The debate over the health-care monstrosity that Congress is considering enacting raises some fundamental issues about our lives, liberty, and health.
There is one reason why there is a health-care crisis in America: socialism and interventionism, both at the federal level and the state level. On the demand side, there are Medicare and Medicaid. On the supply side, there are regulations and occupational licensure of physicians and other health-care providers.
Yet, virtually all of the discussion about how to solve the health-care crisis takes place within well-defined parameters in which Medicare, Medicaid, regulation, and licensure are the given. The discussion then focuses on how to resolve the crisis within those parameters.
Just look at any health-care editorial or op-ed in the establishment press or just listen to any news-talk program on radio or television. You will inevitably notice that hardly anyone ever calls for a total repeal of Medicare, Medicaid, health-care regulations, and medical licensure. Instead, virtually every one of the commentators has his own favorite plan for reforming the status quo.
All of this is a ridiculous waste of time and effort. Socialism and interventionism are inherently incapable of working. No matter how much time and energy are put into solving the health care crisis, it won’t matter one iota as long as the reformers are operating within the parameters of socialism and interventionism. The results will be same, no matter what the reform: chaos and crisis, which will only produce the need for more reforms down the road.
Why don’t Americans simply restore a free market to health care? Why are people so wedded to these socialist and interventionist programs? Why are they so committed to making them work instead of ditching them entirely? Indeed, why is the free-market paradigm considered beyond the pale of legitimate discourse when it comes to solving America’s health-care crisis?
One reason is that many Americans don’t even realize that these programs are socialist and interventionist in nature. Instead, they falsely think that they’re core elements of free enterprise. All their lives they’ve been taught, especially in the government schools they attended as children and in the state-supported colleges and universities they attended as adults, that America is a “free enterprise” country.
Thus, in the minds of many Americans, what has failed is not socialism and interventionism but rather free enterprise. And so the logical thing to do is to move toward the opposite — a government takeover of health care.
A second reason is a related one: all too many Americans fail to have an understanding and appreciation of the principles of a genuine free market — that is, a market that is free of all government interference. A free market produces wealth, which enables people to afford more things. It raises people’s standard of living and provides them with the means not only to sustain and improve their own lives through a myriad of choices and options, but also to use charity to help out others who are in need.
The freer an economy, the wealthier the society will be, and the better off the poor will be. Conversely, the more socialistic and interventionist an economy, the poorer society will be, and the worse off the people at the bottom of the economic ladder will be.
A third reason is that all too many modern-day Americans have a tremendous psychological fear of freedom. They have become emotionally dependent on the paternalistic welfare state. The thought that government would not be there to provide health care services to the elderly and the poor is so frightening that they won’t even let their minds go there.
By the same token, the notion that anyone should be free to offer health care services to people without the approval of the government is absolutely terrifying to many Americans. Immediately, their imaginations go wild with such fantasies that doctors without training will be performing brain surgery on them.
There is but one solution to the health care crisis — the free market, which would entail a complete separation of health care and the state, in the same way that our ancestors separated church and state. That would mean the repeal, not a reform, of Medicare, Medicaid, regulation, and occupational licensure and an end to the income taxation needed to pay for all this.
The future well-being of our country necessitates raising our vision to a higher level — one that goes beyond a reform of the status quo — one that necessitates an understanding and appreciation of free-market principles and a deep and abiding faith in ourselves and in a free society.