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Free As A Bird…A Sick, Wheezing, Uninsured Bird

By Jesse Taylor
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 13:29 EDT
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imageThomas Sowell writes, in the clarion voice for personal liberty we’ve all come to know and use to justify wearing body armor over our kidneys, that universal health insurance is the enemy of freedom. This is mainly because we live in a healthcare system rife with freedom and opportunity and sunshine, and liberals want to give all of that up so that we can get mandatory abortions for 11-year-olds and mandatory death for anyone over 67.

If we can be so easily stampeded by rhetoric that neither the public nor the Congress can be bothered to read, much less analyze, bills making massive changes in medical care, then do not be surprised when life and death decisions about you or your family are taken out of your hands– and out of the hands of your doctor– and transferred to bureaucrats in Washington.

Right, because a government bureaucrat will be standing over your doctor’s shoulder quietly demanding that your colonoscopy come without anesthetic. Or doing it via videophone. Because we live in the future. I would be surprised that Sowell doesn’t seem to recognize that there’s a massive private bureaucracy that currently controls life and death decisions involving you and your family, but we must remember that Sowell is a liar and an idiot. Also, a philosopher:

Let’s go back to square one. The universe was not made to our specifications. Nor were human beings. So there is nothing surprising in the fact that we are dissatisfied with many things at many times. The big question is whether we are prepared to follow any politician who claims to be able to “solve” our “problem.”

If we are, then there will be a never ending series of “solutions,” each causing new problems calling for still more “solutions.” That way lies a never-ending quest, costing ever increasing amounts of the taxpayers’ money and– more important– ever greater losses of your freedom to live your own life as you see fit, rather than as presumptuous elites dictate.

To rewrite this:

Let’s go back to square one. The universe was not made to our specifications. Nor were human beings. So there is nothing surprising in the fact that we are dissatisfied with many things at many times. The big question is whether we are prepared to follow any doctor who claims to be able to “solve” our “problem.”

If we are, then there will be a never ending series of “solutions,” each causing new problems calling for still more “solutions.” That way lies a never-ending quest, costing ever increasing amounts of the patients’ money and– more important– ever greater losses of your freedom to live your own life as you see fit, rather than as presumptuous elites dictate.

I’m not sure if Sowell thinks that proctologists are the medical version of zebras, galloping along the steppes of his local suburban office complex, seeking to feel out enlarged prostates in between their grazing on the manicured azalea bushes planted outside of their doors…but I don’t think they are. Medicine is an unnatural attempt to solve a problem. So are doctors. So is insurance. So is government. So are op-eds. But, for some reason, it’s just government that makes Sowell feel all squicky inside.

Back in the 18th century, Edmund Burke said, “It is no inconsiderable part of wisdom, to know much of an evil ought to be tolerated” and “I must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes.”

But today’s crusading zealots are not about to tolerate evils or infirmities. If insurance companies are not behaving the way some people think they should, then their answer is to set up a government bureaucracy to either control insurance companies or replace them.

If doctors, hospitals or pharmaceutical companies charge more than some people feel like paying, then the answer is price control. The actual track record of politicians, government bureaucracies, or price control is of no interest to those who think this way.

So, if an artificial system doesn’t work, the solution is to just suck it up until the ghost of Edmund Burke gives to the go-ahead to change it. What, exactly, makes one system the natural order of things and something else an abhorrent revolution against that order? A shittily rationalized political ideology, that’s what!

Politicians are already one of the main reasons why medical insurance is so expensive. Insurance is designed to cover risks but politicians are in the business of distributing largesse. Nothing is easier for politicians than to mandate things that insurance companies must cover, without the slightest regard for how such additional coverage will raise the cost of insurance.

If insurance covered only those things that most people are most concerned about– the high cost of a major medical expense– the price would be much lower than it is today, with politicians piling on mandate after mandate.

Since insurance covers risks, there is no reason for it to cover annual checkups, because it is known in advance that annual checkups occur once a year. Automobile insurance does not cover oil changes, much less the purchase of gasoline, since these are regular recurrences, not risks.

This goes back to a point that I’ve made before: most conservatives obsessed with “freedom” only care about one very particular form of freedom. It’s a nominal form of decision-making, where each person is called upon to individually make – and pay for – those decisions for which there is any rational basis to socialize. Social Security should be done away with because every person should have to handle their retirement on their own. Government-run health insurance is an evil because, optimally, every person should carry as little insurance (itself a socialized process) as possible, instead preferring to make their own economic “life and death” situations with no protection except whatever they have in savings. You’re “free”, but only in the sense that whereas before you gave up some degree of risk for some degree of certainty, you’re now mandated to take that risk because someone who thinks Arthur Laffer is a genius would feel better about it.

Isn’t that just freeing?

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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