Collectivized Care: Keystone of the Statist Society

The Canada Health Act, the crown jewel of the CCF, and Liberal Party is the most characteristic attribute that comes to mind with any discussion of Canada. Some writers even say that the State-run healthcare has become part of Canadian cultural identity. It is not just that Canadians have forgotten that the market ever provided these services, they now identify personally with this collectivization of force. Universal health care is lauded as the magic wand solution to providing health care to people, but this is simply not the case. Here a passage  that defends medicare on the grounds that opinion polls at the time of the Saskatawan passage overwhelmingly supported the measure.

“The CCF in particular helped initiate a number of social measures. Its most prominent contribution was in the field of health care. Despite arguments by the medical profession that doctor-controlled and private medical insurance were better than a national government health program, public opinion polls in 1944 and in 1949 showed that 80 percent of Canadians wanted a federal health plan that would cover complete medical and hospital care for a monthly flat rate.” [ref]“A Brief History of the Saskatchewan NDP”, History tab of Saskatchewan NDP website. [][/ref]

But the popularity of a measure, itself, is not a virtue.  Wanting to partake in the plunder of another person’s money and savings to bolster one’s own health is not compassion, it is theft. As Bastiat wrote, this is a system where everyone plunders everyone under the pretense of helping everyone. It simply makes no sense to violate people’s property under the guise of helping them. A helpful analogy to make sense of this is his famous Broken Window Analogy. Suppose that I throw a stone through a baker’s window and shatter it to pieces. Some would say that this is a good thing because it has created business for the glass maker and window fitter, thusly improving the economy. But it is written that this is not so, because in providing business to the glass maker, no real wealth was produced. Instead of investing money in expanding or improving his/her bakery, the baker had to spend that money on fixing the window. When additional bread and a window could have been enjoyed, now only a window is. No wealth was created by these events, but rather is was destroyed.

It is the same story with a healthcare system funded by heavy taxation. What is seen is that people are provided healthcare, but what is unseen is that citizens are stripped of money that could have been used to pay for their own cheaper healthcare, and also help out their neighbor by donating to healthcare charity fund. Publicly run health care appears to be cheaper because the cost is out of sight and out of mind until tax day.

For one thing, Canada’s system is a single tier system also known as single-payer in which only the government provided option is permissible- with some small private exceptions. I find it peculiar that socialist, statists, and social planners object most loudly to monopoly in business, but then defend a near monopoly when it is held by the State. The reason for this is a number of well-intended myths about healthcare. The first myth is that healthcare is a human right.

I have already addressed the topic in my publication on The Humble Libertarian, What Are Human Rights?,[ref]Sharp, Eric. “What Are Human Rights?”, The Humble Libertarian Sunday, July 11, 2010. [][/ref] in which I argue the following. “I have often heard it loudly proclaimed, as if bellowed atop a great mountain in triumph, that x is a “human right” -everything from food, clean water, education, and even health care. The socialists … routinely make such proclamations. But are any of these things a human right? As flowery and “compassionate” as it is to say yes, I must put my foot down. Food, water, health care, education, all of these things are very important. Certainly I want everybody to have these things. But here is my barometer of whether something is a right: Can you demand this “right” from a stranger? Neither you nor I can stop someone on the street and demand to be educated. It is equally as silly to stop a doctor and demand heart surgery, or an inspection of an ingrown toenail. The stranger is not obligated to teach nor to look at your toenail.“ [.,ibid.]

Now this is not to say that the doctor shouldn’t help someone who is ill, and certainly isn’t to suggest that people shouldn’t give their money to help people in need. But what this analogy of asking a stranger who is a doctor for health care reveals another important point about healthcare, which is that is a service, it is a product. As a service, naturally there will be some who are better equipped to offer these services than others. So it necessarily follows that these medical service providers, some call them doctors, must compete for customers. In a more morbid sense, they must compete for your wound. In this environment where medical service providers compete against each other for customers, prices for services must necessarily go down. The compassionate among us may raise the objection that there are persons without money or without enough of it to pay for these services. This is where a network of charities can cover these people. Will they spring up over night? No, but the welfare state prevent them from arising because psychologically these problems are already taken care of. These days with the new technologies of the Internet, email-direct mail, and electronic money transfer there tantilizing new ways to compassionately and voluntarily care for other needy Candians.

Additionally however, people need to take a degree of self-responsibility for their healthcare. Which is why Health Savings Accounts are such an attractive option. They allow people to deduct from their taxes a certain amount of money and squirrel that money in a health savings account (HSA) this allows individuals to take control of their own health care. As written in Healthy Competition

“HSAs represent a milestone in health care policy, for they help restore the right to choose one’s doctor and one’s health insurance, to own one’s health insurance policy, and to save for future medical needs. HSAs replace the perverse incentives involved in paying providers on the basis of volume with rather than health plans and networks, as Porter and Teisberg recommend. HSAs represent a significant departure from the prevailing culture of health care in America, focusing producers’ attention on the needs of consumers, and all parties on the need for greater economy and innovation.”[sensible incentives that result from paying providers on the basis of value. HSAs encourage providers to compete for individual patients [ref]Cannon, Michael F. & Tanner, Michael D. “Healthy Competition”, pg 12 2nd paragraph. Copyright © 2007 by the Cato Institute., Washington  D.C.[/ref]. I submit to you that if the Canadian State would allow such things as individual choice in healthcare HSAs could work very well for Canadians.

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One Response to “Collectivized Care: Keystone of the Statist Society”

  1. Ohhh Henry says:

    Being in its essence a violation of property rights, therefore an inversion of common sense and morality, the state must do a lot of propagandizing if it is to maintain popular tolerance or support. The best defense is a good offense. That is why the worst acts done by a state are not only defended, but so aggressively promoted as to make it impossible to attack them. The worst crimes ever committed by the Canadian government against its own people are its conscription of Canadians into war, and the imposition of socialist medical care. Being essentially acts of robbery and mass murder, these government actions are turned on their heads and portrayed not as disasters, but as triumphs. Instead of seeing them as the worst things to ever happen to Canadians, most people have been brainwashed into thinking that these are the very best things about their country.

    I do not support the use of HSAs because I reject any role for the government in determining what money I can save for medical care, or dictating to me what I can buy with this money and how much I can pay for it. Being essentially a racket in which doctors and unionized medical workers and bureaucrats pick the pockets of Canadians, I see no great advantage in having the choice of whether to support this racket with either tax money or conscripted savings.

    If anyone in the government is seriously considering HSAs then you can bet it's seen as a cash grab aimed at keeping the doomed medicare pyramid scheme running just a little bit longer … just long enough for the senior bureaucrats and politicians who are hatching the plan to run out the clock and be put out to pasture with a secure, inflation-proof pension.

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