Sunday, January 03, 2010

Health-care debate shows liberalism has lost way

Published in The Tennessean, January 3, 2010

Health-care debate shows liberalism has lost way

by Richard J. Grant


If you could choose the country of your birth, would you choose a free and prosperous republic where your neighbors would respect your right to life, liberty and property, or would you choose a socialistic country where none of these rights is truly respected and life is very different?

If you were to be born with a congenital ailment, say a heart defect, which country would you choose? Would your answer change in any way?

In the free republic, no one would speak of your "right to health care." But in the socialist, workers' paradise, the right to health care would be an article of faith. So which would you choose?

Whatever your condition at birth, your location will affect your life expectancy and quality of life. People like to imagine that proclaiming a "right to health care" will guarantee everyone a longer and better quality of life. But this assumes that the necessary know-how and resources will be available. The choice you make between freedom and socialism will have a huge impact on what is available to you and your family.

There is a reason why so many people risked their lives to escape from the various socialist republics that rose and fell during the 20th century. The socialist promise was a lie. They were promised prosperity, but what they got was mass poverty. They were promised equality, but party members were far "more equal" than others. They were promised brotherhood, but what they got was serfdom. They were promised moral purity, but what they got was a daily struggle for survival against oppressive rules where corruption became an essential tool in making ends meet.

Can we protect ourselves from all this by never using the word "socialism" in America? Actually, it is not the word but the type of policies that makes the poison. Most American politicians hate it when someone refers to their policies as "socialistic." It is unfortunate, however, that over the past few decades that word has become increasingly appropriate in describing our policies. They don't cease to be socialistic just because we call them "liberal."

"Liberalism" is another one of those words that has become an antonym of its former self. Instead of representing a love of freedom, it now stands for wishful thinking as a substitute for facing reality. Modern liberals hate it when someone points out that health insurance exists to deal with life's risks, not its certainties. But pointing out this truth is a step toward understanding how to provide effective solutions to real problems.

When liberals claim that no one else has a plan to reform health care, it is a testament to the narrowness of their own worldview. They seem hopelessly unaware that the problems they deplore in our medical system were of their own making. They who have molested us with their heavy-handed and self-serving regulations now propose to come to our rescue.

Better leaders would understand that unregulated medical insurance, especially with deregulated medical care provisions, would be one of the most reliable and powerful tools that we can bring to the management of our health risks. At present, such innovation is not allowed. Similarly, due to excessive taxation, we are limited in our abilities to help the uninsurable.

In the future, let us vote for leaders who are honest and know how the real world works. Give us leaders who understand that "the best health-care system in the world" will be that which is least regulated and has the smallest government participation.

Only those who choose a land of freedom will find themselves in fellowship with creators, builders, innovators and good stewards. A child born in a free republic will have not only the greatest chance of surviving and enjoying good health, but also the greatest chance to expand the limits of human achievement and, with this, the ability to extend a helping hand to his fellow man.


Richard J. Grant is a professor of finance and economics at Lipscomb University and a scholar at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. His column appears on Sundays. E-mail: rjg@richardjgrant.com

Copyright © Richard J Grant 2010