Not too late to save America? 8

From PowerLine:

The federal government is trying to take control over our lives via government medicine, cap and trade, and more. …

Having the far left in control of both the executive and legislative branches is a terrible thing, but on the plus side, it is clarifying: people actually have to think about where they stand on the big issue of freedom vs. socialism. Or, in other words, freedom vs. slavery.

The game isn’t over yet, but we have, roughly speaking, a first-quarter score, and so far freedom is ahead. Rasmussen finds that 76% of Americans favor a free market economy, compared to 10% who favor an economy managed by the government. More fundamentally than anything else, this explains why the Democrats face such an uphill struggle in their effort to remake America in a left-wing image.

Yes. But why didn’t enough people think about it before they put the socialists in power? If Republicans regain Congress in 2010 and the presidency in 2012, will they shrink government, reduce welfare dependency, and above all make the necessary changes in schooling so that new generations will grow up knowing the value of freedom?

An immigrant’s view 12

Svetlana Kunin, a Russian immigrant, observes the damage that is being done to all that’s best in America by the rise of the left with its ‘political correctness’.  She writes in the Investor’s Business Daily:

I look at the people who support the transformation of America in disbelief: They are destroying the very land that gave them so much opportunity.

Groomed, well-fed and educated, comfortably living in a prosperous society, they need a mission to give meaning to their lives. These “fighters for the less-fortunate among us” glaze over the fact that hundreds of millions of people from around the world desperately try to come to this country for all it offers, regardless of their economic status, race, class, or gender.

Immigrants rightly see this country as the best place to obtain a decent life for themselves and their families.

When I immigrated to America in 1980, I was overwhelmed with the amount of food and goods available at any store, at the numerous charitable organizations helping the needy, and even the government programs that helped people to obtain necessary skills to find a job.

Later, I realized that the country was in the midst of a deep recession. Compared to where I came from, it seemed like the pinnacle of prosperity.

As a secular Soviet Jew, my first Christmas in America was amazing. The proud display of religious symbols was a celebration not only of the holiday, but of a population free to express their beliefs without fear of oppression. I understand why at the beginning of the 20th century Jewish immigrants in America wrote many beautiful Christmas songs; these songs were born out of grateful hearts. Churches and synagogues coexist without issues. Nobody is forced to practice or not practice a religion.

Soon, however, I noticed darker aspects underlying life in America. Political correctness had seeped into everything like cancer. Under the pretense of multicultural diversity, suppression and intolerance of uniquely American traditions such as liberty, private property, and e pluribus unum (out of many, one), became not only acceptable, but necessary in supposedly enlightened society.

Under the pretext of helping the needy, liberals eliminate people’s drive to better themselves and their families. Instead, they obsess about events of the past and exacerbate the victim mentality in the very people they claim to help.

The stranglehold of political correctness has only grown stronger. I see in today’s governmental policies a replication of the very things I escaped from.

In the USSR, representatives of the Communist party — partorgs (literally: party organizers) — were ingrained into every aspect of civilian, official and military life. These political organizers controlled public order by observing the behavior and speech of every citizen. …

Government-controlled medical care and poorly compensated medical personnel stimulated corruption at every level of service. People had to resort to bribery in order to get the help they needed, and underpaid medical personnel were open to the payouts. Those who could not pay had to beg for help. The only hospitals comparable to American hospitals were in Moscow and a few other cities, where government officials were treated. In the rest of the country, medical care was substandard. This was the reality of free health care for everyone. …

Read it all here.

Posted under Commentary, communism, government, Russia, Socialism, Soviet Union, Totalitarianism, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, December 9, 2009

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Giving the finger 3

Mark Steyn said on the Hugh Hewitt Show:

MS: What was interesting to me in the account that I heard on Rush’s show earlier today, we had the guy who actually found the finger call in. And he said that this pro-Obamacare protestor had deliberately selected the oldest fellow in the counter-demonstration. In other words, he picked an elderly man, gray hair, bespectacled, stooped, much smaller than him. The pro-Obamacare protestor, when he was looking for some guy’s finger to bite off, didn’t go for any of the big guys, didn’t go for the guys his own age or his own size. And it was an interesting account. This senior is very lucky to have his finger restored to him, because the guy bit it off and then just basically spat it into traffic. So Rush’s listener happened to find it, and took it to the nearest hospital, which happened to be the hospital that this guy had been taken to.

