Forty nine years ago a fiery little Welshman called Aneurin Bevan captured the imagination of tens of millions of war-wearied Brits by asserting loudly and often that EVERYONE had the right to free health care, and that he was going to see that they all got it. Universal Free Health Care was one of the main battle cries of the Labour Party in that historic 1945 Election, which sealed the fate of the British Empire and Nation, and by and large the voters bought it.
Half a century later, they are still struggling to pay for it.
The tragedy here is, that we are hearing the same nonsense all over again, and, incredibly, are believing all the same lies just as if they had never been told before, and just as if they had never been proven wrong!
The fiction of Free Universal Health Care must be powerful medicine. We're told there is a drug-addiction problem in this country; well, maybe we've just found it. Anything that can warp the common sense of tens of millions of otherwise intelligent Americans must give quite a high.
BOTH Old Parties
Most noticeable after the Clintons had spent a couple of weeks last year hawking their (literally) incredible new Plan, was that Republican spokes- persons had already abandoned the high ground and were just quibbling about "how" instead of "whether". They've been confused and contradictory ever since.
Many of them say that the "principle" of universal coverage is accepted by all (!) but that they think they have plans to provide it better than the Dems. Funny they didn't tell us that during the 12 years they ran the White House.
So although the Republican Socialists may not be as strident as the Democratic Socialists like Hillary Clinton (or Nye Bevan), they have marked themselves as Socialists anyway; wedded to the collectivist ideal. R.I.P., G.O.P.
Even so, there are critics of the details of the Clinton Plan and, to their credit, some of them are following the wise principle of TANSTAAFL; There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. They question, rightly, how it can be paid for.
I'd like us to go deeper than that, and look at the root principle of whether it ought to be paid for.
Why Not, Anyway?
So far I've not heard a cheep out of the Perotistas on this issue, so it seems this stampede of the Republicrat lemmings leaves the Libertarians as the sole remaining practitioners of calm and principled reasoning. Their "Project Healthy Choice" plan is a model of how (and why) sharply to reduce, not increase, the degree of government meddling in the health care industry.
Let's list some of the ways that universal, government-mandated health insurance would be dead wrong, even if - by some of the strong magic that seems to permeate the D.C. water supply - it could readily at first be paid for.
1. It Denies Choice . Ironic, that the people who most loudly (and rightly) insist on choice in pregnancy-related health matters, are the very ones most loudly calling to deny it in the round.
There's disagreement on whether Hillarycare will prevent us choosing our own doctor, but we do know it will deny us the choice of self-insurance. I explored that at greater length in another edition of this column, but in brief, that means that the approximately 30 million Americans who now could afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, would be prohibited from doing so in the future; they would be charged the cost of it whether they wanted it or not.
That ugly compulsion is perfectly typical of Government Man. One common example of it is their School Monopoly; we all have to pay for it whether we want it or not, use it or not and like it or not.
2. It Lets Bureaucrats Decide . When you and I pay for something directly, or even indirectly through a private insurance policy that we can choose to change or terminate, we get to call the shots. If the government pays, there's no question: our health-care decisions WILL be taken by people like the folks who stockpiled chemical weapons. That alone could make you ill!
3. It IDs us all . The government's SS Card and Drivers' License are bad enough, but the Clinton Health Care "entitlement" card will finally give it a way to track every last one of us. "Don't leave home without it" will take on a new and highly sinister overtone; it will no longer just be friendly advice.
4. It Opens Records . Medical records, that is; open to any Government Department that cares to look. Dr Nancy Lord, who was the highly articulate Libertarian candidate for V-P in 1992, saw this as the scariest aspect of all in the idea of government-controlled health care.
Suppose you started adult life as a hooker and caught VD, but sobered up and stayed clean and got ready to earn a more conventional living. You apply for a government job. The computer spits out your medical history, and bang! You're back on the street. Legal safeguards? Forget them. Government owns the Courts!
Whether of VD or tooth crowns, our medical history is one of the most private of all the things we like to keep to ourselves. Once the government gets its fangs in to our medical records, we can kiss that privacy farewell.
5. It Will Bloat the Cost . When Lyndon Johnson signed into Law his "War on Poverty" programs, he estimated their cost might rise to $8B by 1990. Today, those same programs cost $90B. However the politicians describe the future costs of Hillarycare, we can safely multiply them by ten, and bill our kids.