Universal Healthcare Myths and Truths
  • Actual photo of a Venezuelan supermarket

    Often you will read or hear that, excepting for America, healthcare in all developed countries around the world is recognized as the “basic human right” that it actually is. You will often in the next breath hear that “America is the only civilized country in the world that doesn’t offer universal healthcare to its people.”

    You will frequently hear next that this is a black-eye on the face of the United States.

    As a corollary of this, you’ll sometimes read such things as Why Healthy People Should Subsidize the Sick. In such commentaries you’ll invariably read the reason single-payer healthcare is opposed is that it “forces” people to be humane. The word “forces” will invariably be in scare quotes.

    No caring or compassionate person — which is to say, most humans — want to be thought of as “inhumane,” and that’s how you know that this sort of talk is a tactic: a tactic also known as propaganda.

    The purpose of their ridiculing tone and their scare quotes around “force” is an attempt to bully you into believing that force is perfectly acceptable when it’s for the sake of something “humane,” or something that’s deemed “the greater good.”

    The writers of such propaganda deliberately intend vagueness in their use of terms like “greater good,” “common good,” “humane” and so forth.

    These writers carefully construct their words in this way.

    They do it for a precise reason.

    Don’t be duped.

    Don’t be bullied.

    I will show you here that those who advocate any kind of force, even for ostensibly humane ends, are in actuality perpetuating much greater suffering for all people involved.

    The only way to truly solve the healthcare crisis that plagues the world is through a policy of no force whatsoever.

    First, last, and always, nobody has the right to the life and labor of any other human being — and this includes the life and labor of any and all nurses and doctors.

    It is true that despite the mighty push and the stupefying corruption involved in that push, America does not yet have universal healthcare — and it is a very, very good thing for the sake of the entire world that America does not.

    One of the (many) things you’re not told about universal healthcare is this:

    In every country that has it — even those listed as the best: i.e. Japan, France, and Canada — healthcare is perpetually out of money. They all operate in the red. All of them. They’re in deep debt and this is a fact.

    They operate at a loss — just as Medicare and Medicaid do in America, and for the exact same reasons. They are in debt, and that debt grows deeper and deeper and deeper, endlessly.

    But that’s okay, people will reply, because healthcare should not be for profit. To which I reply this:

    Says who? By what natural law or edict do you derive such a premise?

    By what law of nature — either human nature or nature apart from humans — do you come to such a conclusion?

    The answer you will receive to this question is “None and no law.”

    The reason for this is that things cost money to produce — to make and to manufacture and to do.

    The work and expertise of individual humans is a service provided. It is not something free which others ma lay claim to. Nobody has the right to the expertise and labor of a carpenter, neither to the products this carpenter crafts nor to the material she purchases to craft them. Those materials also cost money, as does the carpenter’s work and expert skill. You pay for them voluntarily. 

    The same is true of the farmer or hunter who through their labor provide food and then offer it for sale. The same is also true for the chef who cooks it and the restaurant owners who provide a place in which to eat it and the servers and bartenders who serve it.

    And so it is also true with healthcare.

    Whether it’s aspirin and antibiotics, or beds or oxygen tanks and tubes, or MRI machines and computers, or an almost endless number of other things besides — it costs money to produce, and it requires specialized knowledge and expertise to provide the service.

    (Money is only a symbol of production, a medium. Money is a facilitator, and as such it drastically simplifies life for a conceptual species.)

    This is to say nothing of the fact that the doctors, nurses, medical techs, paramedics, custodians, administrators, bio-pharmaceutical researchers, and so on, this is their work. It is their livelihood. And so if healthcare isn’t for profit, then all this staff is expected to provide it for free? Or at best for whatever wages the government deems? (Yes, actually: cost controls are a BIG part of all universal healthcare systems. And cost controls always, by mathematical law, create what? Say it with me, please: shortages. Cost controls create shortages.)

    These hard-working people, then, because it’s “bourgeois and vulgar” to regard healthcare and healthcare services as something at which you make money, must therefore get other work so that they might put better food on their tables and support their families and their chosen lifestyles in a higher-quality way, and have money to travel and for leisure and everything else, like the rest of us?

    In other words, the argument goes, in one of the most demanding and specialized industries there is — healthcare — people should by definition not be able to support themselves by their work as a open-market would determine, because for-profit medicine is “bourgeois, vulgar, and inhumane,” and so the people who spend years and years gaining the knowledge and the expertise required to practice their work, must not be allowed to support themselves by means of it, and so they must instead work two jobs (at least).

