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."