By Jacob Hornberger
Not surprisingly, liberals are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare, the socialistic healthcare program that was established under the political regime of President Lyndon Johnson. A good example is New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote a piece a few days ago entitled “Zombies Against Medicare,” in which he extolled this governmental program.
Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial security for seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.
First of all, let’s get one thing clear. Krugman has it all wrong about conservatives or those he calls the “right wing.” Even though conservatives will carp about Medicare, just as they carp about other socialist and regulatory programs, the last thing that conservatives want to do is repeal them. After all, every conservative in the country knows that if such programs were terminated, conservatives wouldn’t have anything to carp about anymore.
Thus, the most you’ll ever see conservatives doing is advocating their own brand of reform of these socialist programs, reforms that usually just amount to a variation of economic fascism — i.e., an economic system in which the government permits people to keep their money and then orders and directs them on what to do with it.
It’s only libertarians who call for the immediate repeal of Medicare as well as the rest of the welfare state. Thus, while conservatives talk in terms of “privatization, “choice,” and “free-market oriented,” which are nothing more than euphemisms for government programs based on the principles of economic fascism, libertarians talk in terms of repeal and abolition and restoring a genuine free market healthcare system to our land.
The United States once had the finest healthcare system in history, one in which doctors loved what they did in life. That was before Medicare (and Medicaid). Once LBJ, who revered President Franklin Roosevelt for having foisted a welfare state onto America in the 1930s, got Medicare (and Medicaid) enacted, the die was cast. From that point on, healthcare costs began to soar, followed by a series of Frankenstein-like reforms that ended up destroying America’s healthcare system. Need I mention that doctors today absolutely hate what they do in life and can’t wait to get out?
Krugman says that Medicare didn’t destroy freedom. That’s only because of the way that liberals define freedom — by the ability of people to get into other people’s pockets through the coercive apparatus of the state. The more that people are able to do that, specifically through the IRS and welfare-state agencies, the “freer” liberals consider them to be.
But that’s not how libertarians define freedom. For us, freedom is the right to keep everything you earn and decide for yourself what to do with it. Once we view freedom in that way, it’s pretty easy to see how Medicare (and Social Security and the rest of the welfare state) has destroyed freedom by using the coercive apparatus of the state to take money from people in order to fund other people’s medical expenses.
Krugman assures everyone that they can sleep easy despite the ever-growing expenses of Medicare, a program, in his words, “whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer looks disastrous.”
Really? I know that Krugman is familiar with Greece because he’s written many columns on that bankrupt country. Does he honestly think that the United States is immune to what happens when a government engages in out-of-control spending and debt?
Think about how much debt that U.S. government has already incurred with its deficit spending on both the welfare state and the warfare state. It now amounts to more than $18 trillion. It’s growing by the second. U.S. officials continue marching down the same road. Every time the debt ceiling is reached, the mainstream press screams like banshees to raise it again, and Congress and the president dutifully oblige.
Yet, note something important here: That debt does not include future outlays by Medicare and Social Security. That’s because under the law the government doesn’t really owe that money. It’s not considered a federal debt because both of these programs are nothing more than welfare programs, which can theoretically be repealed (as libertarians favor). But as a practical matter, we all know that liberals and conservatives have absolutely no intention of repealing them.
When the big crisis comes, liberals will say what they always say: that the crisis is because there isn’t enough socialism and because there’s still too much economic freedom. All we need to do, they will say, is take one more step in the direction of Cuba, aiming ultimately toward a full government takeover of healthcare, and then, they will say, everything will be hunky-dory.
After all, isn’t that how we got Obamacare — by liberals telling us that America’s ongoing healthcare crisis had nothing to do with Medicare and Medicaid and other governmental intervention into healthcare and that one more gigantic totalitarian-like healthcare intervention would cure America’s healthcare woes? How’s Obamacare working out for America?
Medicare and the rest of the welfare state (and the warfare state) are a cancer on the body politic. They are killing our country. Both liberals and conservatives are quacks whose policy prescriptions should be rejected. There is only one way to treat cancer: Eradicate it.
This article was originally published at The Future of Freedom Foundation.