I have come to believe that disagreements and arguments between reasonable and rational people can be explained by the fact that the opposing sides subscribe not to different beliefs, but rather different facts. I am not including the chiselers and goons who want to rob you, those bandits who knowingly trap people in deals that are not mutually beneficial. I am thinking about folks who disagree on health care, for instance. Almost anyone you ask would tell you that it is a desirable thing for people to have access to high quality, affordable care. The division comes about when discussing how to get there.
One side subscribes to the notion/set of facts that the free market, while not egalitarian, has been shown to be the power that results in the most rational distribution of goods and services. Those fans of the free market freely admit that this is no utopia. Just the best system there is. This holds for the method (respect of property rights) and results (the number of people affected). Watch this video of Thomas Sowell schooling some punk about the economic notion of “next best alternative,” what Sowell calls “compared to what.” The pertinent part begins at 1:02, although the entire video is interesting.
The other side subscribes to the notion/set of facts that due to isolated failures and the imperfection of distribution of goods and services resulting from a free market that the government (a noble institution, known for its interest in what’s best for all of us) must coercively take control, even if property and other rights are violated. The ends justifies the means. If you don’t have your health, what else matters? That sort of thinking.
I often think of the scene in “V for Vendetta” where the police inspector (played by the brilliant Stephen Rea) asks his young protege (I am going to paraphrase)..”..if our own government were responsible for the horrible deaths at St. Mary’s…I’m not saying they are…but if they were…my question is this: would you want to know?” I think this is where we are with health care. If the folks who are big fans of a national health care plan were to find out that the entire reason this plan has come about is that there are a few, very influential people and a whole host of large corporations who stand to become billionaires as a result of the plan, they would be left scratching their head. The propaganda surrounding the idea of “free”health care for all has been well crafted, so well done, in fact, that I believe the answer to Stephen Rea’s question for many would be a resounding “no.”
Many people don’t want to know that everything they have previously thought about something was wrong or was a lie. I have started actually asking people this question before deciding whether a discussion is even possible. ”If everything that you thought you knew about the origins of this health care plan was indeed a series of lies and falsehoods, would you want to know?” More times than you might think the answer is indeed, “no.” This approach is consistent with the writings and teachings of Leonard Reed. In his book, “Elements of Libertarian Leadership,” Reed warns the reader about badgering others with our thoughts on policy issues. ”Worry about yourself,” he says. Live your life. Those that are drawn to the ideas of liberty and freedom will see it in the way you live your life. They will be drawn to you. Attempts to flog them into your way of thinking will not only be fruitless, but counterproductive.
At the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, I think we have largely succeeded in this. We have put our prices out there for all to see. The facts are the facts. ”If you were to find out that we charged a tenth of what the ‘not for profit’ hospitals across town charge for the same thing, would you want to know?” Don’t think that I haven’t had some fun with this question.
This price-posting action on our part has placed those in the big hospital, Obamacare camp in a real pickle. They know the facts. They are counting on living the lie. Our having posted prices (profitable ones, at that) does as much as anything to reveal the lie, I think, without saying much of anything.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.