Watching the Democratic Party debates in 2019 should be surreal for anyone over the age of 35. If you grew up in a home in which your parents considered these “Hunger Games” mandatory viewing, it is safe to assume the general message is a head scratcher. It would be easy to predict the main theme if you pay attention to the news cycle, but if you are someone who only tunes in every four years, you’re probably asking yourself, “when did this become about making not only certain services free, but almost all of them?” The operative word in that question is services. It is something other people are providing for you.
Bernie Sanders screamed in the July 30th debate, “Health Care is not a business!” He, and all of the Democratic candidates, whether they believe one should be allowed to keep their employer provided health care or not, states clearly that their platform is access to a doctor is a right. A right can be defined as an entitlement, a sanction, a charter or an immunity. It should be clear where believing the service another person performs for you, should be “on demand,” leads.
When discussing taxation, many libertarians will bring up the fact that the American slave had 100% of their labor stolen from them. They will then query as to at what percentage of your wage being taken from you are you no longer a “slave.” 10%? 30%? 50%? The highest wage bracket in California, when one combines federal and state income tax, comes to 52%. Coincidentally, if your income in Sweden is 475,000 Kronor ($50,000 FRN), because of the “free” health care and other benefits, the same ones Sanders believes is a right, you will pay 52% of your income to the government. For one to believe the “middle class” under this scheme will not have to have their taxes raised is naive.
The version of health care Bernie wants is called single-payer. In this program, everyone, without exception, will have access to either a free, or very low deductible plan provided by the government. The most probable scenario for the USA would be that private health care providers would be paid a set amount for each procedure or visit, and the payment would be made directly by the government from tax dollars. What does this mean for the health care provider? Bernie would be correct in that health care would not be a business. Businesses are out to make a profit. Any profit motive would be removed, along with any motivation to get into a highly specialized field because your income would be at the mercy of the State. What if they decided they didn’t want to pay a doctor for a service, not to mention that doctors are now motivated to do additional procedures that may not be required so they can increase their cash flow. It’s clear where fraud could, and would, creep in rapidly.
Many may be compelled to make the argument that fraud is rampant now and the Affordable Care Act only benefits the insurance companies. They would be right. Pundits will often, with a straight face, remark that the problem with health care is that it is a free market. This is laughable. One need only notice that certain insurance companies are only allowed to operate in certain states to squash this absurd claim. A truly free market would allow as many exchanges as the market could support offering insurance anywhere. Abundance drives prices down and increases quality. This is true in television manufacturing, why couldn’t it be true in medicine?
Bernie Sanders and the democrats are proposing that they are competent enough to take over 17.9% of the economy. When a group (oh yes, the Republicans too) that has accumulated 22 trillion dollars in debt makes this desire known, the response from any logical individual should be laughter followed by contempt. A friend commented recently that if Bernie Sanders knew how to fix an economy, he would get on a Skype call with Venezuela’s Maduro and explain how to get out of their tragic situation. Why doesn’t Sanders do this? Because he doesn’t know what he’s doing any more than Maduro does. Bernie’s a placeholder for the next temporary dictator.
The most egregious claim made by Sanders, one that every libertarian should forcefully push back against, is that health care is a right, that one person has a claim over another’s labor. I would say that the principle that one owns himself is a core belief of the US founding documents, but that claim can’t be made, can it? With the teachings of Karl Marx being pushed upon a majority of college students, is it any wonder that people not only believe that this is their right, but that people who rebel against it are evil? Is there a solution?
Ludwig von Mises said, “Self-determination should be created at the local level.” The continuing belief that a group of people hundreds or thousands of miles away should have a monopolistic say in your life is an anachronism. Prince Hans-Adams of Lichtenstein wrote in his book, The State in the Third Millennium:
“The State should treat its citizens like an enterprise treats its customers. For this to work, the State also needs competition. We therefore support the right of self-determination at the municipal level, in order to end the monopoly of the State over its territory.”
The more choice an individual has, the more liberty they enjoy. Politicians, and their base, believe because they desire the State to do something, you should be forced to participate (something, something, social contract). How is this any different than their belief that a health care worker has a duty to work for them? It isn’t, it is all coercion. The absence of choice is tyranny, abundant alternatives is liberty.
Judge Andrew Napolitano was recently asked if he thought more liberty could be had by returning to the Articles of Confederation. Paraphrasing, he said he believed that for some territories it would definitely lift the boot off their necks, for others it would potentially get worse. The beauty of this would be that those who suffer the state or local boot could move somewhere where there are more choices. Of course, when this is brought up it is met with bristling from both sides. One group may be oblivious to this being an option. The other may wish you never found it. Now that you know it’s your choice to make.