HH: This is pregnant with symbolism. If he attacked the oldest person there, that’s rationing carried to an extreme and immediate step.

MS: Yeah, this is basically, we’re seeing freelance death paneling going on now. I mean, if you’re going to have death panels, then this is one of those situations where you’ve got to have it under government regulation, obviously. It’s like everything else in the new utopia. It’s got to be government regulated. If people are going to go around doing their own freelance death panels, the whole thing’ll go to hell.

HH: Well, you pointed out California can ill afford an outbreak of finger munching out here, because this is, reattachment surgery is not inexpensive.

MS: No, it’s not inexpensive, but on the other hand, it’s cheaper than finger reconstruction surgery, which is what the guy might have been in for if they hadn’t found the finger. I mean, the reality is, this is a very good example. When an old guy loses his finger, who cares? He’s not using it, he’s not contributing to society with his finger, what does it matter if his finger gets chewed off and tossed into traffic. It is interesting to me that when we hear these stories about how nutty the anti-health care, anti-Obamacare protestors are, that in fact all the individual explicit acts of totally insane violence, like the guy being beaten up in St. Louis, or this finger munching, are actually being presented by the nice, reasonable, moderate, liberal protestors. Make of that what you will.

Posted under Commentary, government, Health, Humor, satire, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, September 5, 2009

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Dry Laughs (2) 2

From The Community Organizer

Posted under Health, Humor, United States by Jillian Becker on Saturday, August 29, 2009

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The greatest of lies about government 2

Vasko Kohimayer writes in Front Page Magazine (an article well worth reading in its entirety):

Having incurred more than $65 trillion in obligations of various kinds, the federal government finds itself in an insurmountable fiscal hole. To give a sense of size, this amount is more than the annual economic output of the whole world and four times America’s Gross Domestic Product. It would be impossible to manage this even if our leaders suddenly came to their senses and began to behave responsibly. There is little chance of that, however. The larger our debt, the more eager they are to spend more.

Despite our leaders’ efforts to conceal the level of indebtedness, its reality cannot be evaded. The steady weakening of the dollar is one evidence of that. In recent months financial experts have even been discussing the unthinkable: The possibility that the American government may default… The deficit will end up being close to $2 trillion at the end of this fiscal year… The markets are growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of the United States failing to meet its obligations.

The question is how did America get into this position. What brought this country – once a citadel of financial stability – to such dire straits? The answer will become apparent when we look at the composition of America’s debt burden.

The federal government’s obligations consist of two main components. The smaller of the two is the one that is reported on more often. It is referred to as “public debt,” or “national debt,” or “sovereign debt.” This is the debt that the government has incurred as a consequence of its budget deficits over the years. It currently stands at $11.6 trillion, which is about 85 percent of GDP.

The public debt, however, only represents a relatively small portion of the government’s total debt. The rest is primarily made up of obligation connected with three large entitlement programs – Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. It is estimated that together their combined claims amount to roughly $55 trillion more than what the government will collect in designated taxes. At this point Medicare and Social security do not yet represent a net budgetary expense, because revenues (FICA taxes) exceed what is paid being out in benefits. To put it differently, these programs are currently running surpluses; this situation, however, will not last indefinitely. The social security surplus will end around 2018. The negative gap will then widen rapidly with each successive year… The $55 trillion question is: How will the government raise the cash once the surpluses come to an end?

