some may love me. If I want to take call at 3am it’s because I have some idea that I will be paid for that work. If I became a postal worker, with little control over my life and my pay, I would not be a very effective physician. I’d be a disgruntled govt employee charged with taking out your melanoma. Service without a smile, America. Would you be comfortable with this?

  • madmax

    “Such a system can fail if force or fraud occurs, whether the source is criminals or a statist government.”

    But is it accurate to say the the system failed in the case of criminals or statist governments? Wouldn’t the case of criminals or criminal governments mean that there really was no free market system?

  • Andrew Dalton

    madmax –

    Obviously, we have unfree markets to the extent that the initiation of force exists — whether under conditions of anarchy, organized crime, or the welfare/regulatory state.