Saturday, March 05, 2016
Ralston on Government and
Richard Ralston, Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, has written an article anyone interested in promoting a free market in medicine should become familiar with: "American Health Care: Essential Principles and 50 Common Fallacies." Here's a sample of Ralston's discussion of the moral foundations of a proper health care policy:
Across the entire political spectrum, altruism is the common element that clears the way for both the right and the left to devastate freedom and individualism. Socialists, welfare-state paternalists, Christian conservatives, public employee unions and politicians seeking to make their constituents dependent on them for all of their needs unite under the banner of altruism. There is no principle of political philosophy, no economic law, no proven efficiency of free markets or proven incompetence of government, no American value, that is not trumped by altruism. Any government action purporting to be a sacrifice for the good of others is generally sanctioned -- even when in fact the proposal will help kill those it is supposed to help while making life miserable for everyone else. That is why supporters of reason, freedom and individualism should always take altruism on directly.Ralston notes further, regarding specific policy development that:
Because the transition from the current regulated mess governments have created will be long and difficult, it is also necessary to take notice of not just the unprincipled and immoral foundations of the present corrupt system, but of the huge amount of misinformation in circulation about current needs and realities.I'll end by noting that Ralston soon after takes on the numerous fallacies about health care, starting with my "favorite," "The quality of health care in America is ranked lower than 36 other countries." The answers to this and the numerous others are succinct and get straight to the heart of the matter in every case.
In this context, while policy options must always refer back to correct principles, in any given instance it is the direction of policy that often should be considered. Is the direction more government controls, regulations, bureaucracy and spending, or less? If less, a proposed reform might be appropriate if it is not proposed in conjunction with regression to more government.
For example, the Medicare Prescription Drug legislation of 2003 was a horrible expansion of government health care -- the largest in 40 years. It did include a pitiful few helpful features such as the expansion of Health Savings Accounts and some paltry choices for private insurance options within Medicare. Neither of those features justified passage of the legislation. But now that we are burdened with the program, it is appropriate to build on those features to push in the direction of more private options in health care and to build a constituency for free markets. Exempting individual health care expenses from income tax is fine, but of course not ultimately a reason to maintain income taxes at all. We can take advantage of limited opportunities for progress on the road back to freedom in medicine only if our goals remain firmly rooted in the right principles.
"A bigot or a racist is someone who attributes moral or character qualities to things over which one has no choice." -- Michael Hurd, in "Opposing Islamic Bigotry Doesn't Make You a Bigot" at Newsmax
"Doctors and therapists can guide and support, but the addict is the one who must stop." -- Michael Hurd, in "Why Biological and Mental 'Illness' Are Not the Same" at The Delaware Wave
"[T]wo thirds of Palestinians in a recent poll expressed their support for the wave of [knife, gun, and vehicular attacks] attacks." -- Elan Journo, in "Culpability for Palestinian Aggression" at The Times of Israel
"Perversely the fiat dollar suits the gold bugs as well as it suits the Federal Reserve (though for different reasons). " -- Keith Weiner, in "Interest on Gold Is the New Tempest in a Teapot" at SNB & CHF
"A healthy and rational person cannot experience genuine happiness or self-esteem if popularity and social status are his or her primary motivations." -- Michael Hurd, in "So Is It WHAT You Know ... Or WHO You Know?" at The Delaware Coast Press
Bernie Trump -- or Donald Sanders?
Should the major parties nominate their respective worst candidates for the general election, we will have the non-choice of an avowed socialist who wants to turn America into Denmark and a de facto fascist who want to do the same:
Well, actually, the package Trump offers -- "save Social Security without cuts," a vaguely pro-single-payer position on health care, plus temporarily banning Muslims and walling off Mexico -- bears an eerie resemblance to the Danish government's current policy mix.Regarding what one pundit has called Trump's "hostile takeover of the Republican Party," that makes perfect sense in retrospect. The GOP has for decades professed allegiance to capitalism, while, at best only slowing down the Democrats -- but usually emulating them. It was really only a matter of time before someone saw this spinelessness and decided to take full advantage of it.
Like many American admirers of Scandinavian welfare states, Sanders lacks detailed knowledge of how those systems work, or an appreciation for certain cultural peculiarities that make cradle-to-grave welfarism politically sustainable there but not, so far, here.