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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wishing for Non-A

In a previous post, I discussed the health care crisis in moral and economic terms showing how egoism and freedom are the fundamental solution to the disaster caused by government intervention in medicine. In another post, I discussed the relationship of environmentalism, (today's primary pagan religion) to modern organized religion and compared them to the pagans and Christians of Ancient Rome. These issues are related in a fundamental way.

First, its important to reiterate the essential difference between free market medicine and socialized medicine which in principle is the essential issue underlying all economic debates between capitalism and socialism.

Those that support socialized medicine must logically support state sanctioned violence against doctors and patients.

This is absolutely true by virtue of the fact that the state must by threat of physical force (jail, execution, etc.) compel one person to pay for another persons medical care and/or compel a doctor to work against his will. In essence, they exhort the state to steal money on their behalf from others in order to pay their own bills. In addition, they demand that doctors live their life in service to their needs by either compelling their service through force and/or by not offering fair value in exchange for the doctor's services.

Under laissez-faire capitalism, physical force is banned from being initated by individuals or the state except in retaliation against those who initiates its use. Doctors and patients choose to deal with each other on terms deemed to be mutually beneficial and either party is free not to participate, i.e., a doctor may choose not to trade his services to a patient and a patient may choose not to see the doctor.

To further abstract, historically and logically what justifies the initiation of force against some for the unearned benefit of others (force which is necessitated by socialized medicine)? What ethical theory holds that self-sacrifice and self-abnegation is the "good" and that self-interest is evil? Of course, the answer is our old nemesis: altruism. In today's culture, it is the widespread acceptance of altruism as the good which justifies government intrusion into medicine despite the fact that such intrusion causes only chaos and misery. Furthermore, it is the dominance of religion and the utter bankruptcy of modern secular philosophy which perpetuates acceptance of altruism without challenge.

It is the theory of altruism as the good that needs to be challenged at its root if the wonders of modern medical science and the miraculous work of the American medical profession are to be saved.

This issue is the essence of the debate - not minutia over insurance regulations or medicare premiums. There is no free lunch. There is no magic government program that will somehow make medical care and prescription medication fall from the trees. There is no way to circumvent reality. Under socialism, either doctors must be made to work against their will or others must be made to pay the doctor on behalf of someone else. If the government runs its own hospitals then it must acquire the hospital by expropriating it by force from a private owner or by compelling funding from the public to pay for its construction. Similarly, either pharmaceutical companies must function as government agencies or someone must pay them for someone else's prescription.

Reality also dictates that the best and brightest will leave the field of medicine rather than become serfs akin to postal workers in a vast government bureacracy. This well known "brain drain" to other fields will only compound the "crisis" by reducing the supply of medical professionals.

What do those that clamor for government medicine think is going to happen? Will they pass a law to compel reality into making medicine free and doctors happy to be slaves? At least those that do support socialized medicine must be forced to admit that this is their position and be made to morally defend the states' initiation of violence against doctors and patients.

It is not a coincidence that over the last 100 years, socialism has only led only to violence, chaos, misery, and stagnation. It is not simply that it has been practiced by the wrong group of experts or somehow been corrupted. State violence is essential to socialism. How else does the state wrest control of private property or subsidize some at the expense of others? (see this sickening story for just the latest example http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070413/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/venezuela_oil_takeover_3)

In Capitalism: A Treatise On Economics (simply the best economics book ever), Dr. George Reisman eloquently, methodically and thoroughly shows how socialism leads to chaos and tyranny which I can only quote partially here (see www.capitalism.net for a pdf copy of the book or to order it):

"Socialism produces the same chaotic effects as price controls , because it destroys the same thing as price controls, namely, the one and only source of economic order and harmony in the world: private property rights and the profit motive..."

"The essential fact to grasp about socialism, which explains why it is essentially identical to price controls , is that it is simply an act of destruction. Like price controls, it destroys private owneship and the profit motive, and that is essentially all it does. It has nothing to put in their place. Socialsm in other words, is not actually an alternative economic system to private ownerhship of the means of production. It is merely a negation of the system based on private ownership..."

"The chaos of Socialism is equalled only by the tyranny of socialism. In abolishing economic freedom, socialism abolishes political freedom, In abolishing property rights, it abolishes civil rights. In a word, socialism means the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship..."

"In every instance in which socialism has actually been enacted, as ,for example, in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, Communist Cuba, and all the other communist- bloc countries, its totalitarianism has been manifest. It is only necessary to show why the violent, bloody means that have been employed to achieve socialsm and the perpetual reign of terror that follows thereafter , are no accident, but are caused by the very nature of socialism; why in other words, socialism is a thoroughly evil end, necessitating evil means for its achievment, and necessarily producing the most evil consequences."

