Crises and emergencies are the time-honored way that people end up losing their liberty at the hands of their own governments. That’s because people become so afraid that they are willing, even eager, to fall victim to the siren song that is always sung by government officials: “Just surrender your liberty to us and we will keep you safe, and as soon as the crisis or emergency is over, we will restore your freedom to you. We promise!”
Of course, we are witnessing this phenomenon first hand in the coronavirus outbreak. The crisis is a tyranny-lover’s dream, and a liberty-lover’s nightmare. Officials at all levels of government are adopting and exercising “emergency” powers that any totalitarian dictator would relish.
Lockdowns. Travel controls. Quarantine zones. Containment areas. Shutdowns. Why, even controls over the sale of guns and ammunitions!
Is life so dear that it must be purchased at any price?
For 30 years, here at The Future of Freedom Foundation we have been calling for a complete separation of healthcare and the state.
No more central planning in healthcare. No more Medicare and Medicaid. No more medical licensure laws. No more governmental healthcare regulations or controls.
In other words, a total free-market healthcare system. A healthcare system that is totally free of government control, management, regulation, planning, and interference. We have consistently argued that this is the only way — repeat: only way — to achieve a healthy healthcare system.
The free market produces the best of everything. And it is our heritage as Americans, a heritage that distinguishes us from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the rest of the world.
Throughout those 30 years, there have been those who have said that FFF’s free-market solution to healthcare is just too radical, too extreme. “Come up with something practical,” people have advised us. By “practical,” they mean keeping the current government-planned, government-regulated, and government-provided healthcare system intact and coming up with some “libertarian” reform that will finally make it work.
It will never happen. It can never happen. It is impossible to make America’s current healthcare system work. This is what we have been emphasizing for 30 years here at FFF. No matter what reform is adopted, whether it is by conservatives, progressives (i.e., “liberals”), or libertarians (including “health saving accounts”), the ongoing, perpetual healthcare crisis will continue.
There is a simple reason for this. America’s healthcare system is a socialist healthcare system. And socialism is an inherently defective paradigm. That’s why America’s healthcare system has been in crisis for decades. That’s what socialism does. It produces crises or what the economist Ludwig von Mises called “planned chaos.”
The concept of Medicare and Medicaid originated among socialists in Germany in the late 19th century. These programs are based on the socialist principle of using the force of the state to take money from people to whom it belongs and give it to people to whom it does not belong. America’s healthcare system is also based on the principles of central planning and government regulation, which are also core features of the socialist paradigm.
The entire concept of socialism is based on looking on government as one’s daddy. That’s why the welfare state, which is a variation of socialism, is often referred to as the “paternalistic” state. Millions of American adults look on the government as their parent and expect the government to take care of them as little children.
And now we are seeing the results of this sordid socialist healthcare system. People are looking to public officials to save them from the coronavirus, notwithstanding the fact that it is obvious that government officials are doing nothing more than running around like chickens with their heads cut off, destroying what’s left of American liberty in the process.
In the meantime, the healthcare industry — the industry that would ordinarily have the best chance of keeping us safe from threats to our health — is paralyzed and stultified with stifling rules and regulations that require government permission. And characterized by the same paternalistic mindset that characterizes so many other American adults, many healthcare providers are looking toward public officials for direction, permission, and orders.
Imagine instead that America had embraced the libertarian idea of a separation of healthcare and the state 30 years ago. Today, we would have a vibrant healthcare system, one in which the state would not be permitted to interfere. Nobody would be looking to government officials to keep them safe from a healthcare crisis. We would all be looking to the doctors, hospitals, healthcare entrepreneurs, and countless healthcare providers to guide us and advise us. Unleashed from government control, planning, and regulation, the healthcare industry would be mobilizing, advising, recommending, testing, and more quickly coming up with cures and treatments. It would be a spontaneous order, as Friedrich Hayek termed it, one in which people would be putting their faith in liberty and a free market healthcare system rather than in healthcare socialism and the state.
Yes, the fact that America has so far chosen to remain with a socialist healthcare system is water under the bridge with respect to the current coronavirus crisis. But the issue is not water under the bridge with respect to future pandemics, which epidemiologists say will occur, just as they have been warning people for years, warnings that America’s healthcare central planners, not surprisingly, chose to ignore.
I said it 30 years ago. I’ve said it ever since. And I’ll say it again now: Separate healthcare and the state. Our lives and liberties depend on it.