The whole topic of health care reform has been a long exercise in resolving many different modes of though and completely diverging political philosophies. And because I don't necessarily see any reasonable compromise on the issue, I'm going to sojourn into my head to explain how I arrived at many of the positions I have espoused in the debate. And while I am going to talk about health care a lot, it's only in trying to illustrate how I got where I got.
The Principles and Philosophies
If I were forced to choose a political side (as in liberal or conservative), I'd be considered, on the whole, conservative. However, as I am in disagreement with many of the social issues listed as conservative, I have to find a modifier. The closest philosophy would be libertarian.
So if you had to label me, it would be as a libertarian conservative. This is because I generally align with the conservatives on most issues. Where I disagree is on libertarian principles requiring government non-involvement, even on social issues I agree on.
A perfect example here is the issue of abortion. On a moral level, I'll seek any legal way to reduce or stop the murderous practice. However, I have a conflict in the fact that an absolute anti-abortion stance requires denying a woman control over her body. This means I have to find a legal middle ground which tries to determine when the rights of the unborn child supersede the rights of the mother. There is no clear answer, and this means I'll continue to be conflicted.
So to crystallize my principles of government, here's the bullet points.
- Individual freedom and liberty (life, liberty, property) are paramount.
- Government, and all its fruits (taxes, laws) are at best a necessary evil.
- The government's role is to secure individual freedom.
- There are moral obligations that the law cannot and should not address.
- Redistribution by the government is codified theft.
- Tofu is not food (kidding (not really, but the list needed something funny)).
When I approached the healthcare debate, my tendency was to reject anything government that was not necessary and repeat "free market" until I fall over (GOP style?). This is because of the principle stating that, "Government, and all its fruits (taxes, laws) are at best a necessary evil." And the reforms being considered are most certainly the creation of more of something I consider an evil.
In looking at the aspects of the plan currently being considered, it creates more dependence on government through the government option (and when you are financially tied to someone or something, you lose freedom), creates a redistribution of wealth (taxing some to fund the health care of others), creates conditions where the government will be both competition and regulation for the private sector (which involves the ability and tendency to remove freedom). On those items alone, the bill is one I cannot support.
However, as with every complex issue, there are conflicts and questions and challenges to my logic.
First up is the argument that we have a "right" to health care. Correctly stated, we have the right to pursue health care (life). However, for health care to be given, someone must give it. This involves their property/liberty. To make this a right, one would have to compel someone to do so. And no one can claim a right that requires another to give up his right (murder and theft being clear examples of such).
A counter argument, is that without access, someone loses their right to life. The only issue is that the person is not denied access. Being unable to afford something does not equate to an absolute inability to access it, rather it's a matter of trade. Practicality does not apply when arguing a principle.
Another counter is that we should be able to provide health care for everyone. I agree. However, "There are moral obligations that the law cannot and should not address." Because we should do something does not mean we must codify it as a legal obligation. The reason there must be a clear line is because when you start applying your own morality to any decision, then you force it on others. And whether it's the creation of government programs to create "equality" or banning something that's "immoral" or not "family friendly" because it's the "right" thing to do, it amounts to legislating morality.
The Practical Application and Conclusion
Now most of the things in the last section are pure principle, distinctly libertarian, even somewhat Malthusian. I admit this, because one has to be clear on principles before bending those into a reasonable compromise.
The points of the particular issue that my principles cannot reconcile include:
- Any option that involves government becoming directly responsible (non-regulatory).
- Restrictions on individuals to choose their health care, insurance, etc.
- Confiscation of additional taxes to fund government-sponsored health care.
- Elimination of the private sector (the government-run (single-payer) option).
In seeking solutions to these problems, we must address cost, ease of access, regulations that limit options, the rights of individuals to offer their service without unreasonable threat (tort reform), as well as supply chain issues. And the good solutions that will come will probably involve some government intervention. How much additional entanglement depends on the willingness of all parties in this discussion to look at the individual issues and address them without going to the default positions of either screaming "free market" (like lemmings or Borg) or handing the government horndog (just not Bill Clinton) the keys to the whorehouse.
The point of discussing the prior was to lay out the process that brought me to my decision. If I veered into a little too much of the specifics, it's because it is easier to state an opinion than to explain why we have the opinion. I hope that this glance into my thought process clarifies why I am vehement on many aspects of the current debate.