Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Not so fast, Professor

Dr. Geoffrey A. Clark, one of those pretty much useless taxpayer-supported ivory-tower liberals (He's "a Ph.D. Regents' Professor at the School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University". We're sure that position adds a whole lot of value to society.) was fortunate enough to have a commentary about health-care "reform" published in yesterday's Arizona Republic. He (quite unscientifically, by the way) manages to turn a few personal anecdotal experiences into justifying transforming our entire health-care system into a government-ruled socialized mess bureaucracy, and he also takes the opportunity to bash the capitalist system that generously allows him to sit on his rear end in a campus office and pontificate on these types of issues:

"I've run out of patience with those who adamantly oppose a national health-plan option. Do they seriously think people whose principal goal is to maximize profit and minimize service are going to have the consumers' best interests at heart?

How is it that we have come to accept that an industry with uncontrolled growth in costs and little incentive for efficiency can continue to operate without controls or limits?

For what it's worth, my own view is that it is the right of every American to have access to comprehensive public health care and the obligation of the American government to provide it.

I've spent a lot of time abroad, and for some inscrutable reason, Europe and many parts of Asia somehow manage to provide universal health care without imposing an excessive tax burden on the citizenry, such that, in the event of a pre-existing condition or a medical emergency, it doesn't kill or bankrupt everybody except for the obscenely wealthy.

Every society is governed by a moral code comprising core values that express a concern for the common good and those that constitute opportunities for the creation of wealth. Socialism and capitalism are two sides of the same coin, and it is the balance between them, or more accurately, between the ideals expressed in their moral codes, that is of crucial importance.

Sure, socialized medicine doesn't work perfectly all the time, but it works far better most of the time for more of the people than the kind of care provided by the "death by spreadsheet" industry.

Case in point. I got sick in the nation of Jordan last spring, was taken to a hospital and was tested and treated for dehydration. Cost me $50, plus $11 for medicine. Jordan is a poor country, yet somehow can afford a national health plan for all its citizens (it also covers foreigners who, if they can afford to do it, pay a very modest fee).

Another example: I was in Spain in 2005 on an archaeological project. A Brit who was on the dig fell on the slippery surface of a cave floor and tore the ligaments in both knees. In short order, an ambulance arrived, an EMT extracted him from the cave, he was taken to a hospital where he was examined, X-rayed, medicated and then flown back to the United Kingdom, treated there and provided with physical therapy for six months - all covered by a comprehensive public-health plan. Didn't cost him a cent.

Many Americans who are critical of a national health plan appear to be oblivious of the fact that capitalism is both a blessing and a curse.

Although capable of generating wealth, a balanced view of capitalism must also acknowledge its historical record of exploiting the weakest and most vulnerable, its 19th-century dependence on slavery, child labor and poverty wages for factory workers, and - today - the corporate mandate to maximize profit by shifting underpaid work to laborers both here and abroad who are desperate enough to be exploited.

Capitalism is designed only to maximize profit. It has no inherent morality, no commitment to the public good and no respect for the public commons.

President Barack Obama should stick to his guns and use his very considerable powers of persuasion to push a public option through Congress. The past decade or so of capitalism run amok is more than a mortal can bear (this mortal, anyway). National health care is long, long overdue. We need it badly, and we need it now."

Our response to this nonsensical drivel, submitted to the Republic's editors and emailed to Dr. Clark personally:

"I would like to respond to Dr. G. A. Clark, who has apparently “run out of patience” with uneducated peasants such as me who “adamantly oppose a national health-plan option”. (“Practical reasons to have public option”, October 6, 2009).

I concur that people who run a private business in the manner that Clark describes (“to maximize profit and minimize service”) aren’t necessarily going to have their customers’ best interests in mind. That’s why people in a free society who are treated in such a manner are able to go and patronize another business, which confirms the capitalist principle of competition. If the government takes over health care, where else are people going to go should they receive shoddy or inadequate treatment from the Feds who, unlike too many businesses to count, can’t point to a single program that they’ve ever run in an efficient and successful manner? Since the U.S. government under the public option proposal is going to have to operate in the exact same manner or worse, effectively ration care in order to keep the costs of adding the health care of millions of people to our public debt in time of deep recession contained, Clark’s is a straw-man argument at best, and outright deception at worst.

Clark argues that countries such as Jordan and Spain provide care to their citizens for little or no out-of-pocket money on the part of the individual citizen, although he doesn’t reveal the confiscatory, controlling tax rates levied onto those populations that enables that sort of largesse. It’s also a fact that residents of those countries have significantly less freedoms and personal liberties than do American citizens. Are you willing to trade “essential liberties for a little temporary security”, as Ben Franklin put it? I’m not, and I agree with Franklin, who argued that such people deserve neither liberty nor security. I won’t even get into the fact that nowhere in the Constitution is it authorized for the federal government to force people to purchase something that they do not wish to possess.

Clark also flippantly lectures us that “Sure, socialized medicine doesn’t work perfectly all the time” (ironically confirming that the scheme President Obama is proposing, despite his vigorous denials to the contrary, is indeed the outright socialization of one-sixth of our national economy). Dr. Clark sure gets that point correct. Just ask the patients in Canada who have to wait upwards of nine months for a cardiac procedure, up to three years for a joint replacement or even two to three months for a routine MRI due to a lack of machines. How about the residents of Great Britain that have been diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration who have been informed that they must wait to go blind in one eye before receiving sight-saving medicine?

Finally, Clark accuses the concept of capitalism itself of “having no inherent morality”. Governments don’t have morality, Dr Clark; individuals do. Oh, and by the way, sir, are you seriously positing that socialism does have morality? Go tell that fallacy to the estimated 100 million people who were exterminated in the 20th century under such apparent Clark heroes as Mao, Stalin, Pot and Castro. I would also point out factors such as the thousands of American soldiers who died during the same period to bring freedom and liberty to oppressed people all over the world, our unmatched humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts and our tradition of agitating for liberty for people all over the globe (excepting Obama’s recent non-efforts in that arena in places such as Iran and Honduras). If any country has a claim to morality, it is certainly the United States.

In the United States, freedom is the opportunity to live one’s life as they choose without interference from the government, regardless of whether those choices are wise or foolish. Forcing citizens to participate in a Ponzi-style health-care scheme that the majority of people want no part of is contrary to our very core beliefs and traditions, and a practice I personally believe has no place in our nation."

We'll let everyone know if the paper's editors deem our counterpoint print-worthy.


Bike Bubba said...

My response would have been short and sweet: yes, in capitalism, businesses exist to make a profit, and many choose to maximize their profits. Now, how exactly is a person going to maximize profits without providing a good or service that is profitable to the customer?

And how exactly is a profitless system to determine what is, and is not, the benefit to the consumer?

(this is, for reference, the basic Austrian economic critique of socialism.....that you cannot responsibly allocate resources without a price system and profit motive)

triptyx said...

I find it highly entertaining that one of our intellectual "betters" would state
How is it that we have come to accept that an industry with uncontrolled growth in costs and little incentive for efficiency can continue to operate without controls or limits?
and not even realize that what he describes is the very Federal Government he is trying to put in control of MY LIBERTY.

He wants Socialized Medicine, fine. Let him move to one of the many states that have tried it and are failing miserably at it.

In the meantime, leave me and mine alone. III

Kerry H said...

Very well written. Bravo!