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Why isn’t medical care a right? - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Sep. 26th, 2008

10:53 am - Why isn’t medical care a right?

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Azalynn asks:

As in, making people fear for their lives if they don’t do a particular thing is always bad — unless it’s a corporation wanting you to do that thing.

Here’s my take on it. Please take it in the same spirit of your original post. If any of it comes across as an attack please attribute it to my lack of grace, and not to any ill will on my part.

Your fundamental objection appears to be: “I will die unless I get adequate food, shelter, and medical care. Therefore, unless I want to die, I’m forced to work (most likely for a corporation) to earn money to pay for these necessities. Therefore, someone else should provide me with sufficient food, shelter, and medical care such that I’m free to work on whatever on choose.”

1. What ethical rule gives you the right to the forced labor of someone else? I will die in 30-40 years unless aging research advances dramatically. Does that give me the right to point a gun to your head, and force you to pay more for this research? After all, you have enough disposable income to afford a computer, and probably many other luxuries (cars, books, movies). If I don’t have the right, what gives you the right to demand the same of me?

2. If you do force someone to pay for your healthcare, suddenly they have an incentive to dictate what you do with you life. Want to smoke? Eat Big Macs? Ride a motorcycle? Engage in anal sex? Too bad. Now that I’m paying for the risks you take, I’m going to pass so many nanny state regulations that living in a nunnery will seem like Vegas.

3. When the government controls the market for medicine, how open do you think they will be to paying for new medical technologies? If you were contemplating starting a biotech startup, how much would you invest knowing that you’d have to persuade the U.S. government to buy your product before it would be economically viable?

4. We already have universal coverage for people 65 and older. How well is the government doing managing that? According to this 2004 New York Times article (Entitlement Costs Are Expected to Soar)

“The annual reports on Social Security and Medicare will include new estimates showing that the total gap between the cost of promised benefits and the revenues to pay for them is close to $50 trillion, the experts said. By contrast, the Bush administration estimated last year that the long-term gap was $18 trillion over the next 75 years.”

If we’re already $50 trillion in debt just from seniors alone (albeit the group with the highest medical needs), what do you think will happen when everyone is covered?

I emphasized healthcare above, but the same applies to food, and shelter. (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-governmental organizations at the heart of the current mortgage meltdown, were started by New Deal Democrats who wanted to help more low income people own their own homes.)

Rather than more subsidies, how about we try a little increased freedom? Abolish the FDA and/or the patent monopolies, and we’ll see an explosion of new medical devices and drugs. Abolish medical licensure and immigration restrictions on foreign doctors, and the cost of medical care will fall dramatically as many more people (both foreign and domestic) enter the profession.

If we passed such reforms, we could have both increased freedom and much lower healthcare costs.

Original: craschworks - comments

Comments:

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From:greendalek
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
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*applause*
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From:ernunnos
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Bravo!
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From:merccom
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
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i always break it down like this.

yes, you have and apsolute right to healthcare, no one can deny you from having healthcare. but only in the same manner that you have the right to keep and bear arms and you have the right to freedom of speach.

do you demand that the government or someone else give you a gun and a holster? no, that would be silly

do you demand that the government or someone give you something to say? No, thats almost offencive.

same concept with healthcare, it is up to you to decide what is the right level of healthcare for you and your situation and then to live with it. just as having a gun and decideing to carry it is something that have have to decide to do for yourself or choose not to do. just as it is up to you how loudly you vocalize your oppinions or decide not even to form one.
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From:ilwitchgrrl
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
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This sums up my misgivings about universal healthcare much more eloquently than I have yet been able to do. Do you mind if I repost this, with credit?
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From:crasch
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
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Feel free!
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From:ilwitchgrrl
Date:September 26th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
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thank you!
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From:elsewhereangel
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
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as always, you've given me some food for thought.

and while i recognize the many, many flaws of the fda, i think the explosion of new drugs would be littered with an explosion of new and terrible side effects.

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From:crasch
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
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and while i recognize the many, many flaws of the fda, i think the explosion of new drugs would be littered with an explosion of new and terrible side effects.

