Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What would YOU do if you saw someone sick, or …

As a way of trying to lead someone into either being painted as an uncaring, mean-spirited rube or to bolster the position that there is a need for free health care is to ask: what would you do if you saw someone without funds, sick or dying. It has been asked numerous times, especially with the push for Obama’s health care law, justification for Romney’s MA health coverage, and beyond to the importance of health care as a topic in the Republican nominee for President debates.

The very verbiage of the question (by intent) sets up a mutually exclusive response: either the one asked must agree that the State must be allowed to come in and save the infirmed, or the infirmed will suffer and die. This dichotomy is false, and used as it is, a shameful ploy; by saying that we are not for the State to use legal force against one to help another by no means that we are for the infirmed one’s suffering.

If any one of us sees someone sick, or potentially dying on our front yard, we have one of three responses to make: 1) ignore them, which is total irresponsibility (responsibility here as taking direct action with a specific focus) on, and won’t deal with the issue; 2) kick them off the property, which is responsibility on the expulsion, but just pushes the issue away; 3) assist them to the extent one thinks and feels is right, which is the beginning of taking care of, taking some responsibility and alleviating the issue.

Which option is it when the State is to take care of the infirmed? It is, in actuality, option 1. It is ignoring self-responsibility when confronted with an issue, wanting to have the State come in and take over. This doesn’t take care of the issue, while it doesn’t force the issue away; it just enables one to look away with a clear conscience. A system will be created that someone, somewhere will take care of the infirmed, somehow.

Notice, the first action is diverting responsibility. It is an embracing of a ‘We’ve thrown money at it, and that’s enough’ mentality. If one was actually interested in the health and well-being of the infirmed, they wouldn’t just pass on the responsibility, but make sure the care received was timely, appropriate and economical: timely, to address urgency; appropriate to deal with the actual infirmity; economical for time and money are limited, so those resources could be maximized. A couple key points (among numerous other points) to focus on with universal coverage, or any other form of State-covered/assisted care: 1) it doesn’t increase the suppliers of health care, but does increase the number of people going to those suppliers; 2) with the coverage/assistance, it will prompt the larger pool to use it more often. Flooding demand, and not increasing supply will not make care more timely, appropriate or economical. Or, in other words it will be health care ‘tragedy of the commons.’

With the dichotomous manner the [State-covered or infirmed die] question asked, the best option is ignored: individuals taking the initiative to help: charity. This is in both areas of individual acts at the moment (helping someone who fell get back to their feet), and in organizations others may come to (individuals volunteering and forming groups): offering a hand directly, or pooling resources to create a charitable organization/medical service. Its psychological fact, the less direct responsibility one has to something, the less one feels vested into that something; this is in both closeness (proximity) to that thing, as well as when one is blended in a crowd (anonymity) – someone, somewhere, somehow. Privately, and voluntarily, there is a direct investment in whatever charitable offerings that may be made. Instead of the throwing money at a problem attitude, there will be actual oversight to make sure care is timely, appropriate and economical.

The aforementioned is on a pragmatic consideration; there are also moral issues to consider. Some will state the moral issue is about leaving the infirmed alone to suffer; that is following their lead in their false dichotomy. There are other moral issues to consider. Like most other aspects in politics, the goal may not actually reflect one’s values and moral positions as much as their plans of implementing those goals. It isn’t just about wanting to help the infirmed, but how to help them. How does the State assist the infirmed?—through laws. Laws mean that through the legal use of force, those who managed to create and earn wealth will have it taken from them. That wealth will then be put into a system where there is a high degree of indirect responsibility and little oversight. The end is to give the wealth to those who need help and aren’t able to afford things themselves; through force, wealth to pay for services is taken from those who have and given haphazardly to those who have not. Where is the morality in the use of force to take wealth?—the use of force to throw money at a problem?—the use of force to acknowledge someone needs help, and to put them into a system that is flooded, meaning they cannot get timely, appropriate or economical care? There is no morality in any of it, and illness does not justify theft or enslavement.

The proper way of answering the question is to turn it around. When I state by turning it around, I mean by instead of allowing the asker to lead us into their false dichotomy, to ask them what would they do, for they see the infirmed in order to direct us to allow the State to take our means of sustaining ourselves in order to help that infirmed one. “What will YOU do?-you who also sees someone who needs help.” And, continue “I advance private, voluntary help, not the threat of force that doesn’t directly assist, but indirectly helps through the direct threat of force. Don’t just state someone (else) or something (State) will step and take responsibility for you. What will YOU do?”

The free market and free people help others in ways that are more timely, appropriate and economical. The State is a way to humor oneself that something is being done to benefit the infirmed, while what is mostly being done is the easing of one’s conscience. If the goal is helping those who need it, the way to do help is by private, voluntary actions, with local implementation. It isn’t legal or moral for anyone to take a gun and rob another to take their wealth to pay for any bills; it isn’t something that can be made moral through numbers voting on it. Get the State out of the way, and stop it siphoning the limited resources and much more can be done, and done morally.

Morality first; pragmatism second.

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