Accomplish Freedom | Mark A. Hurt, MD

Is it possible to accomplish political freedom in Medicine?

Not in the current state of American politics, which is predominately one of statism, i.e., the government "ownership" or regulation (or both in some cases) of the economy.  One can strive only to educate Americans about the meaning of individual rights, with its consequence:  the free market.  To accomplish this, one must begin in the schools and the universities, which, today, are against political freedom, to show why government ownership and control of business in general is evil -- i.e., against man's nature.

Oddly enough, the popular public sentiment at this writing, April 2010, is outrage at the passage of the new health care legislation.  One can observe this in the "Tea Party" movement, which is, fundamentally, a grass-roots movement against excessive taxation, government expansion, and government spending more than is necessary to maintain a proper government.  This is a good thing, but it is not clear where it will lead.

 

It is not good enough to just be against something.  One has to frame a point of view in positive terms.  What one is for is more important than what one is against.  If what one is for is unknown, poorly understood, or communicated, it can be worse than just being against a bad idea; one can replace a bad idea with an even worse idea.


For instance, I argue that Medicare is nothing more than government expropriation of the private property (money in this case) of some Americans (anyone who produces wealth) to fund the medical care of other Americans (those over 65).  As bad as this is, it would be much much worse to exchange the idea of Medicare for those over 65 years old for Medicare from birth until death.

In this example, which is popular among those on the political Left, but also some on the political Right, is that the government must be involved in paying for the health care of some at the expense of others.

 

The premise, however, is false.  There is no need for some to sacrifice to others with the government as collector of sacrifices.  This kind of action violates the very principle of individual rights and makes a mockery of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.  The proper position is that each individual has a right to live for his own sake without sacrificing himself to anyone.  What about the poor?  In a politically free society, nothing will prevent voluntary charity, and nothing should.  The honest poor will be provided for by voluntary charity in a free society, but the dishonest poor will have to fend for themselves as justice requires.

 

Those who clamor for medical care for the poor should put their private money where their mouths are.  They should help the poor or organize non-profit organizations to help the poor rather than agitate for the expropriation of money from the wealthy.  If so much capital were not moved from the private to public coffers by government fiat, there would be much much more money to help the poor and much more competition in the medical profession to drive down the costs of medical care.  Under the current government plans, less private money is available, and more public money is tied up in bureaucracy.

 

Yet, despite all of this, it is the private sector who is always blamed for being so mean to everyone when they themselves have been victimized.  Unfortunately, it is the private sector and profit motive, often those in the medical professions, who take on an unearned guilt, making the problem even worse, offering no defense for political freedom and private medicine.

 

Thus, in the current state of affairs, I hold out little hope for political freedom in the medical professions.  If freedom is ever to be achieved again, it will be a long educational process, and one that will require a philosophical revolution similar to that of the framers of the United States.

 

This is not to say that one should give up -- far from it.  It is important to speak, write, and agitate peacefully  for reason, for individual rights, and for capitalism and political freedom.  If one does not fight for these conditions, there is nothing to fight for at all.