Welfare statists have long smeared advocates of free markets as being indifferent to the suffering of others. Justice Sonia Sotomayor employed this tactic against attorney Michael A. Carvin during his rebuttal to the government’s Supreme Court defense of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which held that without it, health insurance rates would rise.
As Ari Armstrong noted in his Carvin argued that congress itself created this state of affairs through ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions mandate, and cannot rightly claim the constitutional authority to impose an individual mandate based upon its own culpability. But Sotomayor, raising the specter of children of uninsured parents being turned away from an emergency room, asked: “[D]o you think there’s a large percentage of the American population who would stand for the death of that child?”
There isn’t because, as Ari Armstrong pointed out, “Americans left free have never been so callous as to allow such a thing—which is why no one can point to an era in which Americans did.” The facts back this up. As Yaron Brook and Don Watkins elaborate in their Forbes column America before the Entitlement State, compassionate charity abounded in early and pre-Twentieth Century America.
Carvin bristled, calling Sotomayor’s allegation “One of the more pernicious, misleading impressions that the government has made” against ObamaCare’s opponents.
It is also pernicious to assume that proponents of rights-violating government control of healthcare in any form are champions of children’s well-being. That moral high road rightly belongs to the champions of free markets.
Historically, as Andrew Bernstein documents in The Capitalist Manifesto, poverty was so grinding and the state of medicine so primitive that child mortality often exceeded 50%.
That all changed in America (and the West) with the advent of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution it spawned. As prosperity consequently soared and the quality of healthcare improved, childhood mortality rates began a steady, dramatic long-term decline that commenced in the late 18th Century, long before the arrival of the modern entitlement welfare state. By one estimate, childhood mortality fell 50% in the 19th Century alone.
It was only the recognition of unalienable individual rights and limited, rights-protecting government--principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence--that made those events possible. Justices who uphold laws that undermine the Declaration’s principles are assaulting the very foundation of medical progress and prosperity. Every time Sotomayor and her ilk uphold statism over individual rights, America takes another regressive step toward the days when children literally died in droves. If, to paraphrase Sotomayor, the American population understood the stakes, I doubt they would stand for the death of our freedom.