The morning after the end of the CPAC conference I received a polite email from a man who had given me $20 for a copy of my book even though I had only been asking for $8 and was in some cases giving them away, because that late in the conference I didn't want to have a surplus to carry home in my luggage. The email began with some pleasantries and then came this: "Mr. Hyde, Many of the errors of your book stem from your lack of knowledge of healthcare from the inside."
Oh. Wasn't quite expecting a comment like that from a CPAC attendee, but fine.
For the record, I know a little bit about medicine from the inside, being married to a physician in private practice who not only has to deal with the regulatory assault on her profession in general, but the bureaucratic blindness and prejudice against her specialty in particular. But we'll set that aside for now.
I read on. He detailed his impressive accomplishments as a doctor, researcher and fat grant recipient. Among other things he said, "I describe myself as:
1. A social liberal -- essentially a libertarian position
2. A fiscal conservative
3. A theological fundamentalist -- this trumps number one
My practice (see website) is among the most transformative in the USA."
And then the kicker: "I believe that healthcare is a human right."
I consider this important to address because we have someone here who is not a low-information voter but a very intelligent and successful Medical professional, who believes that healthcare is a 'human right'.
Health care a 'Right'
Rights mean freedom from violent or coercive power, especially government power; freedom from being told what to do and what not to do.
Nothing can be a right which cannot be perfectly reciprocal between and among any and all individuals. I have a right that you do not murder me. I have a right not to be robbed, defrauded, raped, persecuted or conspired against by you. And you have exactly the same rights with respect to me. There is no contradiction or conflict between us having the same rights at the same time.
But if one person is to have an absolute right to be given something, then someone else has to be forced to give it to that person whether he wants to or not. Everyone cannot have the same right at the same time. If I have a right to health care, then you have to give it to me. But then that is a violation of your right to to your own life and property, including healthcare. And if I am equally obligated to provide the means of healthcare or anything else to you, then that is either a cancellation or an irreconcilable contradiction. Your right not to be murdered by me in no way violates my liberty. But my right to the goods and services produced by others against their will is my right to rob, which is a violation of other's more fundamental rights. They cannot coexist.
To say that health care is a right is equivalent to saying that a Mercedes is a right and that every citizen must be given one. For one thing, What we call Healthcare in 2014 is very different and far more advanced than anything known as Healthcare a century ago, a generation ago or even 10 years ago. One day the most entry-level automobile within the means of an entry-level factory worker will be as good as an advanced Mercedes is today, just as today's standard features of power steering, automatic transmission, airbags and antilock brakes were once available only in luxury editions reserved for the rich. The poor in America do not drive Model T's. If healthcare had been declared a right in 1950 in America, then everyone today might have access to healthcare as the state of the art was in 1950, but nobody would ever have had 2010 medicine as America achieved it under the greater liberty and lesser government intervention that existed here relative to all other nations.
If I encounter a sick person in the street, or if I become aware of someone in my social circle, work, my family, or in the church who is sick or otherwise in need of Healthcare Services which he or she cannot afford, then you may say that I have a moral obligation to help that person if I am at all able. But that is wholly different from saying that we must construct a massive salaried, pensioned and unaccountable bureaucratic army in Washington DC, commanded by elite politically connected power-brokers, to administer a system that overrides and supersedes the knowledge, power and decisions of patients, families and doctors in private practice. Moral obligation, informed by ethical principles, moved by persuasion and ultimately arbitrated by God or Providence, is completely different and incompatible with governmental coercion via taxation and the threat of imprisonment at gunpoint.
To the contrary it is both futile and immoral to violate the liberty of citizens in the pursuit of a 'greater good', for there is no greater good. It is precisely that liberty which has produced the most effective healthcare system in the world. I remind you that people who have no insurance at all in America have a statistically much better chance as to their actual health outcomes that those covered by the federal program that has targeted the poor for almost a half century already: Mediaid. Why don't we get that one right, or put it out of its misery, before granting orders of magnitude more power to the federal government?
Liberals object that charity is inadequate. But charity is only inadequate to well-educated people who want a high-paid professional career doing 'good'. Americans are the most generous people on earth, voluntarily donating more of their time, talent and treasure (at all income levels) than any other nation on earth, especially conservative Americans, and especially religious Americans.
Charity then is not a failure; it is a priceless gift to be cherished and cultivated for which we make no apology.
So charity is a real and important part of the solution. And what are the other parts? Thank you for asking, because this is what we need to be talking about. Everyone including liberals and union workers know the nightmare stories by now. With 38 un-legal delays and counting, the Affordable Care Act is a dead letter. What we need to saturate the airwaves with now is a discussion of the ALTERNATIVES to socialized medicine and to the inevitable resurgent leftist push for Single Payer.
The alternatives are, in no particular order:
- Promote competition across state lines.
- Eliminate the mandates
- Repeal the Obamacare taxes
- Boost Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
- Reform the tort liability casino (as Texas has done, very successfully).
Allow all medical expenses and premiums to be 100% tax deductible for everyone, independent of any employment relationship.
- Allow physicians to take a tax deduction or credit for services rendered pro bono.
- Eliminate government subsidies for unhealthy products like sugar, corn syrup and tobacco (yes, we still subsidize tobacco).
- Abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a.k.a. The Death Panel.
- Reform Medicaid to make it better than having no insurance at all, or pull the plug on it too.
- Honor the medical license. Doctors know medicine and their patients; Washington bureaucrats do not."