American Political Philosopher, Author, and Musician
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Déjà vu all over again: Universal Healthcare:   August '09

 

In my book "Answers", written in 1994, there is a chapter on the health industry. There's really no reason to update what I wrote in '94, as 15 years later no one else has been even close to the solution I provided then. I'll provide an excerpt from that text now, for your education:

The Health Industry

Health services, like education, bicycles, and pizzas are products. Just like a television show or a course of study or any other product of human creativity, under the principles of our nation, the quality of health care is generated by the natural system of causes and effects among free individuals within the physical world. It’s self-evident that products of the health industry can and are being sold to people who desire or need the service.

We can gather, furthermore, that for some of us there is the potential for substantial financial compensation in return for the development and performance of these procedures, regardless of whatever other motives one might suggest.

Motivations for this development span the range from financial reward to fears about the inevitable deterioration of the human machine. Some individuals, or groups of individuals, can develop the skill and methodology to provide solutions to some of these problems in some cases, and, in some ways, to make some unsolved health-problems easier to live with in some instances. In other cases, lives are saved routinely by procedures that were recently unknown.

There was a recent surge by the administration of Bill Clinton and wife and their supporters to "reform" our healthcare industry with a system of government-controlled insurance. I don't know a great deal about the extinct plan, but I know both that it was more recently obliterated first by the indecision of its own proponents and then more officially by a historical republican sweep of congressional elections; and that the official creator of the plan, Hillary Clinton, said- and I saw her say it personally on TV- that she thought Americans ought to view healthcare as a right, the same way they would view the freedom of speech as a right.

Since this is the fundamentally flawed premise upon which the plan is based, and since the existence of any such plan exemplifies the application of that false premise, the exact contents of the plan are irrelevant.

I don't claim to be the only one who can tell you why the premise is wrong, but I am the only one who can apply it further to tell you what's really wrong with the current health "system" to the degree that something really is wrong. As pointed out on one of the republican TV shows, and as I'm sure many others concluded without its or my help, I hope,  it is completely incorrect in any logical sense or under any respectable understanding of our founding principles that a product, such as healthcare, can be a right.

Rights are life, liberty, and property, period. That is what we arrive in the world with, and what depends upon no other creature. There can be no such thing as the right to have someone do something for you, regardless of how great the need. Rights are something that you have because they were yours before someone set about to take it away by force.

We never needed government in order to have rights, we only need government to protect them. Products such as inexpensive, quality healthcare, and education, for example, are luxuries of life that only exist when the government succeeds in protecting our rights.

 

I was watching a speech today 2/3/94 on CSPAN given by an economics professor of whom I had never heard, and whose name I don't remember, though I could tell that he was certainly intelligent, educated, and had great communication skills. He concluded, however, that some political systems are going to be good at some things and some systems better for others, using capitalism as an example that is good at driving an economy, but one that is poor at dealing with social issues like healthcare because it is "limited" by the fact that individual investment and planning has no incentive to deal with problems that are significantly in the future, as are potential healthcare problems, presumably, because the value of investment return depreciates with time.

Like the others who are less honest about their distrust of capitalism in addressing these problems, he made a couple of significant errors, each an error of drawing seemingly rational conclusions from false premises. First, there is the assumption, as has been illustrated in other contexts within the book, that "capitalism is our governmental system and that we now have problems in the health care system, therefore capitalism doesn't work".

 The simple fact is that our problems don't stem from capitalism, but from active distrust of capitalism by the members and constituents of what is dogmatically observed to be, all the while, the picture of capitalist government. In short, people think capitalism doesn't work because there are problems, which is like saying that someone drowned because air doesn't work. (it could have, if the victim had been breathing it).

The second fundamental mistake would be the desire to prevent people from drowning by getting a committee together to come up with something else for people tobreath, such as water. That is what people who favor government regulation of healthcare, future and past, by analogy, want to try.

The problem they cannot escape is that there is no such thing as getting people together to think of a better way of letting nature and human beings do as they do. All the reorganizing and planning and redistributing of funds will never change the fact that healthcare solutions are the products of the creativity of free individuals, driven by financial and other potential rewards. These solutions, simply, don't come from anywhere else. Regardless of how you might want to structure it or how cleverly you attempt to predict and second-guess the needs of people; no matter how much community money you may want to shove down whatever hole, no one can control the ideas of a human being and be secure that those ideas might reveal a solution that doesn't exist in the mind of the controller.

