An Anecdote on Health Care

by Don Boudreaux on June 28, 2007

in Health, Reality Is Not Optional

My family and I are in France.  Yesterday we visited, near Arles, the parents of some friends.  These lovely people have a newly acquired dog, Tor.  They came to own Tor because of the unfortunate death of their 60-year-old neighbor, whose dog Tor was.

Conversation at lunch revealed that the neighbor, who had a history of heart trouble, suffered severe chest pains a few weeks ago.  He wisely went to the hospital seeking treatment.  He was told that there was no space available for him.  He was advised to go home and call back later to see if a room might have become available.  He did so, but was told repeatedly that the hospital remained full to capacity.  Several days later this man died at home, never having received hospital treatment.

This incident, while true, is also an anecdote.  It doesn’t prove anything about the merits or demerits of France’s universal-health-care system compared to those of the (still somewhat) private system in the U.S.  But this sad event does reveal that merely declaring, statutorily, that every citizen has a right to health care, or that health care is "free" to every citizen, does not make health care available to all or "free."

Secular priests performing
ceremonies, beneath marble domes, in which health-care is declared "a
universal right" do not, in fact, perform the miracle of making
health-care universally available.

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{ 49 comments }

The Cynical Libertarian June 28, 2007 at 7:59 am

There was a story here in the UK a while back about an eldery, working class couple who had worked and paid their taxes their entire lives. Unfortunately, they both developed some kind of eye complication and, without treatment, would both go blind. The National Health Service told them that they could only offer treatment to one of them – not having the money (despite being the best funded health system in the world, I believe) to do two operations.

The husband, obviously, elected that he would be the one to go blind. However, at the last minute the NHS managed to have his wife operated on privately, and the husband would go to them. Unfortunately, while in hospital the husband contracted a virus from the filthy conditions and was kept for weeks in a ward meant to keep patients for no longer than six days. He was eventually found lying on a gurney in a corridor, alone, in his own feces, not having seen a nurse or doctor for days. Unsuprisingly, he died.

Michael Moore did not feature him in his latest 'movie'.

neal June 28, 2007 at 8:32 am

Remember the PJ O'Rourke line: If you think health care is expensive now…wait until it's free.

Yanick June 28, 2007 at 8:40 am

Don,

You should come visit us in Canada, you'll have plenty of anecdotes like this.

Don June 28, 2007 at 9:05 am

Exactly, and as any doctor will tell you, for certain illnesses, delayed care is no care at all. Immediacy is sometimes the essence of care. Rationing via waiting times is inconsistent with responsible care.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 9:23 am

I have plenty of bad anecdotes from my own experience as a patient in socialized medicine. Anecdotes prove nothing. But when you look at the statistics, the picture gets only more grim. Survival rates for cancer patients are lower than in the US, people die on wait lists, hospital conditions are disgusting, bureaucrats decide what medical care won't even be made available (at any price) and what will.

Just this morning, the Wall Street Journal ran this OpEd about Socialized medicine this morning.

Waiting lists for non-elective, life-saving care are the norm. As the article and the Supreme Court of Canada say, "access to wait lists is not access to care." Whatever people's complaints about the the private insurance system, they at least have the option to opt out. You lose that option in socialized medicine and you STILL have to purchase private insurance or be rich enough to pay out of pocket to actually get care.

Personally, I don't think socialized medicine has anything to do with providing access for the 20 million or so citizens (plenty of whom have simply opted out). It has a lot more to do with centralizing and growing the power of government. As with public schools, politicians will force those too poor to buy private insurance to die on wait lists but they will not be sending their kids for care in universal healthcare facilities.

This is a website which has links to articles about socialized medicine from countries which have socialized medicine. See what they really think of it.

trumpetbob15 June 28, 2007 at 9:39 am

Anecdotes specifically may mean and prove nothing. But when politicians and bureaucrats talk about how great "free" health care is and how everyone gets treated, anecdotes prove them wrong. Even one problem with overcrowding proves the system is screwed up. I accept that the American system may not be perfect; however, it also never claims to be. So when a socialized system that is promoted as everyone has a right to health care ends up ignoring a sick person, however statistically insignificant the incident may be, it still proves the system is a lie and that it is not perfect.

