A Duty to Die
July 13, 2009

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." Thomas Jefferson said that some 200 years ago but he didn't have to pay for expensive health insurance or outrageous medical bills. But then, the government had nothing to say about medicine back then. Medicine was like any other good, subject to the same market forces and available and priced accordingly.

Those were truly the "good old days" before government intervention in the medical field. Once government got involved, at first simply by letting employers pay for their workers' medical care in lieu of increasing their wages, things began getting expensive and difficult. And it's been down hill ever since.

If you think the free market isn't a solution to the current medical mess try this: Go to any doctor or any hospital and ask for a detailed quote and a firm price for a hip replacement that you will pay for yourself. You will see jaws drop and eyes roll. First, because no one has ever asked for this before, second because they have absolutely no idea what or how many services and/or physical items will be billed, third because a great deal of unnecessary but defensive medicine will be ordered and finally because a number of services may be selected and billed rather than others because they bring higher payments from medicare or insurance than the other equivalently effective services. (Yes, Martha, doctors often do actually "game the system").

Now, let's try the same experiment in the medical free market right around the corner. Go to any of several Veterinarian clinics and tell them you have a 200 pound English Mastiff with hip displasia and ask for the same detailed quote and a firm price for a hip replacement that you will of course pay for yourself. From a surgical and medicinal point of view the two operations are essentially the same although your MD might argue the point. But the Veterinarian will give you a quote, down to the penny with a complete list of services and items used, an appointment within a week and the day and hour when your pooch can go home. Finally, if you actually did get a quote in the first instance, this quote will be a tiny fraction of the one above for three reasons; no government, no third party payer and no lawyers.

Yes, the real solution to the health care "crisis" is quite simple but if you think it's possible I have a bridge in Brooklyn you should buy from me first. As with most problems caused by government, government wants to "solve" this problem, not by getting out of the way but by taking over entirely. Think of it as "making the public health care crisis personal." Let the government take over health care and Thomas Jefferson's quote will morph quickly into "A government that can give you life saving medical care can deny you life saving medical care."

Just a very few years ago some people were lobbying hard for right-to-die legislation. They will find their wish more than fulfilled with Obama Care. When everybody's medical bills are paid for by everybody, i.e. when medicine is "socialized", a right-to-die because life is unbearable will become an obligation-to-die because in some bureaucrat's opinion the treatment you need will cost more than your extended life will be worth. The phrase "He's outlived his usefulness" will cease to be just a casual gibe.

Never happen in America, you say?

Folks politically aware back in '73 will remember the original Roe v Wade restricted abortions to prior to the "point at which the fetus becomes viable." Thirty years later they were aborting "fetuses" brought to term and delivered to all but the top of the head i.e. murdering babies. Gruesome stuff that. Back in '73 you wouldn't have believed it could get to that. But well before thirty more years go by, people now reading this will find their access to expensive life-saving care denied in favor of "saving the expenditure of scarce resources for someone younger and still a productive member of society." Hardly as gruesome but just as "personal".

Still you say,"Never happen in America."

Thirty years ago who would have thought a crime would have a prescribed punishment for one offender and an identical crime would have a far harsher punishment for another offender depending on his "reasons" for committing the crime? You didn't have "hate crime" legislation then but now you do. Back then the phrase "I disagree with what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" was still popular. Have you heard anyone say that lately?

Now here's the real irony, the same people who rage against their "rights lost under the US Patriot act" are in a rush to grant absolute control over their health care to the same government.