Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I smell trouble coming

Okay Jan, you asked for it. (See Jan’s comment on my post below this one.) You want controversy? Here you go.

(BTW, don’t you love the British pronunciation of the word “controversy,” with the accent on the second syllable? If you’ve not heard it pronounced that way, watch some old British movies. "Con–TRAH–ver–sy.")

I learned a principle some years ago that helps me understand seemingly complex issues or problems. Simply stated, you take an issue to its extreme and see if (at that sometimes ridiculously extreme point) the rightness or wrongness of it doesn’t become apparent.

Example: This article regarding universal health care for all Americans.

Health care is a good thing, right? Of course it is. When I, or someone I’m close to, is sick or injured, I want to be able to have an adequately trained, licensed, insured professional treat the condition.

How about if the sick or injured person is a stranger to me? And how about if they have little or no money to pay for the treatment? Would I be willing to pay for their care? Er . . . Maybe.

But I’d have lots of questions. What care/treatment do they need (not want)? Is that treatment appropriate for them, for their condition, for their lifestyle? What will it cost? Are there alternatives? And many, many more.

And who says MY opinions about those questions and answers are “right” or “wrong?” Well, I say so, right? But do I really know? Who am I to make those decisions for someone else?

Ah! More to the point, who should make those decisions for ME?

I find myself thinking in circles.

Mr. Stein was asked these questions:

“Why should everyone be guaranteed free health care? And if we guaranteed to people goods and services they could not afford, where would it ever end? Where would it end short of assuming that everyone has a right to everyone else's property and labor?”

And then he began taking the issue to some extremes by asking:

“ . . . do I want to have patients seeing masseuses? Do I want them to be able to see the same psychiatrists that billionaires see? What about a nose job? A plastic surgeon could make up a medical need for a nose job or even a face lift. Where does it end?”

He continues down that philosophical road until he reaches its extreme end:

"If we have as a social rule that poorer Americans are required to have the same good things that rich people have, where is the stopping point? Where do we stop short of confiscatory taxation, taking away property, taking away affluent people's homes and basically abandoning the bedrock of the free society -- private property -- to achieve equality?"

Read the article. Mr. Stein does offer a few ideas (not really “solutions” though). But he does reach a conclusion about the debate, stated as:

“Maybe as important as health care is, individual freedom and private property are indispensable, too.”

Gee, ya think? This all gives me a headache.

I need some health care!


jan said...

Hey, John, ya done good!

I read so many blogs on both sides of issues. You know, the ones that have all the answers because they think they are experts and have no regard for counter arguments. I always wonder what they are omitting or misconstruing to make their point.

I think there is a definite need for someone who doesn't have all the answers, but finds well written articles and asks the questions that we all have.

Hale McKay said...

I fear that like so many other government sponsored programs, the end result of universal health care would be the creation of just another in a long line of bureaucracies staffed by fat cats who try to justify the preponderance of loopholes.