Sam Grove June 28, 2007 at 10:11 am

The claim that government provided health care is free is a gross misrepresentation.
Everyone pays…and pays.
Even those who make no tax payments are made poorer by any taxpayer supported system.
Any government managed system becomes a jobs program.

muirgeo June 28, 2007 at 10:20 am

And yet the average Frenchmen will live 1.8 years longer then the average American while spending as much as $2,000 to $3,000 LESS per year on healthcare.

Now ask how many Frenchmen went bankrupt do to health care cost as they are a leading cause of bankruptcy here in America.

No better example then American health care system illustrates the potential for failure of markets.

Chris June 28, 2007 at 10:39 am

muirgeo –

Given the choice, I'd rather be a bankrupt American than a dead Frenchman.

Two points:

Assuming your numbers are accurate, it's quite likely that the difference in life expectancies is attributable to something other than the health care system. For example, the French might exercise, eat better food or just have better genes.

Second, I would be interested in seeing the life expectancy of, say, a 30-year-old male. One of the things dragging down life expectancy in the US is infant death related to premature birth or multiple births from in-vitro fertilization. Without modern healthcare, those babies would never have made it far enough to die and be counted in that statistic.

smilerz June 28, 2007 at 10:46 am

muirgeo – Do those number include the tax rates that the French pay?

Jon June 28, 2007 at 10:53 am

I love his post, thanks Dr. Boudreaux.

I use the following analogy:

Let's say that the government wanted to give everyone access to a Ferrari. ANyone who wanted a Ferrari would get one for free on taxpayer dime, and those that don't want one are still stuck paying for everyone else who does want one.

Now what do you think will happen to the demand for Ferraris in the US if everyone who wants one will have the Governemtn to pay for it? Of course it would skyrocket.

Now do you think that the Ferrari plants in Italy will be able to keep up with the demand? I think not; so some people have to do without. Those that get care will have proper political connections and we get as Hayek caled it a "new hierarchy".

Objectivist June 28, 2007 at 10:59 am

Imagine how great the US health care system would be if we didn't have medicare and medicaid to ration care? It would be much better. Get rid of the government subsidies, get rid of employer fringe benefits. People should pay for their own health care. Then they will be responsible adults and take preventive measures themselves, and won't end up in the hospital all the time.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 11:40 am

"And yet the average Frenchmen will live 1.8 years longer then the average American"

Lying with statistics. I love it.

What Muirgeo conveniently forgets to tell you is that the populations are not ethnically comparable. Of course, as a doctor, Muirgeo knows that there are cultural and genetic differences that effect life expectancy.

The reality is that when you compare ethnically similar populations in Europe and the United States THE DIFFERENCE IN LIFE EXPECTENCY IS A COUPLE OF MONTHS.

Hardly statistically significant.

PoorBut Proud June 28, 2007 at 11:42 am

If socialized medicine is so horrible and takes so much and gives so little, then why is it that EVERY single industrialized nation (except for the US) has such a system in place? Are they just commies, or what?
Isnt it embarassing to any of you that places like Cuba care more for their people than the US, the richest country on earth? What does money really mean when people are suffering and have to choose between eating and getting that naty cough looked at. Would you really have us die in the streets so you can pay less in taxes?

ayn ryann June 28, 2007 at 11:49 am

"Would you really have us die in the streets so you can pay less in taxes?"

Yes,if you had properly planned your life in the first place I would not be forced into a position of having to help you out.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 12:04 pm

"while spending as much as $2,000 to $3,000 LESS per year on healthcare."

They pay less for healthcare and they get even less actual healthcare.

Life-saving cancer drugs are available ONLY if the government can negotiate a price cap it likes. If not, the drug is banned from the market, unavailable at ANY price. Of course, the politicians and the wealthy can get it in the US market. The rest of the population….so what? Drugs that ARE made available take almost twice as long to approve than in the US (because of price haggling) and when they are approved at the agreed upon price cap, shortages keep large numbers of patients from actually getting the drugs.

And that, kids, is how the five year survival rate for breast cancer caught early runs 78% in the UK and 98% in the USA.

Muirgeo is right, though. MOST people in Europe don't go bankrupt trying to cover healthcare costs. They just die. That's better, right?