    I hope you can see how obscenely absurd this is.

    This is precisely why in all countries with universal healthcare — i.e. all developed countries except America — doctor shortages, especially the most accomplished specialists, are a very serious problem.

    (Where, I ask again, is the “right” to brain surgery if no one exists with the expertise required to perform it?)

    In all countries with universal healthcare, staff and medical personnel shortages are a constant issue.

    This is one of the reasons that when somebody like Canadian politician Belinda Stronich — who is a good friend of Hilary and Bill Clinton and who, like them, totally supports universal healthcare — when she’s stricken with cancer, she does not opt to be treated in Canada but instead comes to the United States.

    And then there’s Hugo Chavez.

    It’s also part of the reason that free market principles are being quietly introduced into many systems of universal care — to save them from completely collapsing — though the governments and government administrators of these regimes do not  want you to know this.

    It’s also why MRI machines are abundant and not at all an issue in, for example, veterinarian clinics in places with universal healthcare for humans, whereas in hospitals and other places of care for humans, you must often wait and wait and wait for access to life-saving MRI tests: because universal healthcare creates so many OTHER shortages beyond doctors, nurses, and other staff.

    These endless shortages are direct the result of still more Marxist economic naïveté. They are the direct result of this and nothing else.

    In the real world, thus, so-called universal healthcare, because it by definition operates at a perpetual loss, requires constant measures to prevent it from collapsing economically:

    One of those measures is cost controls.

    In all places with universal healthcare, strict cost-controls are implemented and constantly added and monitored — by a gigantic bureau of planners — which is why in such systems the average amount of time doctors spend with patients is dramatically limited: in Japan, which is often regarded as one of the best universal healthcare examples in the world, the average doctor-patient time is less than five minutes.

    Five minutes.

    This bureaucracy also by definition mushrooms into endless permutations and red-tape, and among the many ramifications of this — please listen — America, which because of the profit-motive leads the world overall in medical technologies, innovations, and medicines, subsidizes the entire world because of the policy of universal healthcare.

    Yes, you read that right. It is true.

    In other words, you’ll often hear, for example, how inexpensive the same drugs and medications are in places with universal healthcare compared with America. And this is also true: medications and drugs often are dramatically less expensive in such places..

    But you won’t ever — and I mean ever — hear why: i.e. that it is precisely because America must pick up the remaining tab for the rest of the world that our costs are more expensive.

    That is also a fact.

    This is just one of the many, many ramifications of cost controls, which must be implemented in countries with universal healthcare.

    Nor will you hear how the bureaucratic monstrosity known as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes it mind-bogglingly complex for new medications to be created and approved — sometimes taking decades — and this as well drives up the cost of medicine and medical care: it drives it up astronomically.

    It’s also another textbook example of how socialism loathes laissez-faire even while it relies upon it entirely in order to exist.

    [Please note: cronyism — i.e. crony capitalism — such as what with see with drug companies obtaining favors and special treatment, like state-coerced blocking of competitors and laissez-faire competition, is not laissez-faire but socialism. Specifically, it is the brand of socialism known as corporatism or syndicalism.)

    And it’s also, of course, another textbook example of how government controls and regulations create the problems to begin with, and then the “laissez-faire free-market” (which doesn’t actually exist) is then the one blamed for these problems so that deeper controls can be demanded and implemented. All the while, it is only actual laissez-faire principles that can permanently fix the problem.

    Another thing you’ll see in all countries with universal healthcare is healthcare rationing. This includes but is not limited to death-panels: government bureaus deciding who receives care and who doesn’t, who lives and who dies.

    Rationing is part and parcel of universal healthcare because it’s necessary in preventing total collapse of any and all universal healthcare systems.

    I am well-aware, of course, that proponents do not like to call it by its proper name — rationing — and so they use any number of different terms (i.e. “limited funds,” “over-use of medical care”), but no serious person of whom I know, even those in militantly favor, deny that under conditions of universal care, bureaus ultimately determine who gets what care — including, of course, who lives and dies, as Obama’s medical advisor famously made no secret of.

    As the Alfie Evans case recently demonstrated to the world so starkly and horrifyingly.

    I ask you in all sincerity to, at least for a moment, think of this issue in the following way:

    Maybe you don’t in theory like “for-profit healthcare,” but under such a system, can you deny that at the very least your health is not determined by governments or governmental bureaus? You may have other arguments and objections, but you cannot, I will argue, seriously deny that.

