Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Socialized medicine - why would our outcome be any different?

From the National Center for Policy Analysis:

HEALTH FREEZES OVER

The London Telegraph is reporting that the doctors believe "smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations." The reason for the hard hearts in Britain: The government-run National Health Service (NHS) can no longer afford to provide free treatment for everyone.

So for Britons, health care rationing isn't just a threat, it's a reality, says Investor's Business Dailey (IBD):

The Telegraph says roughly one in 10 hospitals -- usually those with financial problems -- now deny some surgery to smokers and the obese.

* So that billions of dollars can be cut from the bloated NHS budget, they have ruled that some advanced treatments -- such as drug-coated stents used to prop open coronary arteries -- will not be available.
* Even worse, officials have begun to encourage Britons to turn to "self care" in lieu of physician visits.

On a moral level, the doctors have a point: Taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize care for those who make poor choices and then expect others to pay for their mistakes. But that's exactly what universal health care does, and that's one of its primary flaws. It promises people that they'll be cared for no matter what they do to themselves. When the consequences of bad behavior are eliminated, there's a strong incentive to behave badly.

The threat to cut benefits to the old and the unhealthy in Britain is a clear confirmation that health care can never be free. Someone has to pay for it, and those people in Great Britain are so stretched that they can't meet every demand, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Health Freezes Over," Investor's Business Daily, January 29, 2008.

Couple this 'policy' with the information in Jonah Goldberg's recent column, and you'll see a disturbing trend. After a litany of bans on everything from pit bulls, trans fats, aluminum baseball bats, candy cigarettes and the circus; proposals to mandate government control over the temperature on your thermostats; and 'no running' signs on playgrounds, Goldberg writes:

"Much of this, as Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum has long argued, stems from the "totalitarian" temptation inherent to seeing health care as a sub-category of politics and policy. When government picks up the tab for health costs, it inevitably feels it is responsible for curtailing them through "prevention," which can often elide into compulsion. As Faith Fitzgerald, a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, put it in the New England Journal of Medicine: "Both healthcare providers and the commonweal now have a vested interest in certain forms of behavior, previously considered a person's private business, if the behavior impairs a person's 'health.' Certain failures of self-care have become, in a sense, crimes against society, because society has to pay for their consequences."

But there's another factor at work as well. We are seeing a return to the idea - first championed by social planners in the progressive era - that government can and should play the role of parent. For instance, Michael Gerson, once a speechwriter for President Bush, advocates a new "heroic conservatism" - an updating of his former boss' compassionate conservatism - that would unleash a new era of statist regulations. On the stump, Hillary Clinton refers to her book, "It Takes a Village," in which she argued that we all must surrender ourselves to the near-constant prodding, monitoring, cajoling and scolding of the "helping professions." Clinton argues that children are born in "crisis" and government must respond with all the tools in its arsenal from the word go. She advocates putting television sets in all public gathering places so citizens can be treated to an endless loop of good parenting tutorials.

Mike Huckabee, who represents compassionate conservatism on steroids, favors a nationwide ban on public smoking. Everywhere, from Barack Obama to John McCain, we are told that our politics must be about causes "larger than ourselves." What we used to think of as individual freedom is now being recast as greedy and selfish.

Perhaps we should remember these words from Alexis de Tocqueville:

"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."

"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

10 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

And our beloved politicians can't help but run headlong into the flames of Socialism. . .

God help us.

Maggie Thurber said...

...and we let them!

shame on us.

Chuck Greer said...

Maggie,
thanks for quoting my 'main man' of the blogosphere, Jonah Goldberg.
I am halfway through his new best-seller "Liberal Fascism", which I very highly recommend, and addresses some of these same issues he writes about in this particular column in more detail. Also, I am a huge fan of the "Corner", the NRO blog, and would point folks in that direction as well.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

Isn't it interesting to see how the government can ask for health care for all in the name of compassion, then just as quickly turn this compassion off when it comes to non-social behaviours.

I just happen to be in the middle of wading through "Atlas Shrugged", and the parallels scare me. Ayn Rand may well end up becoming the new Nostradamus, unfortunately for all of us.

Maggie Thurber said...

Chuck - Goldberg has long been one of my favs...

Tim - Ayn Rand has a very valuable perspective. Too bad that those who need to hear the message in her books would never bother to read them...

Right Wing Toledo said...

Ohio has been headed down this path since Comrade Ted was elected Premier. (Remember his proposed regulation concerning hospital construction - the government decides what services should be available in your local community?)

The great hoax is, for the standard of care provided, what is the cost to the individual - not paid at the doctor, but collected by the tax man. To all of those who complain about the insurance companies wasting money, what do you think will happen when the *efficient* government takes control? Regulation of every aspect of our lives, including what restruants we can visit (please step on the McScale, and your menu will appear).

I can't wait to get healthcare from the same people that brought us the DMV

Chris said...

"Socialized medicine"---are the hospitals in England owned by the state, or are the docs paid by the state? Wouldn't this be the defintion of "socialized medicine"?

Do any of the Dems plans for universal healthcare include nationalizing all hospitals and medical facilities?

Personally, I am for a Medicare-for-all plan. This being said, I work in an industry that bills Medicare for services. And I can tell you--in my industry, the competition is cut-throat.

Maggie Thurber said...

Chris - in the broader sense of the idea, I look at socialized medicine as not just ownership but control.

What many here advocate is that the means of production remain in private hands, but with so many rules and regulations that there is no control outside that of the government. This, effectively, leaves ownership in private hands in name only.

There are a lot of people who think a Medicare-only plan would work.

I'd rather keep my money and pay it out myself than turn it over to the government so they can pay it out for me.

And, I'm still amazed that we want the government or our employer to provide us with medical insurance. We wouldn't want the government or our employers picking out our life insurance, car insurance, home insurance, etc...

These other insurances seem to work pretty well ... so if we're going to change the health insurance system, why not model it after the other insurances which are successful - rather than another government program which is going bankrupt?

Don't think it could hurt...

Chris said...

The gov't also insures our banks and markets. In fact, if you think of government's role as to protect it's citizens, you see it really already insures us in many ways with the military, police, fire protection, food safety, etc. This protection empowers it's citizens to seek greater capital unfettered.

As far as Medicare going broke, if we think of all the money private insurance companies waste on higher administration costs, paperwork, etc this would be enough to cover all Americans. Not to mention---let's face it, Medicare gets mismanaged and undermined when a certain breed of politician is in charge, because they do agree with the concept from an idealogical perspective.

Chris said...

My last sentence should have read, "they do NOT agree with the concept". Sorry

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