Humanizing the "Forgotten Man"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I wasn't planning to post today, but I just read Paul Hsieh's superb Pajamas Media column against socialized medicine, and must stop what I am doing to recommend it.

Here is just a sample:

Finally, physicians are concerned that universal health care will compromise their ability to practice according to their own best judgment and conscience.

President Obama's "stimulus package" included $1 billion for "comparative effectiveness research" in health care. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard professor Martin Feldstein noted that the government's eventual goal is to use this research to cut costs and ration medical care by "implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt" and by "directly targeting individual providers ... (and other) high-end outliers."

In other words, your doctor would be rewarded if he practiced according to federal guidelines and punished if he strayed too far from them. Such guidelines must necessarily be based on statistical averages that cannot take into account specific facts of individual patients. But good physicians must consider precisely these specifics when treating their patients.

If you have abdominal pain due to gallstones, who should decide whether medication or surgery would be "most effective" for you? The doctor who felt your abdomen, heard your heart murmur, saw your ultrasound, and knows your drug allergies? Or the bureaucrat who got his job by telling the right joke to the right person at the right Washington cocktail party?
Too many Americans, in large part because of generations of populist class warfare campaigns, see doctors, not as fellow human beings who have to work for a living, but as stingy, elitist opportunists who arbitrarily withhold a vital service in between rounds of golf.

Hsieh's column calmly and methodically eviscerates that myth and the unjust moral evaluation that goes along with it, while at the same time showing how Barack Obama's egalitarian campaign to impose slavery on physicians would, if successful, ruin our prospects of getting good medical care.

Obama and other pro-slavery politicians can get away with this only so long as all most people can see is the golf -- but not the difficult decision process inherent in the job, or the frustration of dealing with bureaucrats, or the poor morale Hsieh points out.

Collectivists of all stripes often take advantage of demonization by stereotype to make oppression of one group or another possible, but they cannot get away with it when a column like this walks the reader through the mind experiment of walking a mile in the other person's moccasins.

If I mentioned Paul Hsieh's work as much here as it deserved, I'd barely write about anything else. Go read the whole thing now, and tell others about it.

-- CAV


Paul Hsieh said...

Thanks for promoting my article!

Gus Van Horn said...

My pleasure.

Thanks again, for writing it.