    Remember this also and never forget it — it is of utmost importance: American medicine is already over half socialized and has been for over half a century, and this one fact alone — the socialization of American medicine — has created the staggering inflations and any number of other insoluble issues which we in America endure today.

    I ask you to please consider the following, as well. It is also of inexpressible significance:

    Imagine if food and shelter — both which are far more urgent and regular human needs than medicine — imagine if these vital human needs were deemed “too important” to be left to “open-market and unbridled laissez-faire,” and therefore government must provide universal food coverage, food care for all, and shelter for all. This is not purely hypothetical, by the way. It’s exactly the philosophy behind the American Indian Reservations and virtually all other strains of socialist ideology, and I invite you to observe exactly how they’ve all played out in any number of different countries and Reservations — ranging from North Korea and Cuba, to the USSR and Pol Pot’s Cambodia to of course Communist China to all but two of America’s Indian Reservations, which have the highest poverty rates, diabetes rates, cardiac-event rates, illiteracy rates, suicide rates, rape rates and other such ignominious things in the country.

    Under such systems as these, governmental agents assume control of food production and food distribution and housing, and do you know what happens as a direct and demonstrable result?

    Many, many, many things — none of which are good:

    Everything from lack of food diversity to government telling you what you may and may not grow to eat, or cultivate or milk or raise, to starving people waiting hours in breadlines for stale bread and then, after waiting all day in the bitter cold, being told that the bread rationing for the day is done, and so you must leave empty-handed and still starving.

    Houses old, cold, and crumbling.

    Which is why Nikita Kruschev and Boris Yeltsin simply did not believe their eyes when for the first time they saw an American supermarket: the sheer abundance and diversity that laissez-faire creates, with no shortages even imagined — this was beyond anything their socialized systems (and brains) could conceive. (To his great credit, Boris Yeltsin completely changed his way of thinking.)

    The exact same principle applies to medicine and healthcare.

    I promise you what I’m telling you is accurate.

    Most insidious of all: once such systems are enacted, no matter how dismal, abysmal, and inefficient they actually are, in a very short time, people cannot imagine life without government and government agents providing these things. In fact, this is the very situation we find ourselves in today with “universal healthcare.” This one thing above all others is the most challenging thing to overcome in demonstrating to people why universal healthcare does not and cannot work — ever: the notion has already become so entrenched that people simply cannot conceive government not providing at least some measure of it.

    This same thing would happen in less than five years if people got used to food-care for all and shelter-care for all.

    Entrenchment is in this very way a form of indoctrination.

    I urge you to begin thinking of healthcare in a slightly different fashion. Think of it, even if it’s just for a moment, like this:

    Think of it as food in America.

    Think of it as shelter in America.

    Think of it as dentistry already is in America.

    Think of it as veterinary medicine already is, and Lasik and other cosmetic procedures.

    Think of it like your eye-glass clinic or optometry shop.

    In thinking of it this way, I ask you to observe the sheer number and variety and quality of vet clinics and dentists and optometrists and grocery stores and restaurants and missions and foodbanks and places-for-rent you have to choose from right now in America — precisely because those industries have been left comparatively free (though it is also significant to note that no industry has been left untouched by the horrid hand of government, and to the precise extent that it’s been infiltrated and meddled with, it is inflated and warped out of recognizable proportion, and would be even less expensive and with better care and more options had it all been left entirely alone).

    Observe, for instance, how many dental practitioners or orthodontists or optometrists you have to choose from — their payment plans, the actual insurance — as against pre-paid healthcare — you may (or may not: it’s up to each individual) purchase.

    Observe the generosity and charity of providers and clinics.

    (Though I’m not a fan of Ron Paul or his equally religious son Rand Paul, they are both MD’s — and by all accounts they are good MD’s — and they make the following point articulately and eloquently, no matter the smears from both rightwingers and left: under conditions of freedom, in cases of emergency, medical practitioners don’t heartlessly let people die, as the government-lovers never tire of trying to persuade you. Also, before government got so involved in healthcare, many, many, many private charities — both religious and non-religious — as well as actual insurance, existed for emergency and catastrophic care, which works astronomically better than political care.)

    Observe how today in America people are not bleeding from the mouths in the streets for lack of dental care, with nowhere to go. Such a thing is not a crisis — not remotely. It’s strikes you and me as absurd to even think of. Dentists and dental offices are everywhere, and practitioners are not heartless humans.