David Seymour June 28, 2007 at 12:14 pm

Just out of interest, what sort of system exists for dogs in France? Is it a 'system' of private vets and if so would Tor the dog have had a better chance than his owner?

muirgeo June 28, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Ayn,

As a pediatrician I used to feel that way too. When my career started I despised the welfare mom for her careless family and life planning. But I found it harder and harder to blame her child. And as my career went on I often saw these same children grow up to be like their mothers. Not through fault of character or genes but simply a victim of circumstance with far less chance to "porperly plan their lives" as you say. Truly there is a viscous cycle of ignorance and poverty that we as a society can and must attempt to diminish. Certainly the free market era's of Charles Dickens day did nothing to resolve the cycle. A properly planned democracy can well do better and indeed has done so since FDR.

Jon June 28, 2007 at 12:27 pm

"MOST people in Europe don't go bankrupt trying to cover healthcare costs. They just die. That's better, right?"

Death in service to the state is a magnificent end. [/dripping sarcasm]

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 12:29 pm

“If socialized medicine is so horrible and takes so much and gives so little, then why is it that EVERY single industrialized nation (except for the US) has such a system in place?”

Because they’re dumb socialists who thought that it would actually work. After watching their family members die, they’re not so keen on it. Almost every single one of those countries is undergoing privatization reforms and moving away from socialized medicine. That’s what they think of their healthcare systems in practice.

“Are they just commies, or what?”

How would you read this statement from a French doctor in Michael Moore’s movie: “You pay according to your ability and you receive according to your need”. I think the man is telling you the answer to your question is “yes”.

“Isnt it embarassing to any of you that places like Cuba care more for their people than the US, the richest country on earth?”

Have you lost your mind? Cuba has the same closed medical system as the Soviet Union did. The elites and foreigners have access to what we consider standard medicine here. The rest of the Cubans don’t have access to basic medicine like bandages and aspirin. For the details of the Cuban medical system, checkout this article or this article, written by Cubans. I happen to have spent four years in and out of hospital in a system exactly like this. I have four years of anecdotes to make your blood run cold. We still can’t figure out some of the scars on my body.

?What does money really mean when people are suffering and have to choose between eating and getting that naty cough looked at.”

That’s why we have free clinics and Medicaid. Don’t like waiting in line and think those clinics are filthy? Get used to it, Amigo. It’ll be like that for everyone if we have socialized medicine.

Let me ask you a question, though. What does taking care of yourself really mean when you can just force someone else to pay for your treatments?

“Would you really have us die in the streets so you can pay less in taxes?”

No. We’ll pay more taxes, give less to the charities that support you AND you’ll die in the streets anyway. Check out the articles I provided links to find out how well those systems are really working for people who can’t afford to pay out of pocket.

So, to answer your question – NO, I’m not at all embarrassed that we don’t have a socialist system that compels heart patients to wait two years to get surgery. Unlike Italy, ranked #2 in healthcare, behind France, by the UN, Doctors Without Borders doesn’t make any trips here to provide basic care to people who have no access to any kind of medicine. But, I’m told, they ARE on a wait list to receive Italian care.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 12:34 pm

"A properly planned democracy can well do better and indeed has done so since FDR."

A PROPERLY PLANNED democracy.

Everybody got that?

Jon June 28, 2007 at 12:38 pm

What this comes down to is an issue, not of life and morality, but of rights.

People who purport a program of socialized medical care believe that they and anyone else "in need" has a right to my person, my mind, my life, my labor, and … my paycheck.

Does anyone else think that's a little … screwed up?

Chris June 28, 2007 at 12:50 pm

PoorbutProud –

If Cuba were that great of a place to live, we would have boat people leaving Miami for Havana, not going the opposite direction.

For an understanding of why so many countries have developed horrible healthcare policies, listen to this week's Econtalk podcast. In general, it's because their citizens didn't understand the negative effects of government control at the time they adopted their systems. Plus, the wealthy in those countries always have the option of going to the US for their healthcare, which diminishes some of the negative effects.

Jon June 28, 2007 at 12:58 pm

"Plus, the wealthy in those countries always have the option of going to the US for their healthcare, which diminishes some of the negative effects."

Or it at least diminishes the amount that those people fight the incoming socialiation of the medical industry.

Jon June 28, 2007 at 1:02 pm

"To add to this the majority of Americans think the government should provide health care. Wish more stories like yours would get out."

