Socialized Medicine Ends Freedom

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007 10:38 am by Neal

Besides the fact that socialized medicine results in inferior technology, rationing of care, and fatal waiting limits, perhaps the biggest problem with a government-run health care scheme is that it substitutes a perception of safety for a real loss of freedom.

This may be fine for nanny-state Canadians and Europeans, but this is not the American way.

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
attributed to Benjamin Franklin

If a Democrat wins the Presidency in 2008 and successfully beguiles the American people to implement some form of Socialized medicine, Franklin’s quote will once again prove that when Freedom is sacrificed to Safety, both perish as a result.

Let’s consider a recent example from England’s ailing Socialized medicine bureaucracy, the NHS. This article, “NHS to Smoker With Fractured Ankle: Walk It Off” documents the plight of a man suffering from a broken ankle:

Here’s a story for anyone who imagines that government-run medicine will somehow do away with gatekeepers who deny suffering patients the treatment they need based on cold-hearted financial calculations: British doctors are refusing to perform surgery on a man with a multiply fractured ankle because he’s a smoker. “Doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro have refused to operate,” reports the Daily Mail, “because they say his heavy smoking would reduce the chance of healing, and there is a risk of complications which could lead to amputation.” But at least they’re willing to give him morphine for the agonizing pain caused by the injury they refuse to fix.

Michael Siegel explains the reasoning behind such decisions, quoting a commentary that appeared in the British Medical Journal:

Here’s the “reasoning” given by the British Medical Journal to justify this lack of treatment:

Increased use of hospital beds and associated costs mean less opportunity to treat other patients. Based on these data, five non-smokers could be operated on for the cost and bed use of four smokers and the non-smokers’ surgical outcomes would be better. A well informed smoker, unwilling or unable to quit, might assume an increased risk for himself, but the decision is not his alone when it can indirectly affect others. Then, the community must involve itself.

That last two sentences say it all: “the decision is not his alone…the community must involve itself.” But what is “the community?” It is simply an abstract term for “a number of individual people.” So, in England’s national health care system, health care is rationed such that individuals who have “an increased risk” are sacrificed because there is “less opportunity to treat other patients.”

In this case, the “increased risk” is blamed on an individual’s free choice to smoke. It logically follows that other personal choices such as excessive eating, drinking alcohol, lack of exercise, etc. could likewise create an “increased risk.”

It also logically follows that involuntary conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and an endless list of maladies could create an “increased risk” that results in an individual being denied care in order to ration it for “the community.”

Socialized medicine replaces the individual as the recipient of health care with the community. But since the community is simply a number of individual people, what does this really mean? Thankfully, Ayn Rand answered that question decisively in her 1963 essay Man’s Rights from the book the Virtue of Selfishness.

Since there is no such entity as “society,” since society is only a number of individual men, this meant, in practice, that the rulers of society were exempt from moral law…”the good is that which is good for society (or for the tribe, the race, the nation), and the ruler’s edicts are its voice on earth.”…

The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law.

All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself. The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary coexistence of individuals. All previous systems had held that man’s life belongs to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be revoked at any time. The United States held that man’s life is his by right (which means: by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights.

As we said at the beginning of this essay, “this may be fine for nanny-state Canadians and Europeans, but this is not the American way.”

Lastly, consider this article that we published one year ago, A Problem of Socialism. The brilliant economist Walter Williams makes the case that there’s no problem with individual freedom, the problem is Socialism.

Step back into the southchild time machine for a trip to August 21, 2002 with this great essay by economist and professor Walter Williams, “Whose business is it?”

Should the fact that if I become injured by not wearing a seatbelt or sick from eating and smoking too much, and become a burden on taxpayers, determine whether I’m free to not wear a seatbelt or puff cigarettes and gorge myself? Is there a problem with freedom? I say no, it’s a problem of socialism. There is absolutely no moral case for government’s taking another American’s earnings, through taxes, to care for me for any reason whatsoever. Doing so is simply a slightly less offensive form of slavery. Keep in mind that the essence of slavery is the forceful use of one person to serve the purposes or benefit of another.

Allowing government to be in the business of caring for people for any reason moves us farther down the road to serfdom. After all, if government is going to take care of us, it will assume it has a right to dictate how we live. Right now, the government has successfully attacked cigarette smokers. They are well on their way, with the help of crooked lawyers and judges, to doing the same thing to fast-food companies, soda manufacturers, candy-makers and other producers of foods deemed fattening or non-nutritious.

Hardly a day goes by where I don’t hear some fool argue for government control of individual lives since “it costs us all.” As Williams said so clearly, that’s not a problem of freedom, it’s a problem of socialism. Just Say No to socialized medicine, universal health care, and all the other euphemisms for government control of the healthcare of American citizens, and the regulation and control of our lives that will follow.

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