There are two ways in which this can be done: by raising taxes or by borrowing. Neither seems like a good option under the circumstances. Taxes are already perceived to be high; bringing them much higher would be politically unpopular if not impossible. Furthermore, raising taxes would hamper growth, which would in turn decrease the tax base and thus defeat the purpose of the increase in the first place. As far as borrowing is concerned, it is almost certain that investors would refuse to finance additional debt given their concerns about its present levels. With no place to go, it is likely the federal government will do what governments usually do when caught in this situation: it will “meet” its obligations by printing money.

This, of course, is an easy way out, but it debases the currency and produces inflation. And since America’s huge debt load is far beyond the government’s ability to pay off with honest money, the level of inflation is likely going to be very high. It would actually appear that the government has already embarked on this path. There are even those who fear that the United States may eventually experience hyperinflation… The soaring inflation that will follow will have a devastating effect on the already fragile financial system and will inevitably lead to economic breakdown. This will in turn set off centrifugal forces in a troubled and divided society.

America’s impending travails are thus ultimately tied to fiscal mismanagement, particularly in the area of entitlements. It is as ironic as it is instructive that entitlements seek to confer the kinds of benefits the Founding Fathers thought the federal government should have no business of pursing. It was with this in mind that they drafted a constitution that sought to prevent the federal government from getting involved in those areas. They made it very clear that federal functions were to be few and  limited, confined primarily to protecting the life, liberty and property of Americans.

Ensuring people’s well-being through the provision of retirement income, healthcare and other such goods was not to be the government’s job.

It is to our detriment that we have betrayed both our founding principles and the Constitution. We have done this because we have fallen for that greatest of lies, which is that government is capable of providing for citizens’ material and social needs

Brainwashed by years of public education, many believe that ensuring the population’s material welfare is precisely what good government is all about. But no government has ever been able to pull this off

Those naive enough to rely on the government’s “guarantee” of a “dignified” retirement are bound to be bitterly disappointed… But if the only thing the government did was to fail to deliver on its promises, the situation would not be so dire. Unfortunately, it also did something else in the process – it has bankrupted this nation by saddling it with debts and obligations we cannot fulfill. This outcome is unsurprising. The old maxim is as valid now as it has always been. Government does not solve problems; it only makes them worse. Given the ambitious scope of entitlements, it was only to be expected that federal involvement would eventually create difficulties on an insurmountable scale…

Posted under Commentary, Economics, government, Health, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, August 24, 2009

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Emanuelcare 36

Chuck Norris writes:

Obama is not the leader of Obamacare. And neither is Congress. The one who has been spearheading the initiative behind the scenes is one who goes under the misnomer “adviser” to the Obama administration, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist and breast oncologist and brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. And his bible for health care reform is his book “Healthcare, Guaranteed.”

Dr. Emanuel has served as special adviser to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget for health policy as far back as February, when he confessed to the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times that he was “working on (the) health care reform effort.” The first draft of Obamacare?

If you want to know the future of America’s universal health care, then you must understand the health care principles and plans of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel. I find it far more than a coincidence how much Emanuel’s book parallels Obamacare’s philosophy, strategy and proposed legislation.

First, Emanuel rejects any attempts at incremental change or reform to our health care system (Page 185). What’s needed, he concludes in his book (Page 171), is an immediate and totally comprehensive reconstruction of health care as we know it. That, of course, describes the vision of Obamacare to a T.

Second, in the chapter “Opening the Door to Comprehensive Change,” starting on Page 171 (which reads more like a political and mass-manipulating strategy than a health care manual), Emanuel drives home “a key political lesson: the need to rush the legislation through.” (Seen this methodology being used lately?!)

Third, as Obama crusades around the country pitching Obamacare, he continues to avoid giving virtually any specific details of the program. That, too, is a strategy of Emanuel’s: “Americans need to avoid the policy weeds. Focusing on details will only distract and create tangles and traps (Page 183).” So “details” of health care reform are “weeds”? That is why we continue to hear only warm and fuzzy generalities from Obama, such as,”If you’ve already got health care, the only thing we’re going to do for you is we’re going to reform the insurance companies so that they can’t cheat you.”

