For 30 years here at FFF, we have been saying that there is one — and only one — solution to America’s decades-long, ongoing, never-ending healthcare crisis. That solution is: a total separation of healthcare and the state. No more Medicare or Medicaid. No more medical licensure. No more government regulation and management of healthcare. A total free-market healthcare system, one that is totally free of government regulation, control, or management.
In a larger context, we have been saying: No more mandatory charity programs and the taxes that fund them. Abolish the income tax and the FICA tax. Leave people free to keep everything they earn and decide for themselves what to do with their own money. A system based on 100 percent voluntary charity. No more coerced compassion or caring.
Throughout those 30 years, there have been people who have said to us, “You all are just too radical, Jacob. What you’re calling for is utopia. You need to be practical. People are not ready for liberty. Give them small bites. Do it gradually and incrementally. FFF needs to settle for putting out public-policy reforms that make our system work more efficiently. Support of FFF will increase.”
Freedom and practicality
We have always rejected that response, for two reasons:
One, it’s not freedom. FFF is about freedom. That’s our goal. We want to live in a free society. Achieving a genuinely free society necessarily entails identifying infringements on liberty and then removing them. If all that we libertarians succeed in doing is reforming the welfare-warfare state serfdom under which we live, we will not have achieved freedom, any more than 19th-century slavery reform would have meant freedom for the slaves. Freedom necessarily entails the dismantling of the structure of slavery and the structure of welfare-warfare state serfdom.
Two, healthcare reform is never going to work. It can’t work. The U.S. has an inherently defective healthcare system. Inherently defective means it cannot be fixed.
Who is the one being impractical and utopian? How can it be practical to advocate reforming a system that is inherently defective? How can hoping to fix what is inherently defective be anything but utopian — i.e, impossible to achieve?
Consider, for example, a public-policy reform proposal that is popular among some libertarians: health savings accounts. The argument is that that proposal will improve America’s crisis-ridden healthcare system. That might or might not be true but two things are certain: One, it isn’t freedom because it leaves the crisis-ridden system intact, and, two, it won’t fix a crisis-ridden healthcare system that is inherently defective.
America’s longtime healthcare crisis
We need to keep in mind that America’s healthcare system was in crisis long before the coronavirus came along. Everyone acknowledged that. That was why Obamacare was adopted. That’s why statists are now calling for a full-fledged government-operated healthcare system. Everyone agrees that America’s healthcare system hasn’t worked.
The problem is that people have refused to acknowledge the cause of the problem. Imagine a person standing by a wall for 30 years and banging his head against it. FFF comes up to him and asks him how he is feeling. He says, “Oh, I have a terrible headache.” FFF says, “Well, why don’t you stop banging your head against the wall?” He says, “That’s ridiculous. Banging my head against this wall isn’t the cause of my headache. You libertarians are so radical, so impractical, and so utopian.”
There is a simple reason for the cause of America’s healthcare crisis: America’s healthcare system is a socialist system, one based on Medicare and Medicaid and healthcare central planning and regulation, all of which are core socialist principles and features. Socialism produces crises or what Ludwig von Mises called “planned chaos.” What better term than that to describe America’s statist healthcare system?
Thus, when a major healthcare crisis like the coronavirus strikes, how can it surprise anyone that an inherently defective, crisis-ridden, socialist healthcare system is going to be totally unequipped to handle it?
But when FFF points this out, it’s like the guy with the headaches. That’s not what statists want to hear. They want to keep banging their heads against the wall and want us libertarians to come up with a solution to the headaches that entails letting them continue banging their heads against the wall.
Moreover, when the healthcare crisis becomes even bigger, like it has done with the coronavirus, the anger and frustration among statists inevitably leads them to resort to the only thing they know — the destruction of liberty through the adoption of tyrannical, dictatorial, and oppressive political measures.
Libertarianism and the coronavirus crisis
Not surprisingly, the question is being addressed to libertarians: How would you handle the coronavirus crisis? But the answer that statists want assumes the continued existence of their statist program. As soon as you start to give them the only real solution to America’s decades-old, ongoing, never-ending healthcare crisis, including now coronavirus, they angrily interrupt you and say, “We need a practical solution now. You libertarians are so impractical.”
Imagine if, say, 20 years, ago, Americans had listened to FFF and adopted our concepts of economic liberty and healthcare liberty. No income tax, no FICA tax, no mandatory charity programs, no Medicare and Medicaid, no medical licensure, and no governmental regulation, control, or management of healthcare.
imagine a family that has paid for the past 20 years say, $10,000 or $20,000 a year in income tax and FICA taxes. That would mean $10,000 times 20 years or $20,000 times 20 years. That would mean that that family would have $200,00 or $400,000 in savings in the bank, plus interest. That’s a sizable nest egg for anyone who would have to go unemployed for a few months owing to the coronavirus crisis.
At the same time, we would have a vibrant, dynamic, free-market healthcare system, one that wouldn’t need to secure permission from government officials before producing test kits and providing treatment. Instead of looking to government officials for orders, commands, and dictates for the coronavirus crisis, we would be looking to a healthy and independent healthcare industry to lead and guide us through the crisis.
The free market produces the best of everything, including healthcare. And the free market is our heritage as Americans. Socialism, tyranny, and oppression produce the worst of everything and inevitably make the situation worse. And socialism, tyranny, and oppression are the heritage of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
I’ve said it for 30 years, and I will say it again: Freedom and free markets— genuine freedom and free markets — are the only solution to America’s healthcare crisis. That means: Repeal Medicare and Medicaid. Repeal medical licensure. Repeal government regulation, control, planning, and management of healthcare. Totally separate healthcare and the state.
This is the only solution to America’s healthcare crisis. Keeping America’s socialist healthcare system intact and trying to reform it is a fool’s errand, and it will only lead to more death, suffering, impoverishment, and oppression.