Editor’s note: One of the biggest topics facing Americans today is the issue of healthcare… and whether the government should play a role in providing it.
It’s unlikely this debate will fade away soon… as the coronavirus crisis continues to spread throughout the world and across America.
So in today’s Conversations With Casey, our founder Doug Casey addresses the question of whether the government should be involved in healthcare… and explains why our current system is essentially “criminal malpractice”…
Daily Dispatch: Previously, we discussed health, so I want to stay on that subject. In particular, I want to focus on a part of the health industry that I know interests you – or perhaps frustrates you, would be a better way to put it – regarding State involvement with healthcare, including socialized medicine.
One of the big talking points among Democratic candidates is their championing of more government involvement in healthcare. In your view, does that create more problems than it helps to prevent?
Doug Casey: Well, in the first place, don’t call it healthcare. That’s something you provide for yourself through proper diet, exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle. The State likes that term because it sounds friendly and positive; the average person wants to believe that “they” will somehow keep him in good health, for free. What they actually provide, at best, is medical care – which is about medicines and surgery, trauma and disease. Nobody wants to be reminded of those things. So don’t confuse it with healthcare.
Apart from that, only an idiot wants the State involved in medicine; socialized medicine is not the answer to health problems. In fact, it’s reasonable to say that it’s the cause of many of these problems. It reduces the efficiency of medical care to that of the Post Office, Amtrak, or your local DMV. The fact that US medical care is no better than, but between twice and 10 times the cost of similar care in, other places in the world is 100% the fault of the government’s laws and regulations.
Getting the State involved in medicine is criminal malpractice.
Daily Dispatch: Okay, but let us take the devil’s advocate view. Those in favor of socialized medicine say that there is a moral obligation for the government to provide a basic level of healthcare.
Doug Casey: Yes, I’m aware of that argument. But it’s grounded in ignorance. It’s not only destructive, but it’s immoral. Your body is your primary possession, and you’re responsible for your body, not society. Much in the same way as you’re responsible for your own clothes, car, and house. Society isn’t responsible for them – or shouldn’t be. If you’re not motivated to take care of your own body and it falls apart, that’s your problem. It’s not society’s problem or anybody else’s problem.
When people say that this is a moral issue or a moral obligation, they are right – but not in the way they think. It’s actually immoral to force someone to pay for another’s medical care. Nor is it morally right for a government to force a doctor or other health professional to sell his or her labor at a price decided by politicians or bureaucrats.
Many people are looking for the government to take care of these things. They idiotically think it’s free. But we know from both history and today’s experiences that governments not only can’t take care of things, they wind up poisoning whatever they touch. That’s to be expected. They’re based on coercion, and operated by people that believe in coercion.
Daily Dispatch: So, put these things in the hands of entrepreneurs and scientists, as long as it’s done without government meddling, right?
Doug Casey: When it comes to medical care, and curing things like the coronavirus, I would much rather rely on entrepreneurial biochemists, who are motivated by profit, than salaried drones working nine to five at a government desk job.
Actually, everything’s upside down in all of this. People are looking to the State, not science, to solve the problem. But State intervention in medicine is a major part of the problem. The FDA, for instance, probably kills more people every year than the Department of Defense does in a typical decade. Why? Because it delays the use of drugs, devices, and procedures by years, and raises their costs by billions.
From that point of view, we live in the worst of all possible worlds. But the good news is that, notwithstanding, science keeps advancing and things keep getting better.
Daily Dispatch: Staying on the topic of socialized medicine, a few years ago, former Congressman Ron Paul said up until the 1960s, only a small percentage of US medical care was funded directly or indirectly by the government. If people needed medical care, they would use a church-funded service, or a service funded by a local organization. Now, it’s a much larger amount with the various programs in place. What’s your take on how medical care has changed?
Doug Casey: That’s absolutely correct. A lot of this has to do with the moral risks involved, which have also changed over time. In those days, if somebody needed medical or financial help, there wasn’t a government bureaucracy to kiss it and make it better. You’d go to your local church, Optimist Club, Rotary, or some other beneficial organization. There used to be hundreds of them, but now they’re mostly gone. Their raison d’etre disappeared with welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, and the like. They tended to sort people out as to whether they were actually deserving or not, and only gave help as long as it was needed.
That’s a completely different structure than what we have today. Today, the government hands over money and assistance regardless of genuine need, which means the system is rife with abuse. Worse, the government’s involvement has totally destroyed the functions of private charitable organizations.
In addition to that, I would make the point that, if you don’t have the money to pay for your own medical expenses, maybe that means that you’re not a productive person. And if you’re not a productive person, why should other people be forced to keep you alive?
I think it’s actually immoral to force others to keep mooches, slackers, and other unproductive people alive on general principles. Justice is about people getting what they deserve. If you’re a foolish grasshopper, don’t save money, and don’t take care of your body, whose fault is it? If you then want to force other people to bail you out, that is both immoral and unjust. People should get what they deserve.
Everybody dies eventually. Nobody gets out of here alive. Although, I hasten to add, it won’t be long before science is able to extend the human lifespan almost indefinitely.
Daily Dispatch: And for those who genuinely can’t help themselves, or who are in a bad position that is not necessarily of their own making?
Doug Casey: That’s where the charitable organizations would help. It’s up to voluntary organizations to dispense donations wisely. If an organization was profligate allocating funds, donors would think twice before donating again. A totally different situation from government taking money in compulsory taxes, then frittering it on political whim to the undeserving.
As I said, this is much more a moral question than just a question of efficiency or economics. The morality question is: Does the State have a right to hold a gun to your head to make you pay for someone else’s bad luck or bad habits?
But governments and bureaucrats don’t see it that way. They see tax money as theirs to spend as they see fit, not according to the desire of its producers, what’s efficient, or what is morally correct.
Daily Dispatch: Well put. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts today, Doug.
Doug Casey: My pleasure.