HERE HERE!

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 1:08 pm

First, Muirgeo attempts to feed us lies with statistics. I'm shocked she hasn't tried to compare the infant mortality rate between the Dickinsonian US and egalitarian Cuba.

When her lies were revealed, she changed to pulling on our heartstrings. “We need socialized medicine because now that the New Deal and The Great Society projects have created an entire population of dependents who can’t wipe their own ass, we have to take care of them.”

How about this for a solution: Give the minority of the population too poor to buy insurance a VOUCHER to purchase private insurance. I’d rather pick up the tab to get those kids healthcare than pick up the tab for them to die on a wait list to even see a doctor.

But if you want to go toe to toe on sob stories about kids, I bet I can win any day:

When I was a kid in Moscow, I had severe asthma . I was out with my mother one day when I had a severe attack that the puffer didn’t help. She grabbed me and hopped on public transport (you’ll wait two hours for an ambulance). By the time she ran into the hospital carrying me, I was barely breathing and she was screaming for help. A disinterested nurse ordered her to a small room and closed the steel door. Shortly after that, I started turning blue and my mother could not detect any breathing. Panicked, she ran for the door. IT WAS LOCKED from the outside. She banged on the door and screamed “my child is dying. She’s not breathing. HELP! Let me out!” The nurse opened the small peep door and said “shut up or I’ll leave you in there all day.” My mother grabbed a chair, threw it through the window and ran to another wing of the hospital. I had to be resuscitated, I had stopped breathing and the doctor told my mother that I had reached a stage known as “clinical death” before they revived me.

Unfortunately, I have a very good and long memory. When I was four, I had an adenoidectomy. Nobody told me what was going on before hand. I woke up during the surgery to find myself blindfolded and in an operating theatre. Under the blind-fold I saw a bloody scalpel. Confused and in pain, I began to protest. The nurse asked the surgeon if she should give me more anesthesia. “No,” said the doctor. It was rationed. The rest of the surgery was performed with no additional anesthesia. Of course, I urinated all over the operating chair and the nurse berated me for being a horrible, undisciplined child who ruined her operating chair while she rolled me back to the ward for recovery.

Here’s the kicker. My family was not ordinary. We were well connected. An uncle was a prominent, high-ranking military surgeon who got me access to care ordinary Russians couldn’t even dream of. What I described happened in the better hospitals and I have DOZENS of these anecdotes.

Name ONE incident that even begins to come close to that in the United States. Name ONE hospital that will not immediately attend to a child on the brink of death – insured or not. ONE child who had to be resuscitated 7 times before the age of 6 because care was slow to arrive.

muirgeo June 28, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Does anyone else think that's a little … screwed up?

Posted by: Jon

No it's called democracy…we fought a revolution over the principle of self government.

PatrickR June 28, 2007 at 1:19 pm

More 'free' health care anecdotes from Russia:

When Karen Papiyants lost his leg in a road accident last year, his medical nightmare was only beginning.

Although, like any Russian, he was entitled to free treatment, he says the doctors strongly suggested he pay $4,500 into their St. Petersburg hospital's bank account, or be deprived of proper care — and perhaps not even survive.

Faced with that choice, the 37-year-old truck driver's relatives scrambled to scrape together the money. But Papiyants said that did not stop the nursing staff from leaving him unattended for most of the night and giving him painkillers only after he screamed in agony.

"It's nothing but blackmail and extortion on the part of doctors," Papiyants said.

scott clark June 28, 2007 at 1:20 pm

muirgeo,

Be careful what you wish for. I once sat in a public policy class, at GMU no less, about health policy, and one student suggested, "we should force doctors to volunteer 10 hours or so of their time to work for free." After she said that, if we had taken a vote, I'll bet that policy would have had the majority support. I was the only one who pointed out that forcing someone to volunteer was quite the contradiction, and that she was proposing to make slaves of doctors just because they had spent time and money to acquire medical knowledge. That's the results you may be looking at if you leave these things to democracy.

ayn ryann June 28, 2007 at 1:23 pm

“Isnt it embarassing to any of you that places like Cuba care more for their people than the US, the richest country on earth?”

