Government health-care diagnosis: Dependency

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The claim: The United States is the richest nation in the world, and as a matter of decency should pay for the health care of all Americans who can’t afford to pay for their own.

The truth: The United States is not the richest nation in the world; we are the richest debtor nation in the world. We literally owe trillions of dollars — not just in the national debt, but also in unfunded liabilities for various entitlements.

The problem: The United States doesn’t really pay for anyone’s health care with its own cash supply, but rather requisitions money from individual taxpayers and appropriates it to someone else’s medical bill.

The solution: An educated populace. As Thomas Jefferson noted, education gives “to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business.” In this case, such education would help citizens to understand that their business — their personal needs — cannot rightly be  advanced at the expense of some other citizen’s life, liberty or property.

I have laid it out plainly, yet the plain truth is that for the past hundred years, an agenda of obfuscation has sought to convince Americans to accept compulsory health care — seemingly incognizant of the fact that compulsion is nothing more than a fancy word for slavery. Demanding that a doctor or a hospital provide health care to those unwilling or incapable of paying for it is forced labor. Taking money earned by one worker and using it to pay for health care for another worker is theft.

It is no coincidence that this leftist agenda has made its largest advances when times were tough. Franklin Roosevelt planted the seeds of a program of national health insurance during the Great Depression in 1938, and Barack Obama reaped the bitter fruit of Obamacare during the Great Recession in 2010. When people are desperate, they will turn anywhere for help — and on the surface, government health care sounds like a huge relief to poor families.

But the fact of the matter is that government interference in health care through massive regulatory authority over the past 50 years, as well as through imposition of Medicare and other federal health programs, has actually been the main impetus for the skyrocketing costs of medicine. And now the unaffordable cost of health care is being used to promote the necessity of government stepping in to “fix” the problem it caused in the first place. Talk about racketeering!

And yes, I understand the generosity of spirit that yearns to lift the burden off the shoulders of our neighbors, but the lever that accomplishes that goal should never be balanced on the fulcrum of government. Rather, it needs to be raised high by the charitable spirit of our people.

That is true for numerous reasons, but two will suffice. First of all, government doesn’t care how much it pays for products or services because it is not government’s money — it is OUR money. This results in vastly inflated expenses for health care as for other services. Secondly, the beneficiaries of charity are much more likely to take to heart the sacrifice of those who have donated to them than to show even the slightest gratitude for a government welfare program. Informed that their neighbors helped them, most people will work to either pay it back or “pay it forward,” but told that the government helped, most people will ask, “What took them so long?”

In addition to that sense of entitlement, government money also creates a sense of dependency because it is institutionalized charity that people grow to depend on, encouraging them essentially not to strive to better their own lives because their immediate needs are already being met with no particular effort. And that benefits only government and politicians, by making them seem like the essential providers of our needs.

That dependent dynamic was addressed by a 1949 editorial writer in The Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, as follows:

“A welfare state is nothing more or less than a society in which everybody looks to the government for everything. The welfare state politicians would like to include health in their program, for the simple reason that nearly everybody would be involved. It would clinch once and for all their proposition that government is the ultimate source of public welfare.”

I am not insensitive to the fact that I am currently on the losing side of this battle, but I maintain hope that common sense will prevail in the years ahead. And I believe the fact that Obamacare was passed on a strictly one-party vote has created the very conditions that were foreseen in 1949:

“...in submitting such a proposition, the welfare statists have asked for a showdown. The question is whether or not those who believe the United States prospered became it steered clear of government control in the past, and will prosper in the future if it continues to do so, will be able to defend their position against welfare state politicians.”

No one can be sure of the outcome of such a great battle, but as the Affordable Care Act spreads the government’s tentacles through every family and every business in America, the warning of that editorial writer 65 years ago still resonates today.

— That “citizens should not become dependent on government except in emergencies.”

— That “private enterprise should not be placed under political control.”

— That “the people know more about taking care of themselves than their government knows — or cares.”

— That “the power to tax is the power to destroy.”

Before it is too late, let us hope that our nation’s leaders wake up and acknowledge that those principles are the very bedrock on which our country was founded. And if following those fundamental American principles means that we have to sacrifice cheap health care, at least it shall be a sacrifice waged to preserve our liberty, which was bought even more dearly — with blood and sacred honor.

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