By Ron Paul
[This article was originally published in 2009.]
Political philosopher Richard Weaver famously and correctly stated that ideas have consequences. Take for example ideas about rights versus goods. Natural law states that people have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A good is something you work for and earn. It might be a need, like food, but more “goods” seem to be becoming “rights” in our culture, and this has troubling consequences. It might seem harmless enough to decide that people have a right to things like education, employment, housing or healthcare. But if we look a little further into the consequences, we can see that the workings of the community and economy are thrown wildly off balance when people accept those ideas.
First of all, other people must pay for things like healthcare. Those people have bills to pay and families to support, just as you do. If there is a “right” to healthcare, you must force the providers of those goods, or others, to serve you.
Obviously, if healthcare providers were suddenly considered outright slaves to healthcare consumers, our medical schools would quickly empty. As the government continues to convince us that healthcare is a right instead of a good, it also very generously agrees to step in as middleman. Politicians can be very good at making it sound as if healthcare will be free for everybody. Nothing could be further from the truth. The administration doesn’t want you to think too much about how hospitals will be funded, or how you will somehow get something for nothing in the healthcare arena. We are asked to just trust the politicians. Somehow it will all work out.
Universal Healthcare never quite works out the way the people are led to believe before implementing it. Citizens in countries with nationalized healthcare never would have accepted this system had they known upfront about the rationing of care and the long lines.
As bureaucrats take over medicine, costs go up and quality goes down because doctors spend more and more of their time on paperwork and less time helping patients. As costs skyrocket, as they always do when inefficient bureaucrats take the reins, government will need to confiscate more and more money from an already foundering economy to somehow pay the bills. As we have seen many times, the more money and power that government has, the more power it will abuse. The frightening aspect of all this is that cutting costs, which they will inevitably do, could very well mean denying vital services. And since participation will be mandatory, no legal alternatives will be available.
The government will be paying the bills, forcing doctors and hospitals to dance more and more to the government’s tune. Having to subject our health to this bureaucratic insanity and mismanagement is possibly the biggest danger we face. The great irony is that in turning the good of healthcare into a right, your life and liberty are put in jeopardy.
Instead of further removing healthcare from the market, we should return to a true free market in healthcare, one that empowers individuals, not bureaucrats, with control of healthcare dollars.