No I am not embarassed it simply is. Call it a form of social darwinism. The poor will find a means to survive or die. The only down side is after several generations they [the poor] will evolve into a much tougher and dangerous subset.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 1:23 pm

"No it's called democracy…we fought a revolution over the principle of self government."

Democracy is no insurance against tyranny. The revolution was as much about shaking off tyrannical rule as it was about self-rule.

What you want is from a different revolution – the communist revolution. Where bolsheviks fought for the right to PROPERLY PLAN and egalitarian society where everyone had equal access to poverty.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Patrick,

I forgot about the bribes. The ambulance would arrive (after a while) but the MT's (who were usually half drunk) refused to do anything until a bribe was paid. Doctors refused to perform any medical procedures until they also received a bribe. Thank God my dad's job took him abroad and he could smuggle in REALLY good stuff to bribe the docs with.

Aaaah….egalitarianism is just grand.

But to be fair, you don't have to bribe doctors in Western Europe's socialist system to receive what is considered standard medical care in the US. You just have to pay them in Euros.

Randy June 28, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Some great posts, Methinks. And a great catch on "A PROPERLY PLANNED democracy."

save_the_rustbelt June 28, 2007 at 2:40 pm

Don and I agree on this, for a change.

But Britain has much better horror stories, including the rationing of pain medicine.

As one British urologist told me, anyone who gets kidney stones at the end of the quarter is in deep trouble, because the Demorol ration is probably exhausted.

muirgeo June 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm

There really is no significant difference in health care outcomes between us and the other 30 developed nations who have national health care plans with regards to outcomes anecdotal horror stories not withstanding. The main difference is that in those other countries employers often our relieved of providing coverage and thus have an advantage over US employers. Likewise they spend about 8% of their GDP on health care while we spend 15% and rising. Most of the difference goes to CEO's and administrators who are experts at figuring out how to deny care and add nothing to the quality of US health care.

For the life of me I can't figure out what form of government you people want.

Democracy works best if everyone is well educated and has equal oppurtunity under the law. You all want social darwinism which doesn't work well with democracy because you get a large uneducated class voting against your free markets and other rational policies.

The average free marketeer would IMO be more effective in insisting on well run programs rather then see-sawing back and for from good funding to poor funding with each administration.

Marcus June 28, 2007 at 3:18 pm

"Now ask how many Frenchmen went bankrupt do to health care cost as they are a leading cause of bankruptcy here in America."

This is a lie endlessly perpetuated by the left. Losing your job is the leading cause of bankruptcy.

During bankruptcy, if any bill being bankrupted is related to health care, no matter how small, the left spin-masters declare the bankruptcy as being caused by health-care costs.

So, if you have a $200,000 mortgage, $30,000 car loan, $10,000 in credit card debt and $1,000 in outstanding medical bills and lose your job your bankruptcy, according to the left, was caused by the health-care expenses.

Of course, when they're chastising mortgage lenders' lending practices then all we hear about is how predatory mortgage lending is the leading cause of bankruptcy.

Apparently, the leading cause of bankruptcy is whatever their cause of the day is.

Jon June 28, 2007 at 3:20 pm

"No it's called democracy…we fought a revolution over the principle of self government."

I don't think that my forefathers bled and died so that I could be come a slave in everything but name only to those "in need".

I'm fighting for the right to my own work, labor, and property. Is there really any difference? Why should I work for the benefit of another, who I don't want to work for? Because people who think of themselves as "more enlightened" or worse … "more moral".

I think it is C.S. Lewis who is quotedas saying: Earth is so often made a hell by men wishing to make it heaven.

muirgeo June 28, 2007 at 3:25 pm

What you want is from a different revolution – the communist revolution.

Posted by: Methinks

I say I want democracy and you tell me I'm asking for communism. Please tell me what form of government you want. It would appear either anarchy or aristocracy?…maybe a fascist dictatorship? Multinational Corporate rule? A betters society? Mad Max? Blade Runner? Pottersville?

Make no mistake I want democracy. But please what do you want? I'm really curious.

