I blog about free markets in medical care and transparent pricing.
I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone is a libertarian. For themselves. A small subset are libertarians for folks other than themselves. Human freedom and liberty are qualities that bind all of us, common goals of every human being on the planet. Any restriction of one’s freedom is instinctively met with anxiety or anger, an acknowledgement that something has been or is soon to be taken away that shouldn’t have been. Denial of your freedom seems and feels wrong to you. Denying another’s freedom doesn’t bother most folks as much.
“Don’t touch my Medicare,” a frequent threat from many otherwise libertarians is balanced by many physicians crying, “don’t touch my Medicare payments!” ”I’m all for smaller government as long as no one touches farm payments, medical research or the department of defense.” I’ve heard this countless times and so have many of you reading this. Sometimes statements like this are veiled so that the ulterior motive of “screw you as long as I get mine” isn’t so obvious. Sometimes these statements are made with the promise of “jobs” running shotgun for the crony advocating his brand of theft.
Sometimes the promise of a $200,000,000 “economic impact” is used to justify a $20,000,000 robbery. Many times the recipients of the $20,000,000 foist themselves on society as freedom lovers, making their fraud complete.
Harry Browne’s book “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World,” challenges us to examine ourselves first for these inconsistencies before we hurl insults at others, in the same way that Leonard Read challenged everyone. What arrangements or deals are we all involved in that are not mutually beneficial? That is the question that leads many from the self-libertarianism to a form more generalized that extends to everyone, I think.
Was charging a patient $83,000 for a drug for which a hospital paid $7500 represent a mutually beneficial exchange? Or was it a “gotcha,” hit and run sort of proposition? What would be the public reaction to a business operating in an open and free market that engaged in these tactics? The state has enabled this hospital to act in this manner and has even moved to shut down or prevent competitors from entering the market to compete with this outfit, all with the argument that we must protect our vital health providers.
While the Solyndra robbery and bank and auto bailouts are criminal acts, the takeover of health care by the same crony “capitalists” is dangerous to all of us in a more personal way. Watch for the “health entrepreneurs” who benefit from government largesse all the while claiming to be small government freedom lovers. While they may value their freedom, it is clear they do not value yours or mine.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.