I’m a property rights fundamentalist. When it comes to the concept of property, there is no compromise. The disposition of property should be the sole determination of the owner of the property. This, of course, includes our bodies. I would love to see a court rule that Obamacare is unconstitutional (don’t think they will) on the grounds that it is not consistent with the takings clause of the 5th amendment! The most ardent intellectual defenders of the concept of private property are the economists of the Austrian school. As radical as their ideas may strike you when you first read them, their ideas are consistent and unyielding. Their writings have influenced me in my medical practice, my business and my life and I highly recommend them to you. Start with a trip to www.mises.org. All that said, I have been challenged as an inconsistent defender of property rights with my endorsement of a Medicaid block grant proposal. What follows is my defense.
Before I wrote the blog endorsement, I thought of what Murray Rothbard (a standard bearer of the Austrian school) would have said about my support of the block grants. Would he have characterized this move as a sellout? Or would he have seen this, as I do, as a first practical step toward ending the confiscatory polices necessary for the entitlement programs of the total state? Would he have seen my blog as an indication of my acknowledging the legitimacy of the entitlement programs, as a block grant proposal is not a proposal to immediately end the program, but rather a step toward that end?
Also in my defense is this. Walter Block (another Austrian great) wrote an article during the 2008 presidential race that made the case for a candidate accepting federal matching funds, if that candidate’s platform ultimately reduced the scope of government in our lives. His advice: a freedom loving candidate could take the money in good conscience, but probably shouldn’t as the argument for taking it would be convoluted enough to represent a distraction from the campaign. What would not be an inconsistency, would appear one nonetheless, and not easily explained in a sound bite. I think that I’m in the same camp as Dr. Block with my block grant endorsement. What at first seems inconsistent, is not, after all. I welcome the dissent of any fellow property rights enthusiasts.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.