Fourth, Emanuel describes a comprehensive government health care program that is run completely by a national health board and 12 regional health boards (“modeled on the Federal Reserve System” — Page 83). Critics would say, “But that is not the national board as described in Obamacare or H.R. 3200.” Not yet, anyway. Does anyone doubt that the duties and power of the national “Health Benefits Advisory Committee” will morph and grow over time? And what power will it wield when it is like the Federal Reserve?

Fifth, Emanuel believes in the “phasing out of Medicare (and) Medicaid (pages 88-89 and 94-95).” Could their eventual termination be the reason Obama’s administration won’t merely reform those programs to accommodate its universal health care desires?

Sixth, Emanuel believes in ending employer-based health care (pages 109-112). As any businessman knows, why would a company pay the exorbitant costs for employees’ private health insurance when it can benefit big-time from a free ticket for government health care coverage? Some have even proposed that provisions in the House’s health care legislation, under the titles “Limitation on new enrollment” and “Limitation on changes in terms or conditions” (Page 16 of H.R. 3200), could essentially make individual private medical insurance illegal.

Seventh, Emanuel believes a universal health care program could be paid for by phasing out Medicare and Medicaid, adopting a value-added tax of at least 10 percent, etc., and then allowing Americans themselves to “pay extra with after-tax dollars” (Page 100) for additional medical benefits (beyond the government program). The truth is that whether the money comes from higher corporate taxes, taxing employer-provided health insurance, eliminating health savings accounts or flexible spending accounts, limiting the deductibility of medical expenses, increasing taxes on selective consumptives or the middle class, etc., or all the above, trust me; sooner or later, we all will pay.

Eighth, enough has been written lately about Emanuel’s end-of-life counsel and consultation, including withholding his advice from The Hastings Center Report (in 1996) that medical care should be withheld from those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens. … An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

I find it striking that Obama’s ethics similarly have allowed him already to pass more laws increasing the terminations of life in the womb than any administration since Roe v. Wade. To add insult to injury, Congress repeatedly has rejected amendments to this universal health care bill that would prevent federal funds from being used for abortions.

In short, whether in title or not, Emanuel is Obama’s health care czar. Obamacare is a junior version of Emanuelcare. Or should I say the beginning stage of Emanuelcare? What’s almost eerie is how they both could be juxtaposed to intersect in full bloom sometime in America’s future.

A strategy of deception 14

Michael F. Cannon writes in Townhall:

The Obama administration’s offer to drop a Medicare-like health insurance option for Americans under age 65 is neither a surprise nor a comfort, because it does nothing to change the administration’s dangerous plan for health reform. Rather, it is a tactic designed to change the debate – one that fits nicely within the administration’s broader strategy of deception.

On Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that a new government program modeled on Medicare is “not the essential element” of reform, and that the president is open to a government-chartered “co-operative.”

It was inevitable that the administration would back away from a new Medicare-like program, the demands of left-wing House Democrats notwithstanding. For weeks, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has been telling the world that such a program would never pass the Senate: “There are not the votes in the Senate for the ‘public option,'” Conrad recently told Fox News Sunday. “There never have been.” The only question was when the president would distance himself from the idea.

President Obama chose this moment because he is losing the debate on health reform, and he needs to change the subject. The administration no doubt hopes that the conversation will be about how the president has moderated his approach to health reform.

One problem: this offer doesn’t make the president’s health plan any more moderate. It is an empty gesture, because the administration can now push for Sen. Conrad’s “co-op” proposal as a substitute. And a government-chartered health care “co-operative” is simply another government health program.

The definition of a cooperative is a health plan governed by its enrollees. Since a government chartered co-op won’t have any enrollees at first, it will be governed by—guess who?—the Secretary of Health and Human Services, just like any other government program.

