“Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society.  As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.”  

More wisdom from Bastiat.  I think when muddy-headed folks say that health care is a “right” they are making the mistake of blurring the distinction between government and society.  A desire to make health care available to the most vulnerable and poor is, after all, distinctly different from inviting government corruption to the task.    

The socialist would say,” charity won’t adequately provide for the poor!”  This is the primary justification and argument of the socialist for the compassion of collectivism, the barbarity of entitlements and the widespread violation of property rights.  Here are three ways to respond to this argument.  

First, “I don’t care what you do with money stolen from me.  All I care about is that I’ve been mugged.”  After all, the government doesn’t have any money to pass out that it didn’t first take from someone at gunpoint.  This argument is sufficient in itself.  Nothing more really needs to be said.  That someone else should claim a “right” to your property, means it was never your property to begin with, as no right can exist, the exercise of which violates another’s rights, property or otherwise.

Second, government handouts consist of the value of the handout plus the overhead of administering the bureaucracy in charge of theft and distribution of the loot.  This is very inefficient and is not what any economist would call an ideal or maximal utilization of resources.

Third, we will never know if charity would have sufficiently provided  for the poor, as denied the use of money through confiscatory taxation, many are denied their opportunity to be charitable.  The great libertarian Leonard Read wrote angrily about this, seeing this denial of the “right to be charitable” as an incredibly destructive influence on communities and society, distancing and depersonalizing the plight of the unfortunate in need of help.

Expand Medicaid?  Government health care for all?  Just because liberty-minded folks are opposed to government involvement in health care, doesn’t mean that they are opposed to the poor having access to health care.  In fact, it is the innovation of individuals in a free market that brings prices down to levels that more and more people can reach, levels that in other industries like cell phones and computers would have been unimaginable 20 years ago.  It is the involvement of government that guarantees limited access, skyrocketing prices, fraud, corruption and death.  

How much more of the carnage of socialism must we endure before we abandon this way of thinking?  Free markets in health care will help us to avoid the rationing and death that has characterized government health systems all over the world.  Our model is a free market one.  There are many others in the works dedicated to price transparent, high quality, reasonably priced health care.  No economic system known to man makes better use of scarce resources than a free market.  To maintain otherwise, particularly with a service as important as heath care, is either ignorant or duplicitous.  

G. Keith Smith, M.D.