In Jim Cook's Archive

Compassionate Harm

While on vacation a relative argued with me that the government must expand health care to take care of everyone without insurance. I responded that following that line of reason we should not have gone on vacation but sent all our money to Africa to help sick people. Why stop with the US population? Why not throw open our hospitals for free treatment of anyone in the world that can get here? That’s a reasonable conclusion for the runaway social sympathy that’s rampant on the left.

It’s obvious my suggestion is impractical because of financial limitations. What’s not so obvious is how impractical free domestic health care is for the same financial reasons. Every penny taken out of the private sector to fund public projects reduces the nation’s prosperity. If money is spent publicly it’s not invested privately. But that’s not the main reason to worry. There’s not enough money to pay for public health care without borrowing or printing so much that it imperils the worth of the currency and reduces everyone’s living standards. But even that’s not the main reason to worry.

When the government takes money from people involuntarily this taxation is a form of extortion. Taking someone’s money under the threat of force has a dubious moral foundation. Ayn Rand asked what is the moral right any person has to the earnings of another? The freedom philosopher Leonard Read wrote, “There is no greater dishonesty than man affecting his own private gains at the expense of others.” Said Emerson, “He is base and that is the one base thing in the universe, to receive benefits and render none.” Continued Read, “the evil means of confiscating income must lead to an evil end to those who live on it.” No good can come from passing out money that someone earned to someone who didn’t earn it. Every social program in America has reduced the capabilities and potential of the recipients and shrunk their soul. It has coarsened our society.

There is only one moral and ethical process to alleviate the suffering of the uninsured. It’s called charity. Private donations and charitable organizations have been one of our nations greatest strengths. The generosity of the American people is legendary. Any alternative to this voluntary solution promises misfortune. Said Read, “Every evil act commits us to its retribution.” This painful process has already begun.

As it stands now we’re all practicing a form of charity through our health insurance premiums. A lot of patients never pay the hospital for its services. Those costs get passed onto us and that is a big reason health insurance is so expensive. A bigger reason is that government has subsidized so many welfare recipients, immigrants and retirees that demand has gone through the roof. The more we move away from market solutions the worse the outcome.

This is a classic case of government intervening to correct some perceived social need. The unintended consequences of the government’s intervention make matters worse. This causes more government action causing even more chaos. Eventually we get to where we are now and they take over the whole system. This reduces the quality, excellence and high standards of our health care to rationing, delays and frustration.

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