In June, Sebelius told, “You could theoretically design a co-op plan that had the same attributes as a public plan.” In July, President Obama himself told Time magazine, “I think in theory you can imagine a co-operative meeting that definition” of a “public option.”

On a practical level, it makes no difference whether a new program adopts a “co-operative” model or any other. The government possesses so many tools for subsidizing its own program and increasing costs for private insurers—and has such a long history of subsidizing and protecting favored enterprises—that unfair advantages are inevitable.

So even if Democrats promise that someday the new program will become a co-op, what they mean is: “We’re going to create that new government health program, just as we intended all along. But we will turn it over to the members in, oh, five years or so. We promise.”

That makes Sebelius’s announcement yet another cynical ploy to achieve health reform by deceiving the public.

President Obama keeps saying you’ll be able to keep your current health plan, even though the Congressional Budget Office says that isn’t true. The president says a new government program wouldn’t drive private insurers out of business, even though his allies expect it to do just that. He says he wants choice and competition, yet proposes insurance regulations that would drive most private plans out of existence. He doesn’t want the government to take over the health sector, just like he didn’t want to take over General Motors. The administration pretends to distance itself from a new government program by embracing…another new government program.

Beware 10

Political Cartoon by Lisa Benson

Posted under government, Health, Humor, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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Death panel: a political event in six parts 354

Part One: The Consultation

You have a life-threatening illness, right? You are over 65 years old, right? I am a doctor and am being paid by the Government to give you counseling about your end-of-life decisions. This consultation is entirely voluntary on your part, and is merely to provide you with information to help you decide now how you will want to be treated in advanced stages of your illness. The information concerns living wills, health care proxies, hospice, and pain medication.

Do I have your attention? Then let’s proceed.

1. ‘Living wills.’ You sign a document that declares which treatments you do or do not want applied to you if you have a terminal illness or lapse into a permanent vegetative state. Be assured that your living will would only be used when recovery is impossible. Who will decide that it’s impossible? A couple of (Government paid) doctors would have to certify that you are in this hopeless condition. Trust them.

2. ‘Health care proxy.’ This is for when you cannot speak for yourself – because you become demented, for instance – while your physical condition is not so dire that it would justify immediate action on your living will. You name a person who will make decisions for you about what care you should be given – within the parameters of what the Government would let you have, that is. You will of course name someone you really trust. Someone who loves you. Someone you know will only act as you would want him or her to act. Okay? Good. Just one thing to bear in mind – if the Government considers his or her decision to be not the right one, it can overrule him or her. So you see, you have a sort of upper guardian who will keep an eye out for misunderstandings or misjudgments. It’s a fail-safe arrangement, you might say. Your son or daughter decides as long as he or she chooses sensibly for you. If he or she doesn’t, no worry, the Government will make the right and final decision.

3. ‘Hospice.’ Hospices are comfy places to die. They are very nice death houses. No one will hurry you to shuffle off your mortal coil. (Only you won’t be let in if you’re likely to take an unreasonable stretch of time about what you’re in there for.) Medical staff will be very kind to you. You can sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam, and you may – if your digestion allows it – eat strawberries, sugar-substitute and cream. But remember, dear, you will be there to die.

4. ‘Pain medication.’ This is what you may have instead of an operation that could save your life. No, sorry, you cannot have the operation. It is expensive and the Government cannot pay for everyone with your illness to have this surgery. Just think: say we pay for it and then you go and die of complications soon afterwards. I mean, you’re old and your powers of recovery are not what they used to be. And even if you did recover, you wouldn’t be much use to Society, now would you? Be reasonable. Be selfless. Be patriotic. The Dear Leader made it perfectly clear that this would be Government policy. He said, ‘Take the pill instead of having the operation’. You remember now? Good. That’s clear then. And by the way, it’s true that there are some drugs that might help you to recover, but they’re also very expensive and as I said we have to think about who can best use their saved life for the good of Society – you who are old, or someone else who is young and vigorous. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, when you think about it? You are – if you don’t mind my putting it this way, just for clarity’s sake – a useless old bag, and somewhere there’s a young person with the same disease as you who can still be, let’s say, a brilliant community organizer if he gets the chance to live. So the drugs are for him, not you, dear. You understand? Fine. That’s settled then.

