The New Clarion

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First, Do No Harm

July 31st, 2012 by Inspector · 9 Comments · Politics, Socialized Medicine, Uncategorized

Health care, like all goods and services, is a limited resource. Once it is removed from market forces by turning it over to the government and giving it away for “free*,” rationing is the inevitable consequence.

Do you know what “rationing” means in the context of health care?

This. This is what it means.

Well, you know, they have to consider the interests of society as a whole. And, apparently, that interest is that old people die. What of their individual interests? Don’t be silly; it’s not about individuals. Besides, it would be selfish to want to live.

Alright, turning the sarcasm off: end of life triage decisions about costly medical care are no fun, no matter what. But at least in a free system, you can pay for as much or as little of it as you earn and/or as you choose. Despite socialist whimpering to the contrary, it is just to have the care that you earned. Justice is even in the language: observe the word, “earned.”

This may seem harsh at first glance, but what socialists fail to understand is that reality itself is what prevents any alternative. Socialism does not make this decision kinder or more just. Socialist Utopians claim that it “should not be about money,” but that is a physical impossibility. No power on earth can make it not about money. They can make it not about your money, but it’s still about money… just the state’s money instead of yours. The state could tax away every dollar on the planet, and it still would not be enough to provide medical care to everyone without triage. It wouldn’t even be close.

And when it’s about the state’s money… believe me, the decision does not become kinder. If you’re old enough, the state’s interest is that you die. I am not kidding about that. That is a grim, mathematical, truth.

Kinder, that is not. And it does not become more just, either. Your money may not be a perfectly just measure** – perhaps you were good and brilliant in life, but unlucky. (or had your wealth destroyed by socialism…) But it is at least somewhat just. It is literally what you earned. You are picking nobody else’s pocket, and that is just. Contrast socialism, which is – by definition – unjust. It is a gigantic system of trafficking in the unearned. Of taking from those who have earned things and giving to those who have not earned them.

In short, any socialist interfering with the market necessarily adds injustice by trafficking in the unearned. More injustice than its proponents promise it will “fix.” (promise, and never deliver) Whatever you think of the justice of what happens in freedom, abridging that freedom is necessarily more unjust.


** “Perfectly,” in the Platonic sense, which is to say, fantastical.

9 Comments so far ↓

  • Drew

    Working in the Canadian (socialist) system as a nurse, I can speak to the issue first hand. Absolutely, death is a blessing for hospitals dealing in constant scarcity. The way our system is funded is such that politically popular services such as cardiac, trauma, cancer, and maternal/pediatrics will receive special funding whereas the ER, Internal Medicine, etc. — the “backbone” of the hospital system — is completely clogged up with elderly needing nursing homes, hospice, home c are, etc. It really sucks being an old person in a hospital. It’s really tragic. It’s very depressing for me. They often feel they are a burden, expressed in their words at times. Then there are those that feel entitled to everything for free, and top quality.

  • John McVey

    Based on things I’ve read and actual advocates I’ve met, I can think of a few different bottom lines for different people who push for socialised medicine, all of which are reprehensible. There are those who:

    – following your identification, are indeed living in a compartmentalised fantasy-land under the belief that all they need is more resources for all to be set aright (and boy oh boy do you see THAT expressed *everywhere* that the State has taken control, eg education and infrastructure as well as medicine)

    – would rather that life and death be reduced to a kind of lottery outside individuals’ own control than allow some individuals to act to beat the odds: action is to be reserved for Authority and its agents, for the greater good of course

    – would rather that everyone be equally in pain and die equally young than allow some to have more relief and live longer

    – would rather that people be trapped, suffer and die within State systems of estimates and plans than let people be free and off-plan, because We Have To Have Plans or there’d be Chaos

    As to the first, I’ve seen at least one mechanism for it: people who give “reasons” (ie sophistry) for fragmented thoughts and emotions regarding “better” ways of doing things, too obviously motivated by a short-range pragmatist seige-mentality arising from trying to meet largely unquestioned goals under impossible conditions set by superiors (this is happens in more than just State-run organisations, of course), which fragments and sophistry then sum up to socialism when added together and their implications identified. The question then arises, how do the emotions and the value-judgement of “better” arise?

    Part of the answer for that is “efficiency”. In some instances, the “efficient” is that which creates the least work for them, independent of any concern for consequences outside their department, and other times it is that which leads to a system that “looks good” in a way that may be amusing to see in 8yo boys with inch-high plastic men and toy train-sets but utterly inexcusable for grown men dealing with real people in the real world. Note that this links the first above with the fourth above, with different people coming to each of that pair from different directions and with different but related motives. I’m sure there’s more.

    Note also the connection between the second one there and the regulation of stock-markets, the Vatican’s attitude to birth control, and laws against ticket-scalping: God forbid men take active control over their own lives too much, they must submit to the will of superiors and take what they get. It’s the same evil: a concept of “justice” divorced from the proper context of what is right for man – there is at work a hatred of man qua man.

    Deeper still, to the extent it is not traceable back to mere juvenility given a sophist veneer as justification, it goes back to intrinsic values, and from there back to intrinsicism in general epistemology.

    It’s funny how you mention Plato, because in finally taking the foregoing back to metaphysics you could probably toss in reference to variants of the Timaeus into a thorough analysis, too (note: I have not read that dialogue and am working from what I’ve read about it).

    I imagine one could apply a near-identical analysis to any element of socialism. Why is socialised-anything wrong? Because existence exists.

  • Rory

    Pro-tip from a british Objectivist: don’t link to the Daily Mail. I don’t know what your equivalent American scum rags are but… yeah… you’ll just get laughed at if you seriously hold up something from the Daily Mail to back up your claims.

  • c andrew


    I’m curious if the Telegraph falls into the same category? I admit that I don’t know much about the UK press and have only regularly read “The Economist” so I don’t have any cultural references outside of that.

  • Inspector

    Rory – good to know. I’ll try to keep that in mind.

  • Antacid

    Interesting related article in pjmedia today about the effects of the Massachusetts medical care plan that “Obamacare” is based on:

  • Inspector

    Indeed. It really goes to show you just how bad it is, when the author of that mess is the choice that supposedly opposes the Obamacare version.

    He would go so far if he only had the courage to denounce Romneycare completely. Or, maybe if not courage, then the sense to know it’s something to be denounced at all.

  • Drew

    Jon. What you said was interesting but not clear at all.

  • John McVey

    Drew: Yes, I know I need to redo that quite substantially. I’ll get to it some day, I am woefully behind on other writing assignments at the moment.