The following is a reply to this comment that just grew too long. (Chris is a Canadian ex-pat living in the US)
I love this conversation. We very quickly got to the heart of the big libertarian question. I do not think that I will be able to answer it for you in this comment, but I hope I will get there at some point.
All I can do here and now is answering the easy questions and asking some difficult ones.
You used the magic word “protection” (why does this word remind me of Sandra Fluke??)
The problem with the word is that if you want to use it consistently, you will also have to ask:
Don’t we need protection from the weather? From Hunger? From ‘homelessness’? From shoelessness? That would really prevent the workforce from moving on a winter day! From debt? The possible consequences of unprotected sex? From obesity or from bad choices about our own life in general? I am sure you can see that there is no end to the list; the only question is how silly it can get. Just think of Sandra Fluke and Bloomberg with his soda-pop regulation to see that the stupidity is limitless. We cannot be protected from reality and we should not be protected from our own stupidity. We can and should ONLY be protected from each other, from causing each other harm. Why? To prevent people from resolving their conflicts with violence. We delegate power; we delegate the right to use force. This delegation of the right to use force trough the appointment of arbitrators is the very essence of civilization, what is in question is the best way to do it. The three functions mentioned are all about the second type of protection. Army, police and the justice system are all about protecting us from causing harm to each other.
But let’s get back to health care.
Health care is a private good that somebody has to pay for.
You don’t have to say, I know that this is also true for the police, justice and military. I’ll deal with that question another time.
The question for now is who should pay for it and how?
Getting the flue isn’t an unpredictable act of nature, and even if it was, isn’t it predictable that time to time we will be hit by ‘unpredictable’ acts of nature?
Although I don’t think anybody can put a hard number to it, I think we can agree that a significant portion of health problems are attributable to lifestyle choices.
I could have broken my clavicle in many ways, but doing it skiing on an icy double diamond run at the end of the day was a result of my choice.
Whether I smoke, drink, use drugs or eat like a pig will affect greatly the cost of my health care. Should we really expect those with a healthy lifestyle to subsidize the care of the rest of us, pigs? Should we really expect the responsible part of society to subsidize the irresponsible one?
William D. Gairdner’s book, “The Trouble with Canada …..Still!” (which I highly recommend) has a 46 page chapter on Canadian Health care often compared with the American system and with references to Obamacare as well. He quotes several studies quantifying the cost of lifestyle related illnesses.
We know that Americans as a whole spend 16% of their income on health care. Is there anything that stops any of them from setting aside 16% of their gross income for that purpose? Or to use the money to buy an insurance they like? (I take this question back. The state stops them from doing that through an incredible web of regulations and restrictions, but if that wasn’t there, the question would be valid.)
Again, the question in front of the US electorate at this point is NOT whether Americans need health care, but the question of how it should be provided and WHO SHOULD PAY FOR IT? What is the most effective and most equitable way to provide it? Should it be an individual or a collective responsibility?
Let me rephrase: Should it be an individual, social or governmental responsibility.
Republicans argue for a strange mix of first and third, I would argue for first and second, Democrats argue for exclusively third.
When it comes to socialized health care, there are three points we have to consider:
- The effect on the individual,
- The effect on the economy
- The effect on society
The effect on the individual
When you pass on your personal responsibilities to someone else (another person or entity such as the state), three things will happen:
- You lose some of your freedom
- You lose some of your morals
- You lose some of your humanity
(This is heavy. I will have to spend a lot of time on it. Later.)
When you delegate your decisions, you inevitably delegate rights. The more of your rights you delegate, the less you have. When the state decides what procedures you should or could have or how much you have to wait to get it, you are not very free, are you?
When you are expecting the state to rob somebody else and transfer the benefits onto you, can you call that moral? Whether you personally pay above or below the average does not really matter. By handing over the responsibility you implicitly condone the coerced redistribution, but also notice how the loudest advocates are those who definitely will benefit more than they contribute.
Losing your humanity is the most important implication.
Being human means making choices, decisions, occasionally stupid mistakes then learning from them and doing the whole thing over and over again. Choices, thinking, decisions, mistakes, corrections.
ANY amount taken away from you makes you that much less human. Think about this seriously.