What is the relationship between environmentalism, Christianity, the fall of Ancient Rome, and the health care crisis?

There is an ingenious passage from Atlas Shrugged (by Ayn Rand, 1957, p. 960-961) which ties these issues together by abstracting and reducing these arguments to philosophic essentials:

“What is the nature of that superior world to which they sacrifice the world that exists? The mystics of spirit curse matter, the mystics of muscle curse profit. The first wish men to profit by renouncing the earth, the second wish men to inherit the earth by renouncing all profit. Their non-material, non-profit worlds are realms where rivers run with milk and coffee, where wine spurts from rocks at their command, where pastry drops on them from clouds at the price of opening their mouth. On this material, profit-chasing earth, an enormous investment of virtue –of intelligence, integrity, energy, skill-is required to construct a railroad to carry them the distance of one mile; in their non-material, non-profit world, they travel from planet to planet at the cost of a wish. If an honest person asks them: ‘How?’ They answer with righteous scorn that a ‘how’ is the concept of vulgar realists; the concept of superior spirits is ‘Somehow.’ On this earth, restricted by matter and profit, rewards are achieved by thought; in a world set free of such restrictions, rewards are achieved by wishing.

“And that is the whole of their shabby secret. The secret of all their esoteric philosophies, of all their dialectics and super-senses, of their evasive eyes and snarling words, the secret for which they destroy civilization, language, industries, and lives, the secret for which they pierce their own eyes and eardrums, grind out their senses, blank out their minds, the purpose for which they dissolve the absolutes of reason, logic, matter, existence, reality – is to erect upon that plastic fog a singly holy absolute: their Wish.

“The restriction they seek to escape is the law of identity. The freedom they seek is freedom from the fact that an A will remain an A, no matter what their tears or tantrums -that a river will not bring them milk no matter what their hunger - that water will not run uphill, no matter what comforts they could gain if it did, and if they want to lift it to the roof of a skyscraper, they must do it by a process of thought and labor, in which the nature of an inch of pipe line counts, but their feelings do not - that their feelings are impotent to alter the course of a single speck of dust in space or the nature of any action they have committed.

When I read that passage for the first time, I recognized that it was a profound statement but did not entirely understand it. That all of the evil in the world was at root a desire for the world to be not what it is (or in her words that A be Non-A) is an idea so profound that it is hard to believe. Could all of the evil throughout history done by man from war to slavery to torture to every imaginable oppression of every kind really come down simply to “their Wish” for things to not be as they are. Truth is always simple in hindsight. It may take thousands of years to discover truth but once it is known it always seems simple to the point of being self-evident to the learned.

It took me years to fully appreciate and integrate the meaning of this idea and to learn why it is true. Yet, here is another example. Those that seek socialized medicine wish that reality was not what it is. They wish that medical care could be free. They wish that every time they are hurt they simply show up to a magic building with gadgets and medicines that arrived there somehow and someone cures them simply because they want it. They wish that somehow, if enough smart politicians get together with only the desire to form a "consenus" (as Obama might say) they could craft a program that this time will "work." How?

The relationship of this issue to religion must by now be obvious both epistemologically and ethically. The men wishing "to profit by renouncing the earth" or "mystics of spirit" are the religionists demanding sacrifice of our lives to god. The men wishing "to inherit the earth by renouncing all profit" ("mystics of muscle") are both the pagan environmentalists demanding that we stop producing as sacrifice for the earth and their socialist colleagues demanding "universal" health coverage and the sacrifice of the doctors to the needy or the "haves" to the "have-nots".

In a previous post, I asked if there was a rational solution to the false alternative offered by the "Mystics of Spirit" and the "Mystics of Muscle". The answer to this false alternative is a philosophy of reason, individualism, and freedom (see my links section).

And to those dreaming of heaven, a kingdom of God in the afterlife, water turning to wine, life without reason, production without freedom, production without utilization of the earth's resources, Gardens of Eden (at the perfect temperature), medicine without science, medicine without doctors who wish to be paid, pharmaceutical companies that don't work for profit, insurance companies that pay out more than they take in...

Keep wishing

p.s. I neglected an important link in my post "Why Health Care Costs are High..."
See the link for the pamphlet "The Real Right to Medical Care Versus Socialized Medicine" by Dr. George Reisman

(It is an in depth analyis of the economics and economic history of the medical "crisis" in America caused by the government starting with wage and price controls implemented in WWII. This is a comprehensive analysis that I only touched upon in my post.)

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