Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Battle Resumes

One evening while I was in class I observed the spectacle of two fellow classmates advocating -- and yes, in these explicit terms -- the government taking over the medical industry and the elimination of free markets. I am not accustomed to seeing socialist (or communist, or Marxist, or whatever) positions expressed out in the open, and I prepared to pose some Socratic questions to learn their justifications for these positions, but given the immaturity of one person and the potential hostility of the other I opted to stay out of the conversation and offer no body language (e.g. head shaking) that would incite a response. I am not afraid to support my own convictions in the open, but given how many rude arguments I have gotten into I prefer to be careful with whom I debate.

This situation does, however, light an incentive for me to resume posting on the current health care debate, though I'll be careful to make it an isolated issue rather than focusing on it as if it were the theme of this blog.

The excellent Paul Hsieh of We Stand Firm has written a detailed analysis of a presenter at the health care summit (?) and discusses why the debate must move onto moral grounds.

I forgot which author on NoodleFood stated this, but to paraphrase: Humans are willing to create hell on earth -- if they think it's moral. So long as we dwell on petty economic issues in the health care debate it will always be the man with the sanction of morality that will have the upper hand.

Do Americans truly believe that it is moral for non-medical expert politicians to dictate the actions of professional doctors? for the people who produce in industry to be taxed to pay for all this lest they be fined or imprisoned? for anonymous bureaucrats to decide which Americans can and cannot receive certain treatments? This is where we must direct our thoughts.


Dustin Dettmer said...

I tried a similar argument on someone and I was stunned when they responded with: "What about your freedom to get health care?"

The core point is so ridiculous I was speechless... How do you discuss anything at all with such a person?

Burgess Laughlin said...

> "What about your freedom to get health care?"

I would respond this way: "Exactly! I have a right, an absolute right, to take action on a free market in pursuit of healthcare -- just as doctors, x-ray technicians, and others have an absolute right to offer their products and services on that free market."

"Advocates of statism in medicine are denying me that right, specifically the right to liberty. They are wrecking the free market through their mandates, regulations, and subsidies. What we need is separation of Medicine and State."

Benpercent said...

What's ironic Dustin is that one of the classmates actually used a similar line of reasoning, though it cannot be interpreted the way Mr. Laughlin has yours. She stated that we had no freedom in regards to "choosing our healthcare," which I think means that we aren't "free" since insurance companies and doctors make all the structural decisions for us costumers (which ignores the role the government has in forcing those decisions, such as government mandated coverage for certain conditions). I find this funny of her to say this since she was fine with and advocated the elimination of free markets.

Well, if you're for the elimination of freedom then why complain about not having freedom?

Steve D said...

"Do Americans truly believe that it is moral for non-medical expert politicians to dictate the actions of professional doctors?"

To me the answer becomes obvious if you restate the above slightly differently as:

Do Americans truly believe that it is moral for non-medical expert politicians to dictate the actions of professional educators?

In both cases the I think the answer is obviously and unfortunately, yes. The only reason they haven't done so yet in the first case is they are still a little nervous about how it will work out and a dim realization that that this may be the reason why the US system can provide better health care.

I guess their parents forgot to teach them that health care doesn't grow on trees.

Jason said...

Smashing the moral-practical dichotomy by explaining that reason is man's means of survival and showing how only a free person can use reason are the most essential elements to explaining why capitalism (including freedom in medicine) is good and necessary for man to live.

Explaining that a person has a right to take hard drugs, for example (purely moral argument), will get us nowhere (although he does have such a right); the proper argument is that for individuals (adults) to figure out if and what drugs are bad for them, and for individuals to continually discover the positive uses of drugs (morphine as anesthesia; medical marijuana), they must be left free to produce, sell, study, and use them.

More generally I agree that an intellectual/philosophical approach is the key, but it must show how the moral is the practical, and must show that reason is man's means of survival and that the reasoning mind does not operate under coercion.

That being said, it's extremely difficult to talk to, nevermind discuss ideas with, a concrete-bound person who feels that ideas/theory/morality have no essential role in man's life.