Oh, no dear! No one’s dictating to you what to do. It’s your choice, absolutely. You don’t have to make a living will, or appoint someone to act as your proxy, or go into a hospice, or take a pill to help your pain. No one’s forcing you. All we’re saying is that we’re not going to pay for you to have surgery or expensive drugs that might cure you. But all the rest is your choice, not ours, not anybody’s but yours. Doesn’t that make you feel that you’re in control dear?

You’re really having the best of all worlds, you know. You have all this choice as a free citizen of this free country. And at the same time you can feel safe, watched over, looked after to the last breath. What more could you ask?

Who are the people who will decide whether you’re too old for the surgery or the drugs? Well, there will be general guidelines, rules.

You say some individuals are stronger and more able to work at a late age than others, so will they have their cases examined individually? Yes. By whom, do you ask? By doctors – at least two doctors who will report to the authorities that you are an exception. Or not. And yes, the authorities will make the final decision.

Yes, the very young who have disabilities and have not yet had much money spent on them would also have to forego the expensive surgery and drugs, but their parents would have the same careful consideration given to their cases by the Government-paid experts as you will have.

You ask, would they not – these doctors, these authorities, these various experts and officials – constitute a panel deciding whether you may or may not have certain life-saving treatments? Yes, in effect. You could put it that way.

Sarah Palin did? Oh, you mustn’t believe Sarah Palin. She went much too far. She actually called it a ‘DEATH PANEL’. That’s entirely wrong. That’s just hysterical. Nutty. Way out. Totally inaccurate and misleading. A wicked distortion. A dangerous lie.

Calm down, please. I’m not prepared to carry on with this argument. It’s got out of hand. You’re crazy. She’s crazy. How can you think that Barack Obama, of all people, would want to set up a ‘death panel’? Perhaps you‘re suffering from incipient dementia, dear. Would you like to have a little chat with another Government-paid doctor about preparing for when it gets worse?

Part Two: A News Item

This week, reacting to the clamor from many angry and confused people, the Senate Finance Committee dropped the idea of including ‘advance care planning consultations’ in its health care bill.

Part Three: A Democrat Meditates

Why did so many react so unreasonably to a provision that was merely designed to allow Medicare to pay doctors who counsel patients about planning for end-of-life decisions? The consultations would have been entirely voluntary and would simply provide information about living wills, health care proxies, hospice, and pain medication. It’s mystifying how such a simple service could be so misinterpreted!

Part Four: The Denial

The Obama administration has been forced to react to a ridiculous rumor launched by Sarah Palin.

It has put this up on its website (excuse the clumsy wording but the clarification had to be posted in a hurry):

It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

Part Five: The Climb-down?

Associated Press report August 16 2009:

Bowing to Republican pressure and an uneasy public, President Barack Obama’s administration signaled Sunday it is ready to abandon the idea of giving Americans the option of government-run insurance as part of a new health care system.

Part Six: Chorus of Old People and Children

Two words have saved us – ‘DEATH PANEL’.

We need no longer fear.

The Government will not insure our care.

It cannot say ‘care granted’ or ‘denied’.

Who’ll live or die it won’t decide.

Thank you, Sarah Palin!

Jillian Becker  August 2009

An inalienable right to chicken Kiev 12

The great essayist (and physician) Theodore Dalrymple writes in the Wall Street Journal:

If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.

Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?

If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?

When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”

When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.

Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.

The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.

Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.

The government-run health-care system—which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care—has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.

Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality. (Not coincidentally, British survival rates for cancer and heart disease are much below those of other European countries, where patients need to make at least some payment for their care.)

In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.

There is no right to health care—any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.

Posted under Britain, Commentary, Health, Socialism, United Kingdom, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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