Yes, there may also be increase in quack remedies and harmful drugs. I'm inclined to think the harm will be small due to the incentives of medicine makers not to kill their customers (so they can sell more product), and fear of product liability lawsuits.

In any case, I think it's your body, and therefore, your right to choose to take a potentially risky medications.
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From:elsewhereangel
Date:September 26th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
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but i do think it would be *awfully* helpful to know what those side effects are.

i'm not being either snide or snarky, i spent a year managing data for a biomedical ressearch product. what i saw, even with all the regs, really shocked and changed me. it also made me one of the world's only fans of animal testing.

and i must add, it makes me sick at times listening to upper middle class elderly bitching about their copays. because everything should be free to the perennially entitled baby boom generation.
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From:nder
Date:September 26th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
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I’m forced to work (most likely for a corporation) to earn money to pay for these necessities.
What ethical rule gives you the right to the forced labor of someone else?
flawed flawed flawed flawed flawed flawed flawed flawed flawed.
There is NOTHING that says anyone has to work for anyone else. Most folk just tend to not run their own shows, for whatever reason. We're not beholden to line up and have our tasks assigned to us by the sorting hat.
People need to stop relying on external forces to provide the things they want in their lives, and forge their own paths. Who cares if it's hard, or doesn't meld with your slothy lifestyle. You get out of life what you put into it, period.
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From:pasquin
Date:September 26th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
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One has a right to life (liberty and all that). That is: a negative right, a right to be left alone. Medical intervention, on the other hand, would be a positive right, or one provided.

What you are really saying is that whomever pays dictates the use of those resources. What could be more sensible than that? Only with government, you can't chose to belong. They get you at birth. And back their rules with guns.

Then a soulless corporation looks pretty good.
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From:girlvinyl
Date:September 26th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
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Wow!

I secretly am a big fan of abolishing the FDA and medical [and hair styling!!! WTF!] licensure. I never express it though. I am too afraid I'll get murdered in the street if anyone knows. People have been raised with the idea that government is there to "protect" and "help" them, despite the fact that it does just the opposite and when it even attempts to do those things, it makes everything worse. Honestly, the government has employed one of the most successful and enduring marketing campaigns of all time.

Anyway, I agree with this 100% and am really impressed with your ability to state it so succinctly and in such a nice, accessible style.
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From:crasch
Date:September 26th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I can understand the reluctance to make your opposition to the FDA known in polite company. People act like you've just commented on the deliciousness of babies. (talcom-flavored!)

I'm happy to provide moral support! And thanks for your kind words regarding my style.
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From:h_postmortemus
Date:September 27th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
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I find myself wavering on some of these beliefs as I grow older. No, not that I'm about to collapse into a bleeding-heart libby hiperal.

I don't want to be forced to pay for someone else's medical care. But I also want the choice to do so, without interference. And I should have the choice of how to do so. In other words, I could simply go pay for a friends badly-needed medical treatment, or I could fund research in an anti-cancer drugs, or organize a large campaign to try and provide medical benefits to unwed pregnant teens.

Government regulations and laws interfere with my ability to do that sort of thing. But so do corporations. Companies that research drugs for treatment of cancer want to rightfully make a profit off their research. But they also want my taxes to support them, they do not want to pay taxes themselves, and they simultaneously try to shut-down any competition, even at the detriment to science that could save lives.

What I've come to realize is the vastness of what is wrong in politics stems from roots of what is in human nature. And those same roots are in corporations. Greed, jealousy, envy... I can't trust a corporation any more than I can trust a government.

The only real solutions I can think of require either completion of The Singularity, or a benevolent alien intelligence. :D

So I find myself still pushing for less government, less regulation, more personal freedoms... But I hesitate to just turn over entirely to a corporate-run existance. And frankly, Libertarians will never be taken seriously if we continue to advocate for no government, all private. We need to push slowly towards that goal, over a generation.

(Which won't happen if you idiots won't start having babies! :) )
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