Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care...or Smoke and Mirrors in the Halls of Congress...

I haven't had a lot of time to write or even think about social issues much in recent weeks, so I apologize for the lengthy hiatus. New country, new job, new home, new car...lots of things needed sorting out. Someone brought to my attention their concerns over the current health care debate and I thought I would add my two cents.

It may sound wonderful to imagine a world where everyone has cheap affordable healthcare, but what does that mean, who pays for it, and can such a concept as insurance ever be universal? I think the left and the right both grossly oversimplify all the issues involved and selectively fail to see the viewpoint of one side or the other. It is not a question of class struggle. It is not a question of haves versus have-nots. To adopt such a delineation is to instantly put the debate in a socialist camp from the get-go. The question is, as always, individual liberty. Do you have a right to order a doctor around? Do you have the medical knowledge necessary to second-guess their decisions? Do you have the financial knowledge necessary to adjust a fiduciary table of risk and returns? If you do not, then you cannot be expected to be able to select a representative who could responsibly make such decisions either. And if they cannot make such decisions, then should anyone have the right to supersede the conscience of educated and trained professionals at the point of a gun?

When it comes to government involvement in anything, it must always come down to the governments entitlement to use force to enforce law. By expanding legislation, we expand the government's charter to use force against us. Unless there is a damn good reason for that, I will be opposed to any enlargement of federal authority. We have to assume that our professionals will be professional. If they misrepresent their services, lie, make false promotions, etc. they are already violating the law and no further legislation is necessary. New legislation is necessary to define the terms of homesteading new frontiers of human knowledge and territory and the disputes that inevitably come from them. It is not to regulate and direct our lives. I am 100% inflexible on this concept: Individual human rights are absolute and inviolate. But people do not have the right to someone else's labor, their effort, or their livelihood (even and especially including doctors, bankers, and teachers). If Obama truly wished to make healthcare affordable, then he should consider unwinding the Gordian knot that our government has steadily added to practically everything over the last hundred some odd years, rather then instigating irrational waves of panic to help slide through unwarranted and unnecessary controls on free movement and action (e.g. Pig Flu pandemic scare).

Altruism is what is killing us. I believe this now more than ever. If you could but accept that as a possibility, I think you would be amazed at how much of the human narrative comes into a clear and understandable focus. Also how much easier it is to make moral judgments, when those morals are derived from clearly defined concepts which are derived from perceptions and are adjudicated by the facts of human existence and not on arbitrary exhortations of "humanity" as a concept undefined. I listen to Obama speak and I realize that he classifies businessmen as outside the scope of "we" when he refers to "us" as Americans and "them" as the bankers on wall street. But does he accept responsibility for the fact that business could not collude with government if government was not involved in business? Just as government cannot collude with religion, when religion is properly and strictly separated from government. Just as the end to religious war was precipitated by the separation of church and state, so will the class wars be ended by the separation of government and economics. Politics, is the province of reaching a consensus on how to deal with the classical crimes, the classical criminals, to defending the rights of its citizens from enemies foreign and domestic, and for determining the terms by which new properties, both intellectual and real, will be negotiated between vying parties. Nothing else requires an official mandate. The rest, as they say, is up to us, to the professionals, the educated men and women who decide where to invest their resources. The risk is also ours. As is the responsibility. These are absolutes, unchanging through time. No civilized society can be sustained without them. As much as we may want somebody, anybody to promise us sweet things and remove the burden of that responsibility, all attempts to do so throughout history have ended in disaster. If it will, is no longer a question. The question is, if we will let it happen again.

That is a choice we all must make, but rest assured I hold no illusions about my ability to sway you to my way of thinking. I see things in black and white, because that is how clearly the consequences of a course of actions springs to mind. It is an issue of life and death. I have seen what happens to medicine in highly regulated countries. There are horror stories that you could not conceive of happening here. (Such as women dying in childbirth because the ambulance had to keep driving in circles for hours because no hospital could accept them. Why? Because the mish-mash of regulation on obstetrics had so strangled the industry that most doctor's felt it was safer to go into other specializations and the country found itself with a shortage of nursery units. Funny, huh? That's Japan, where they're supposedly worried about a decreasing population). But there is always a first time for everything I guess. Seen the waiting lines in Canada? THAT's where we'll be going and in short order.

I apologize in advance if I haven't dealt properly with all the possible arguments. But fundamentally, my problem is at the root of the assumption--i.e. that government should have anything to do with the choice in this matter. Thereafter is merely quibbling over details of implementation.

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