* Thomas Sowell, one of my all-time favorites, has a (currently) four-part series called "Whose Medical Decisions?" which are a must-read for anyone who'd like a fresh perspective on the health care bill components currently being considered by Congress.
His first one emphasizes what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama's own "Special Advisor for Health Policy," has to say about the type of medical care Americans get and how a government-run program will end up rationing care:
Americans also have more of what the article calls "amenities" with their medical care. "Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy, comfort and auxiliary services than do hospital rooms in most other countries."
In other words, it is not quantity but quality that is different — and more expensive — about American medical care. This is what Dr. Emanuel's "over-utilization" consists of.
At one time, it would have been none of Dr. Emanuel's business if your physician prescribed the latest medications for you, rather than the cheaper and obsolete medications they replaced. It would have been none of his business if you preferred to have a nice hospital room with "amenities" rather than being in an unsanitary ward with inadequate nursing care, as under the National Health Service in Britain.
The involvement of government gives Dr. Emanuel the leverage to condemn other Americans' choices — and a larger involvement of government will give him the power to force both doctors and patients to change their choices.
His second one explains why it is important that you get to decide how to spend your own money, regardless of how 'society' (meaning politicians) thinks you should spend it - especially when it comes to your health care. He also makes a distinction between 'health' care and 'medical' care - which is rather important when it comes to the legislation.
His Part III column points out Congress's 'bait and switch' - saying the legislation is supposedly to address the 'millions' of Americans who don't have health insurance, but the actual language in the bill has "nothing whatever to do with insuring the uninsured — and everything to do with taking medical decisions out of the hands of doctors and their patients, and transferring those decisions to Washington bureaucrats." He also points out the overlooked fact that many people without insurance can afford it, but choose a different priority for the money - a priority Congress doesn't like and wants to control.
His Part IV urges us to really think not only about the legislation, but about the mindset that leads to such rules, regulations and elimination of our freedom.
What we also should stop to think about is the mindset behind this legislation, which is very consistent with the mindset behind other policies of this administration, whether the particular issue is bailing out General Motors, telling banks who to lend to or appointing "czars" to tell all sorts of people in many walks of life what they can and cannot do.
The idea that government officials can play God from Washington is not a new idea, but it is an idea that is being pushed with new audacity.
Take the time to read the entire columns - it's well worth it.
* I remember reading an article once about how political decisions overrode medical/scientific ones when the issue of AIDS and H.I.V.-infection first became known. I've looked for the article, but cannot find it on line. However, the premise was that standard or routine medical protocols for treating an infectious disease were not implemented in the early days of knowledge of the disease because of political considerations having to do with the gay community and many of the civil rights issues they were bringing forward at the time. Even the original name given the illness - Gay-Related Immune Disease (GRID) - was changed to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) to address some of these political concerns as well as the spread of the disease among intravenous drug users and hemophiliacs who'd received blood transfusions.
As I remember it, the concern of the article was that a push to make the disease seem more mainstream than it really was prevented a reduction in the spread of the disease because it focused efforts on reducing the stigma of associating the illness with the homosexual lifestyle.
I couldn't help but recall this perspective on the disease as I read this article about potentially requiring circumcision for all baby boys to reduce the risk of H.I.V., even though "the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men."
I suggest you read the news story for more details on the issue.
* Two quotes to remember when it comes to freedom:
"Whatever the individual motives of the censors may be, censorship is a form of social control. It is a means of holding a society together, of arresting the flux which censors fear. And since the fear cannot be appeased, the demands for censorship mount in volume and intensity. And one form of censorship can easily lead to other forms." ~ Carey McWilliams
"As Hitler showed us, a press suppressed does not make a recovery. As Lenin indicated, a press controlled does not revert to a critic’s role. As history reminds us, free speech surrendered is rarely recovered." ~ William J. Small