Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

The Interwebs are awash in condemnation of the Tea Party, claiming that members of the audience in last night's Republican debate cheered letting an uninsured man die. Not that I'm one to stand up for them, but I come away with a different take. First the audience cheered when Ron Paul said, "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks." When specifically asked if we should just let the man die, there were a couple of supporting outbursts from the audience but no applause. Paul answered that we shouldn't let the man die but was unable to truly answer the question as to what he would do in this hypothetical, yet very plausible, situation. Rather than addressing it, he referred back to when he started practicing medicine in the early 1960's and talked about how nobody was turned away at the hospital and "the churches took care of them." That brought on applause.

To me the cheers were for freedom to take your own risks and allowing the churches to take care of people along with hospitals not turning people away. I don't believe the audience members were aware of the contradiction they were applauding. Sure, be free to do what you want, but don't expect the government to take care of you. Expect the churches and hospitals to do it instead. Anybody except the government. They were rooting for the idea that self sufficiency is great as long as anyone except the government is helping you. Or something like that.

Ron Paul continues with this view, explaining that costs are so high simply because the government is involved. For him, taking care of ourselves and our neighbors and friends is okay as long as the government is out of the picture.

We've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends. Our churches would do it. This whole idea--that's the reason the costs are so high. Because it's so high because we dump it on the government, becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests.

Yeah...as if special interests would disappear.

1 comment:

todd said...

I appreciate that you took the time to analyze this more than those others on the Interwebs.

You said Paul "was unable to truly answer the question as to what he would do". Yet that wasn't the question. It was "Who's gonna pay for if he goes into a coma...for example...Who pays for that?" which I assume meant "Who do you think should pay for that?"

Paul suggests that in the past, private groups did so. I think you're misunderstanding him if you think he feels people should "Expect the churches and hospitals" to pay. Paul's point about risk would lead me to think he feels risks would not be avoided in the first place by a population which "expected" others to pay for their poor choices or circumstances.

I feel like you're saying you don't understand the opinion of the audience (or Paul) that private groups such as churches are any different from the govt. I'm referring to your saying "anyone except the government" & "as long as the government is out of the picture."

They in fact are very different when viewed by someone who do not appreciate being forced to pay for the misfortunes of others.

To suggests the govt should pay for this hypothetical man's 6-month hospital stay, is to force every citizen (likely already dealing with their own troubles) to now divert some of their money towards helping him.

Forcing a person to help someone else of course helps the beneficiary. But it places a hindrance on the person you've force to do the helping. One must ignore the opportunity costs you're putting on those you've forced to help to see only the benefits.

The difference between private groups and the govt is that the former can donate money or assistance voluntarily as their members feel capable. Which is very different from forcing people, who perhaps are not or do not feel capable to transfer their money to the govt so it can be routed to this man in the coma.

While it seems inhumane to deny this man the treatment he needs for 6 months is it any less humane to force someone else to pay for his hospital stay especially if as it starts to extend into month 7, 8, 9, etc? At month 34 would one make the same argument?

We might not be able to put a price on a person's life, but we can't pretend that forcing people to pay for the misfortunes of others is noble or in some way the mark of a moral society.

It's the view of many conservatives or libertarians that our govt currently helps people too much through this system of forced donations without considering the harm they're causing those who are paying. It's also our view that by setting up these policies you teach the population to "expect" they will be "bailed out" of any bad situation they find themselves in.

We could guard people from risks one at a time by legislating more and more laws which restrict risky activities (bicycling, driving at night, swimming) but each would also restrict our freedom to live life as we choose. As Paul said "That's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks..."