An Olive Branch Beating

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The New York Times editorializes that Barack Obama is holding out an "olive branch" to opponents of his plan to have the government dictate to us the terms by which some are to offer and others obtain medical care:

President Obama had a splendid idea this week. He challenged governors who oppose his health care reforms, most of whom are Republicans, to come up with a better alternative. He has agreed to move up the date at which states can offer their own solutions and thus opt out of requirements that they oppose, like the mandate that everyone buy health insurance and that most employers provide it.
That sounds almost like the man learned something last November -- until the other shoe drops a few short paragraphs later, and we learn that the President is lifting said branch in a threatening manner:
The catch is that a state's plan must cover as many people as the federal law does, provide insurance that is as comprehensive and affordable, and not increase the deficit.
Never mind that medical care would be cheaper and more widely available in a free economy, or that, under such circumstances, many people might still opt to go without health insurance. Patients are simply not to be free to decide what kind of coverage they will have (up to and including none), nor are we to be financially unburdened by the misfortunes or poor judgment of others. Disappointingly, Scott "41=0" Brown has supported a bipartisan bill to provide for exactly such a system of non-consensual medical experimentation on the American people.

Barack Obama's plan is immoral because it forcibly prevents people from acting on their own best judgment. So would any other plan whose aim it is to make everyone buy, in one guise or another, what someone else says he needs (or pay for what someone else allegedly needs). There is only one way the government can actually promote the general welfare: by protecting individual rights. But there are many ways it can harm the general welfare, and we will learn about as many as fifty new ones if this bill becomes law. Why?

Ayn Rand once said of final causation that it is "the process by which an end determines the means, i.e., the process of choosing a goal and taking the actions necessary to achieve it." Thus, Barack Obama and his allies, whether or not they don't know it or don't care, are setting a trap with an arbitrary metric for the public welfare (full medical insurance coverage, i.e., the end) replacing an objective metric (freedom for all to make rational decisions), and thereby setting the terms for the public debate.

Since there is no way to even put economic freedom on the table with full insurance coverage as the goal, passage of this bill would be a resounding defeat for anyone genuinely concerned about his health or the freedom he and his doctor need to be able to seek and obtain it. This is because some means -- always involving coercion against someone who is neither harming nor threatening to harm anyone else -- must be employed to achieve the end of universal coverage.

There is, perhaps, cause for guarded optimism, however: The editorial whines that House Republicans are "unlikely to pass the bill to let them try." Good: Fifty tyrannies are no better than one. I hope the House has a spine on this one and keeps it. The first step of the solution to America's "health care crisis" is to understand that universal coverage is not the proper goal, because universal coverage requires the universal threat of coercion to be illegitimately held over everyone's heads.

-- CAV

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