Randy June 28, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Muirgeo,

My guess is that we spend more on health care because such a large percentage of our pay is provided in the form of health care benefits. Perhaps the difference in the 15% and the 8% is simply that the government programs effectively limit how much people are allowed to spend on healthcare. Ideally then, the best approach would be to pay wages in cash, and allow people to decide for themselves how they want to spend it. I imagine, for example, a 75 year old who has a choice to make between spending $75K on some type of surgury which might or might not extend his life by a couple of years, or to leave it to his children, or to take that round the world trip he has never quite taken. If paid in cash the choice is not certain. If paid in healthcare benefits the choice is very certain. And if paid in healthcare benefits by a government that makes the decision for you, then you're going on a list – a long list.

muirgeo June 28, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Jon,

I met a hunter the other day who shot a bear. He told me he killed a bear. I told him no you did not kill a bear. The bear was killed by the miners who dug the gun power, the iron ore and the lead. The bear was killed by the smelter who made the steel for your gun, the engineer who designed it, the inventor who discovered gun powder, the factory worker who assembled it and many many others who worked past and present to kill that bear.

Until you understand this Jon you will keep believing the Randian fallicy that you are a self made independent man and no one else is deserving of your toil.

Lee Kelly June 28, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Here's a question: what happened before coercive healthcare?

Oh, that's right, people joined Freindly Societies, gave to charity and looked out for each other. By the late 19th Century about 90% of the population was covered by this private insurance system, and that is not accounting for closer family ties and the informal insurance that encourages.

I would bet that coercively funded healthcare has had a lot to do with the breakdown of family and communities, since it divorces people from these informal reciprocal insurance systems which bind communities.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 4:26 pm

"I say I want democracy and you tell me I'm asking for communism."

Well, the problem is that what you call democracy is actually closer to how Karl Marx described communism.

In Karl Marx's communism, the collective was supposed to CHOOSE its own leaders who were to properly plan the economy and construct a "defnite social plan" (Marx, "Capital", Vol.I, p.52)

Marx and Engels proposed collective control of the means of production and distribution of the output of production via a central body, chosen by the collective.

But it's not necessary to take direct control of the means of production. Government is the agent of "society". It’s not necessary to take physical possession of the means of production. Regulation of industry works just as well as a way to control the means of production. Regulations decide who does business in what industry and under what circumstances – the difference between indirect control and control is minimal. What you propose is using our democracy to seize the output of our production via taxes and to spend it according to a plan which decides who gets what (e.g. housing, food, healthcare, etc.). In other words, as you put it, "a properly planned economy" where everyone gets what they need and the people who make more money pay more. Marx put it this way: "from each according to his ability to each according to his need".

You want to use our democracy to give central planners in government the ability to arbitrarily decide the "to each" and "from each" part of the "from each according to his ability to each according to his need." and then force people to comply with the plan.

That's pretty much Marxian communism/socialism.

Marcus June 28, 2007 at 4:26 pm

"Until you understand this Jon you will keep believing the Randian fallicy that you are a self made independent man and no one else is deserving of your toil"

The free-market is, in fact, about voluntary cooperation. To paraphrase Adam Smith, the farmer does not grow food for your table out of a sense of charity. You and the farmer are voluntarily cooperating with one another because you both have something the other wants.

Likewise, the miner didn't mine the ore to make the gun simply so your friend could enjoy the thrill of hunting. He did it to get paid.

It is through the free-market that, through our voluntary transactions, we all make one another wealthier and better off.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 4:33 pm

"Make no mistake I want democracy. But please what do you want? I'm really curious."

I want a democracy where liberty is protected by taking away government's ability to coerce people into following its central plan.

I want the right to refuse to pay for a program I don't believe in. If the majority wants it, it should be well funded because the majority should also want to pay for it. If the majority votes to erect a program and at the same time, votes to have a minority pay for it, that's theft.

You want tyranny of the majority. But our founding fathers obviously saw you coming from a mile away because they devised he electoral college to defend against that very outcome.

Jon June 28, 2007 at 4:44 pm

"I met a hunter the other day who shot a bear. He told me he killed a bear. I told him no you did not kill a bear. The bear was killed by the miners who dug the gun power, the iron ore and the lead. The bear was killed by the smelter who made the steel for your gun, the engineer who designed it, the inventor who discovered gun powder, the factory worker who assembled it and many many others who worked past and present to kill that bear.

Until you understand this Jon you will keep believing the Randian fallicy that you are a self made independent man and no one else is deserving of your toil."

On the contrary, He did kill the bear, those involved in the making of such a weapon have nothing to do with pulling the trigger.