I consider the right to be stupid the most basic human right as long as it is paired with the responsibility of living with the consequences of your stupidity. Why? Because this is what makes us grow, makes us better, makes us human. Taking responsibility for our own lives.
The effect on the economy
The fact that government run enterprises are poorly run, ineffective and unproductive; the fact that they are far more expensive and produce far lower quality is so obvious, so well-known that not even leftists would present it as an argument for their existence any more. They want government monopolies because they are more fair, more just, more universal, more caring and other touchy-feely baloney reasons. All of those reasons are wrong as well, but the point here is that nobody claims that they work better. What they claim is that the trade-off is worthwhile.
In government run systems there is:
- Less competition (higher prices)
- Less innovation (stagnation, no progress)
- Less service, less care, less concern for customer satisfaction.
(READ MY FIRST BLOG and look for an upcoming one explaining the evolution of socialized and monopolized services in general.)
Monopolies are not competitive, not innovative and they offer lousy service. A monopoly does not have to compete for your business.
All of the above will improve only under pressure from competition and all three will predictably deteriorate in a Monopoly.
The effect on society
The standard baloney coming from Democrats is that unlike their opponents, they care! Wouldn’t you like to live in a more caring society? I would, but then I have to ask what creates a caring society? I have to ask, what is a more caring society, the one I grew up in or the one I now live in? The answer is obviously the later although moving very fast in the wrong direction.
Ask yourself again: what makes a caring society? Wouldn’t the answer be caring people? But then you have to ask, what makes people caring? How do we learn to be caring if not through individual acts of kindness?
The so-called CARING SOCIETY is colossal sham! First, it is a lie. Their advocates mean ‘caring state’ not society. Big difference. The state cannot care, only people can.
Government services create:
- Moral hazards
- An alienated, disconnected citizenry
- General immorality
I will not get into moral hazards, Google it. As for the second and the third point, I would recommend the latest book of Charles Murray: Coming Apart (to get details and numbers)
If the state takes over the responsibility of being a moral actor then it deprives its citizens from exercising morality and therefore on the long run from even learning what moral actions are.
The tragedy of socialism (and the moral argument for it) is that it is a self-destructive contradiction. The state cannot be moral, only individuals and civil society can.
The only thing the state can achieve is enforced conformity and obedience. I cannot say enforced equality because that can never happen. In a statist society, some animals will always be more equal than others.
What is true for the ultimate end is also true for every step taken into that direction to the extent that it brings us toward that ultimate end.
Tell me Chris, Did I answer your question? J
I am not entirely happy with this post because I tried to say too much in it. You just have to keep following to get better answers.
why don’t you write a book of these posts?
There is nothing I would like more 🙂
I have been following your posts as closely as life allows me and am always interested by what you have to say, I keep meaning to comment on them especially the recent one you did on the election here in the US (I will keep that comment for another time).
So I had to read my comment and your answer to help get my thoughts straight again, and what I don’t understand is that you comment on how the ‘whole’ should not subsidize the individual who makes poor decisions. But isn’t that exactly what we do with private insurance? I’m subsidizing you right now so that when I need it in the future I can pull out of the pot? And in private insurance they charge more for those poor decisions, would you be happy if they had a fat tax? They already have a smokers tax and liquor tax does that make gov’t health care more palatable? And currently in Canada there are tax write-off’s for healthier choices, I guess where I am going here is if we looked at the money portion would not be ok for the gov’t to say they are an insurance provider or maybe we should do it like Medicare you pay your taxes and then pick one of several plans provided by gov’t or 3rd parties, this way we are involving the private sector (Economy and Society). Then we privatize the healthcare, but even then I believe you need a regulatory body, because if you look at current healthcare in the US it is insanely expensive, so where do we draw the line is it really as far over as you suggest or would a more moderate balance be more logical?
I realize that we still are taking choices away from the individual (Forcing them to have a plan at all), but I am trying to strike a compromise that is logical between the two extremes.
You talk about society and while I agree with your arguments I can’t help but point out that ‘Society’ no longer knows how to care because they have been following the state for to long. As an individual the best I think we can hope for is to shove them in the right direction and clean up the mess they make.
Again I’m not advocating for any current policy, but am trying to discuss and get my thoughts straight.