The Epoch Battle of Our Time
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Friday, September 18, 2009
It seems as though every statist has his favorite health-care reform and, more important, is convinced that his particular reform is the one that is finally going to make socialism and interventionism succeed.
I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but it just ain't gonna happen. Socialism and interventionism are inherently defective. They cannot be made to succeed. Even if the most brilliant set of minds comes up with the most brilliant health-care reform, the system will remain in chaos and crisis and, before long, people will once again be calling for reform and coming up with their favorite reform plans that they're convinced will finally make the system work.
The core reason why America's health care is in such a mess is owing to socialism and interventionism. That's what these people keep missing, and the reason they keep missing it is because they simply do not want to let go of their socialism and interventionism. They're too committed to the idea that government should be involved in health care and, for that matter, most everything else.
Thus, all their reform plans presume that socialism and interventionism are a given. No one is supposed to question the role of government in health care. Instead, everyone is supposed to just assume that socialism and interventionism are now a permanent feature in American life and come up with some silver-bullet reform that will finally make them work.
Suppose a group of people start beating their heads against a wall, all day long, day in and day out. After a while, they begin suffering headaches.
So, everyone decides to come up with reforms to cure the headaches. One reformer advises the group to pad the wall. Another reformer suggests taking pain relievers. Another recommends changing the position of the head. Everyone is convinced that his particular reform is ingenious and will succeed in stopping the headaches.
Then, along comes a libertarian and says, "Actually, none of these reforms is going to work because they don't get to the root of the problem." His suggestion: "Stop beating your heads against the wall!"
Immediately, the libertarian is hit with all sorts of vile and vituperative reactions: "You're an extremist! You're a radical! You're whacky! We need reform, not eradication. Be practical. Join the mainstream and help us come up with the right reform to cure the headaches."
In one sense, social problems are much like medical problems. If the doctor gets the diagnosis wrong, he's likely to get the prescription wrong. The same holds true for political and economic ailments that afflict the body politic.
The health-care crisis is rooted in Medicare and Medicaid, government regulation of the health-care and insurance industries, tax-code incentives for employer-provided medical insurance, and medical licensure.
Thus, there is but one solution to this mess: repeal all of those things. Don't reform them. Don't fix them. Just repeal them. Get government entirely out of the health-care business. Separate health care and state as fully and completely as our ancestors separated church and state.
The health-care debate reflects the battle of our age — the battle between those of us who are fighting to restore economic liberty and free markets to our land and those who are battling to extend statism. As Ludwig von Mises stated, "No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result. Whether he chooses or not, every man is drawn into the great historical struggle, the decisive battle into which our epoch has plunged us."
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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