Your fallacy is that you assume that simply because I am not a solely self-made man, which I openly acknowledge, that I OWE those other people who influence me anything. Now while social convention might support this, I do not actually owe them anything. Now I may choose to reward those that shape my life. But that is a choice that I have to make, NOT one that I should be coerced into!

Randy June 28, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Exactly. The question isn't whether or not we have connections to others – of course we do. The question is the degree to which the society allows those connections to be voluntary.

CalgaryGuy June 28, 2007 at 5:10 pm

"Until you understand this Jon you will keep believing the Randian fallicy that you are a self made independent man and no one else is deserving of your toil."

This anecdote sums up nicely muirgeo belief that there is no such thing as private property. In a system of private property rights a person has the right to do with his/her property as they choose. The miners, the smelter, the engineer, the inventor, the factory worker and the many many others who worked past and present all SOLD their claim to their work and yes in fact the hunter who purchased those claim did in fact kill the bear.

Methinks June 28, 2007 at 5:19 pm

"There really is no significant difference in health care outcomes between us and the other 30 developed nations who have national health care plans with regards to outcomes anecdotal horror stories not withstanding."

Quite a claim there, Comrade Muirgeo. Yet not a shred of data to back that up. Here you start the day parading around your statistics and suddenly we're just supposed to accept your sweeping statements as facts.

Well documented wait lists and the higher death rates associated with specific diseases and illnesses are not anecdotes. I don't know if they taught you that in med school.

“The main difference is that in those other countries employers often our relieved of providing coverage and thus have an advantage over US employers.”

Well that’s where your ignorance of economics leads to an erroneous conclusion. The main difference is poorer access than our poor and uninsured have to healthcare, higher hospital infection rates, and higher death rates from diseases. But just out of curiosity – if their system is so much better, why are they all moving toward a private model?

“Likewise they spend about 8% of their GDP on health care while we spend 15% and rising.”

Good. Price caps reduce expenditure and they’re great if you’ve got breast cancer and don’t mind the 12 month wait for chemo. Just out of curiosity, does that number include the private insurance nearly half the British purchase to get access to what we consider “standard care”? Also, how do we adjust that number to include the fact that 45% of dialysis centers in Britain refuse to provide dialysis to people over aged 65+? It’s rationed, you see, to keep the costs down and they choose to save it for the younger folk.

“Most of the difference goes to CEO's and administrators who are experts at figuring out how to deny care and add nothing to the quality of US health care”

Prove it.

“For the life of me I can't figure out what form of government you people want.”

The kind that doesn’t impose price and wage controls that cost lives.

“Democracy works best if everyone is well educated and has equal oppurtunity under the law.”

What the hell does “equal opportunity” under the law mean? It’s ironic that you should mention education when you are clearly poorly informed about your own profession.

“You all want social Darwinism…”

What is being forced to deny dialysis to the elderly to keep the young alive? What is being forced to choose which patient’s life you save and which you can’t because of a lack of supplies, staff and facilities?

It seems that you’re the one calling for social Darwinism, not me.

There are plenty of free market solutions to bring down both the cost of insurance and care for the people who want it more cheaply. But a the existence of a free market solution didn’t even occur to you – you went straight for socialism or the hybrid crap we’re in now.

Here’s the sad reality for you, comrade doctor….

With price controls come wage controls. Educating yourself to become a doctor was expensive, I’m sure. Plus, it’s tiring and emotional work. When the wage controls come, you’ll have to decide to accept lower pay to bring home to your own kids or to opt out of the national healthcare system, accept only private payments and have more money to care for your own family at the cost of one less doctor to treat the people who are too poor to pay you out of pocket. I wonder What will your egalitarian instincts lead to choose.

Sam Grove June 28, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Muirgeo,
I would, if I could, apologize for the latent hostility some posters have expressed in addressing your posts.

IAC, you seem to have limited yourself in imagining the possibilities for social order. I suggest that your limitation is that you have accepted the premise that some form of institutional extortion is required to make society 'work'.

The premise I operate from is that we have a state because people have been socially indoctrinated to believe in it. This belief is the water we swim in, so to speak.

If you are willing, at least intellectually, to climb out of the water for a bit, and consider other possibilities, you might begin to see where libertarians swim.

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