Friday, September 25, 2009

Healthcare and the Role of Money

Among the arguments used to promote socialized medicine, perhaps the most insidious is to denigrate money. Money, the basic argument goes, should not come between any person and the healthcare he needs. After all, no one should be “denied” treatment because of some provider’s selfish pursuit of profit.

What does this reveal about those who promulgate this line? I’ve had several opportunities to dissect various manifestations of it.

In response to an article by Amit Ghate, Misconstruing the Cause of Waste, Anonymous wrote:

Without government intervention in the health care market, most Americans would see no benefit from the advances in medical technology over the past fifty years. There is plenty of waste in a private market, but not all of this waste is in the form of money. Human potential is also wasted in the private system, that does not value human beings, but instead protects merely their money.

I want an option for medical coverage that doesn’t line the pockets of these folks, thanks.


Here is my brief response:

Anonymous condemns the money earned by the people who produce the valuable products and services without which there would be no healthcare debate. He demands “government intervention in the health care market” to grab by force for himself the “benefit from the advances in medical technology” so he doesn’t have to “line the pockets of these folks”… the very folks in the “private system that does not value human beings” who produce the goods that can keep Anonymous and his ilk healthy and alive.

“Peace”, he believes, will be the result of a [government-run public] “option” that uses its power of legalized physical force to provide for his healthcare needs.

Kathleen O'Neil of Toronto praises Canada’s healthcare system in a letter to the NJ Star Ledger, then says:

With a publicly organized health care insurance plan, you can concentrate on your health, instead of your bank balance.

So I put her words into proper perspective:

But your bank balance represents something profoundly moral...the money earned through your own productive work. Your money represents your means of purchasing the goods and services you need but that are produced by others. Your bank balance stands for your ability to earn your own keep.

By disconnecting "your bank balance" from your responsibility to "concentrate on your own health", Ms. O'Neil is in essence demanding that someone else be forced to pay for her health care.

The real soul of the advocates of a "Canadian-style", "publicly organized health care insurance plan" is the moocher.

Perry Leandro of Cranbury, New Jersey, leaves no doubt about his disdain for money in this Star-Ledger LTE:

As a species, we seem to believe we are highly evolved. But when I take a closer look, it becomes quite obvious we are really still very primitive because we labor under layers of illusions that allow us to severely mistreat each other.

A dollar bill is a piece of paper, nothing more and nothing less. We allow ourselves to believe a piece of paper with "one hundred" printed on it is more valuable than a piece of paper with "one."

We are smart enough to realize that money is only paper, yet we are willing to allow millions of our fellow humans to live without access to a primary care doctor simply because they lack the proper number of pieces of paper.

Pain and disease is true reality, the need to have constant access to a caring doctor is true reality. Holding back health care from people because they don't have enough paper is an illusion that only a primitive group would allow. We must strive to evolve to the point that everyone has access to care regardless of how much paper they possess.

Incredibly, Mr. Leandro seems to long for some form of primitive tribal society, in order to escape our “primitive”, advanced money economy! Here is my response to his ignorance:

Perry Leandro of Cranbury writes:

"A dollar bill is a piece of paper, nothing more and nothing less."

Then why do you receive those pieces of paper in exchange for the real products and services your productive work provides for others? And why can you then exchange those pieces of paper for real products and services you need and want, but that are produced by still others?

A civilized man sees money as a noble medium that stands for something - wealth that has been produced by human beings and made available to other human beings through the voluntary mutually advantageous transaction called trade. By making it possible to work for one person and purchase the work of another, the discovery of money led to the division-of-labor market economy that in turn made possible the huge advance from the primitive witch doctor to modern medicine.

A savage sees only that "A dollar bill is a piece of paper, nothing more and nothing less."

Perry Leandro says:

"Holding back health care from people because they don't have enough paper is an illusion that only a primitive group would allow."

There is nothing illusory about earning your own keep. As every civilized man knows, if you can't afford the price of another man's labor, you basically have only three moral choices - increase your earnings so you can afford it, rely on voluntary private charity, or do without. No one else is obligated to provide you with the necessities of life. As every civilized man knows, all wealth is produced and belongs to the individual human beings that earned it, not the primitive tribe. As every civilized man knows, you cannot consume that which you have not produced, nor consume more than you have produced (earned). And above all, you cannot acquire what others have produced except by voluntary, uncoerced means.

A savage sees providing for his own needs by his own efforts ... earning "enough paper" ... as an "illusion". A savage sees human evolution as returning to the brute force rule of the jungle or the cave dweller, where need is a license to steal rather than a spur to productive work - where "everyone has access to care regardless of how much paper they possess."

A savage sees an ant colony, not a human civilization that has discovered the capitalist market economy governed by the justice of voluntary production and trade, the principle of individual rights, and the nobility and vital necessity of money (which should be gold or gold-backed). A savage sees a primitive tribe that can confiscate and redistribute the property of its members at will, rather than a benevolent, non-coercive association of free individuals whose property is protected by a government of laws and not of looters.

The current healthcare debate reveals that we still have a lot of mental savages among us who long for the primitive world of witch doctors and the rule of the jungle. I'm sure that Perry Leandro is not one of them, just an uninformed soul who needs to grasp the primordial implications of what he is saying.

There is a common denominator linking Anonymous, Kathleen O'Neil, and Perry Leandro … the magic wand of the seekers of the unearned … attack money. Whether held consciously or subconsciously, the motivating factor of these three is the conviction that money is the root of evil. What is it about money that makes it evil? It is the tool of exchange among producers of the wealth that sustains us, and the symbol of the self-supporting man.

"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss--the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery--that you must offer them values, not wounds--that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods.” (AS, page 411)

In other words, the “evil” of money is actually the justice it represents. Acquire the work product of others through voluntary trade and contract by means of the medium of money, or take it by force … that is the basic choice. The honorable man chooses the first method. The dishonest can rarely openly admit his true intentions and motivations … not even to himself. So he falls back on that age-old formula the parasite has hurled at the producer. He declares the evil of money even as he employs the method of force to acquire from the provider the valuable products and services that give meaning to money.

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.” (AS)

And it is exactly that – the muzzle of a gun, via governmental action – that is expected to provide the healthcare of the people who refuse to “line the pockets” of the providers; who would avoid personal responsibility by severing their healthcare needs from their “bank balance”; who see money as “pieces of paper” unrelated to “true reality”.

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