All you can do is allow people to be free, allow them to pursue and retain the rewards of excellence in their chosen fields, and rest upon the principle that our society will be the society we want when life, liberty, and property are protected; in other words,when capitalism is practiced, rather than blamed for problems it was hardly allowed to address. Anyone thinking otherwise should admit that they no longer believe that a society in which people are free is the best society; as the two beliefs, in nature, cannot coexist in one frame of mind.

Now that this should be obvious to you; as obvious must be the fact that it follows from the previous reasoning that there are negations of capitalism already present in the healthcare industry that are truly to blame for problems that we now face. The goal of this chapter is to illustrate the nature of these negations and show how they have worked to disrupt the natural productivity of the industry.

The major negation of capitalism to which I refer in the industry of health care is simply the logical extension of previously presented premises and conclusions about drugs: yes, even the trade of prescription drugs of any kind must be a legal and protected trade, like any other, between producers and those adults to whom they choose to sell on mutually agreeable terms. That is not to say that any adult has the right to an opportunity to purchase, but that any adult has a right to purchase from the owners of the rights to a product who choose to sell, on whatever structure they might find agreement within.

Beginning, as always, from principle: No man is born holding the reigns of another. No man, in the wilderness without government, could attempt to prevent the barter between other individuals without risking justifiably violent retaliation. Within government designed to only protect natural human rights, there is no authority to regulate the trade of substances which do not directly threaten national security.

 

The major problem with the equation involving the act of forcing individuals to go to certain other individuals who have passed some course of study, and pay them a fee,so that they then might allow the former to purchase what they need to improve their health- aside from the fact that it is an unauthorized and unconstitutional deal between various private interests and the government to the extent that the government providesits unjustifiable role as trade preventer- is the fact that, only in the health industry:

though there is a guarantee of a fee, there is never a guarantee of an effective product in return.

 The product to which I’m referring isn’t the quality of the drugs, nor other material products- as long as they are what they are defined as being. The product I’m referring to is the quality of advice about drugs and other treatments. You don't approach a business, pay for a product, and have a reasonable expectation that you may not receive that product, without the reciprocating opportunity to obtain that product from another source in the future. Don’t make the mistake of assuming “another doctor” would be a sufficient “another source”. “Another source” would be a source whose opinion is outside of the limitations inherent in the nature of that transaction model, if that consumer chose to not seek such opinions.

Consumers would choose to purchase the product of quality medical advice, from degreed professionals [or otherwise ], based upon the quality of advice; and, in turn, medical professionals would know that their income, with respect to drug recommendations, would rise with the quality of the value of their advice.

Prescription regulation unnaturally guarantees an income, by force, to individuals who should compete upon the quality of their advice and knowledge of drugs and health practices, simply stated.

On another level, you must understand that there are many routine illnesses and drug related treatments in the industry of medicine that can be effectively diagnosed and handled by many, many intelligent people for themselves, though they may have no medical training or even a high school diploma. Information on desired and side-effects of man-made drugs is just as available to citizens who can read a language as it is to citizens who have had someone tell them in a class.

Some of you are probably think things like "people could kill themselves attempting to do what only trained professionals should do, etc. " The reply is: maybe that's true, but your only alternative is to save them from themselves through the barrel of a gun, when "trained professionals" prove themselves to be, as human beings in an imperfect  and developing field of science, potentially and perhaps dangerously just as wrong.

 

........

 

In the natural world free of regulation, the most routine medication could be purchased and administered without the signature of someone with a diploma that guarantees nothing. The more complex illnesses and treatments that are still routine among professionals would be handled by general practitioners and other minor-medical personnel. The cost of these types of procedures would drop as quality goes up both because a greater number of doctors- even those of mediocre potential- would be able to make a living at this type of practice, and because their service would have to be competent enough to keep first-time customers from choosing someone else next time, like in any other industry.

The real earning potential among doctors and other professionals in the medical industry- in the natural market- would no longer be volume of routine business, but in the advancement of new and delicate procedures, the development of new and better drugs, and upon research into cures. The greatest potential for earnings would arise from the most expeditious transfer of an illness from the category of rare and incurable, down to the category that can be handled by more and more doctors routinely, and then, finally, directly into the category treatable by the hands of the sovereign citizen.

Legalizing the trade, among adults, of drugs (qualified, as with all other food, drugs, commercial broadcast stations and other potentially harmful products, by government warnings based upon objective data) is the only way to remove the unnatural factors that promote mediocrity, technologica1 protectionism, and other hindrances to adaptivity and growth in the health industry.

 

[ The rest of the book is also brilliant:   buy now



 

answers


The spine of the published version of my original manuscript



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