I love the writings of Frederic Bastiat. Get your hands on anything this Frenchman wrote and you’ll be changed by it. In his struggle to promote the ideas of liberty, he found the utilization of reductio ad absurdum to fit his needs. Simply, he would take the argument of his foe to extremes in order to magnify the true meaning behind a socialist’s proposal or statement. Here are some abbreviated examples.
He wrote a short treatise about candlemakers’ petition on the unfair competition of the sun. The idea was that everyone should have to close their blinds during the day so that more candles were needed, as the “free” light provided by the sun was the ruin of the candlemakers. Since the candle industry was indispensable, as the only source of light at night, this protection of their industry was deemded justified. This is how Bastiat made his point against any and all businesses that claimed some “right” to protection.
A railroad was proposed, but every little tiny town wanted a depot. Such was the furor and demand for the great number of depots that the train company could not profitably deliver goods or passengers. Bastiat, in his usual way, proposed that the train operate in reverse!
I attempted to emulate Bastiat recently in a blog where I made the case that those declaring health care a “right,” must extend this “right” beyond our borders. I wrote, “this is serious human rights stuff here!” If health care is a right, why does that right vaporize once U.S. borders are crossed?!
Bastiat had an advantage on me. The world was not as crazy then so his arguments could more easily be magnified to the absurd to make his point. I thought I had done just that. Turns out that I was wrong. Lawrence Gostin, a teacher at Georgetown University, in May 16th Journal of the American Medical Association (a government organization) seriously proposes, what I had proposed as absurd. You can read the extremely long article here if you are so inclined. I don’t recommend it. Many thanks!? to my friend Dr. Lawrence Huntoon for passing this article along. This is the kind of disgusting socialistic rubbish that government committees typically rely on. If you are considering sending your child to Georgetown for their college experience, you should read the article in its entirety. You’ll then deserve the conversations you must endure when they come home for Christmas break.
Mr. Gostin proposes that the whole world should be taxed to provide health insurance to everyone on the planet. For my failed attempt at reductio ad absurdum to have succeeded I would need to have included extraterrestrials. Or all organisms with a notochord. I’m not sure I’ll try this again. You never know when some creep like Gostin is lurking around the corner advocating absurdities, the extremeness of which render my old friend, Basitat, obsolete.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.