    Nor are animals in America dying everywhere in the streets for want of veterinary care. Vet clinics (24 hour included) are everywhere — with excellent, affordable payment options and plans. Private organizations and charities are also everywhere for pets.

    Observe how many clinics there are of all kinds, walk-in and otherwise: observe how they’ve sprung up under conditions of freedom and the corollary freedom to make money providing these services.

    You must not allow yourself to be intimidated, bullied, or brainwashed into believing that you’re “inhumane” if you don’t believe in the vague and totally untenable notion of universal care. It doesn’t exist.

    It cannot.

    It is a mathematical impossibility.

    It is a figment.

    In places of purported universal healthcare, humans will ultimately, in the end, wait in line to die.

    Allowing full freedom, I absolutely assure you, will bring about far, far, far more care, better care, more options for care, and vastly more compassion than all people being forced into providing medical care for everyone, and this is not just speculation.

    The system I demand will also instantly abolish all the impossible-to-negotiate red-tape and bureaucracy — including (very significantly) the crony insurance system, as well as everyone’s concern with what her or his neighbors are eating and drinking and smoking since we’re all paying for each other.

    If you truly want to solve the healthcare crisis — and I mean truly — you must change your thinking about what creates the problems in the first place, and also what the proper solution is.

    What creates and maintains the best care?

    Government bureaus?

    Or conditions of freedom?

    To further help answer that, I urge you again to think for a moment about dental care, orthodontics, veterinary clinics, Lasik, optometry.

    If you can get past all the dogma and the propaganda behind the dogma that you’ve been hammered with your entire life, you’ll see that the evidence is overwhelming.

    At the very minimum, I urge you not to fall for the ridiculing tactics that you’re “inhumane” if you don’t believe in being forced to provide healthcare for everyone else. Such policies, even if they sound good and humane in theory, have dire practical consequences in how they play out: from shortages, to cost controls, to death panels and other rationing measures, to neverending inflation.

    I leave you with this:

    People often tell me that my notions of laissez-faire may have worked at one time, and yet now the world is “far too complex,” as one person recently put it, “for such a system of hands-off.”

    The paradox of such fatuous statements and the actual truth of the matter is that just the opposite is the case:

    The more complex a society becomes, the less equipped and able centralized-planning committees are to manage that complexity.

    One of the best illustrations of this — best because it’s demonstrated in such a way that virtually anyone, no matter their political leaning or their level of economic understanding, can see the inherent logic of it — is in how pencils are made.

    Another example is in observing how a sandwich is made:

    Andy George tried to experience the production of a sandwich from scratch. He made a sandwich by using as little trade and processed products as possible. He had to grow vegetables, produce cheese, make bread, all himself. Of course, he ‘cheated’ a little by using kitchen tools and other ‘capital goods’ which would have been unavailable in a total autarkic economy. But even with this, he spent $1,500 and six months of his life to obtain one sandwich.

    Today, it costs a few dollars and mere minutes to buy a sandwich in a supermarket. Free trade is precisely what allows us to obtain an ever more optimal division of labor when it is enabled on a large scale. This division of labor allows us to save time while reducing poverty.

    That, mind you, is one sandwich, and he didn’t, of course, manufacture any of the machines or equipment he needed to make all the ingredients — nor does it even touch upon all the transportation required.

    That, in brief, illustrates the impossibility of trying to manage socio-economic complexity. It cannot be done.

    Concerning complexity also and the impossibility of centralized-planning bureaus able to manage this complexity, there’s also the very closely related and insurmountable calculation problem.

    Even if you hate economics, a sentiment with which I completely sympathize, I nonetheless believe it is vital that all people — left, right, or middle — grasp this very basic issue, which is not really hard to grasp: economic calculation.

    It is bedrock. It is a crux. And it is in many ways all that really needs to be said.

    I repeat:

    The more complex any given society, the more impossible it is for any planning committees or bureaus, no matter how brilliant its members, no matter how vast their numbers, to manage for any length of time.

    Whereas upon the other hand laissez-faire, through its legal recognition of person and full property rights (including the right to trade products and services and to earn money), organizes all this complexity voluntarily, consensually, seamlessly, elegantly, peacefully, and in a way beneficial to all.

    And this is why so-called universal healthcare creates a healthcare system that is in actuality not universal at all — not any more than it is compassionate or humane.

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

3 Responses and Counting...

  • Ophelia 09.24.2018

    Amen, brother!

  • “Like a green girl, Ophelia, unsifted in such perilous circumstances.”

    Thank you for dropping by!

  • Touchè

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