Socialized Medicine and Death

Rick Rozoff recently sent me a message that helps us understand a basic feature of socialized medicine. It is closely associated with death. Socialists complain that the free market makes medical care “too expensive” for the poor and middle class. Because of this, they propose to provide “free” medical care for everybody. Of course, it isn’t free. It’s either paid for by taxes or inflation, which is itself a cruel tax.

But once the “free” care is offered, there is a problem. At a zero, or very low, price, there will be much more medical services that people demand than can be provided. Suppose, for example, that you are having back pains. Should you get an MRI taken of your back? If you had to pay for the test yourself, you would hesitate. But if it is available “free,” why not take it? Many more people will want MRIs than the available machines make possible. As everybody knows, this means long wait times. JOHNSTONE April 24: Bi... Foley, Timothy P Best Price: $31.74 Buy New $18.00 (as of 09:17 UTC - Details)

There’s another way the socialists can solve the problem of shortages. This by killing people. If there are fewer people around, demand will go down.

Do you think that this is too bizarre to put into practice, even for socialists? If you think so, you are giving the socialists too much credit. That’s exactly what they are doing in Canada. The Canadian government makes euthanasia available to people for free. If you’ve got a problem, why not “solve” it by ending tour own life? A crazy Canadian “doctor” enjoys killing people. She recently snuck into an Orthodox Jewish nursing home and killed an 83 year old resident, even though Jewish law prohibits euthanasia. She was not prosecuted for this gross violation of property rights or subject to any sanctions. She remains free to go on her with her murderous ways.

The great economist Ludwig von Mises identified the basic problem with socialized medicine in his book Socialism, first published in 1922. Mises pointed out the problem of excess demand that “free” treatment will suffer from He said: “The destructionist aspect of accident and health insurance lies above all in the fact that such institutions promote accidents and illness, hinder recovery, and very often create, or at any rate intensify and lengthen, the functional disorders which follow illness or accident. . . lnsurance against diseases breeds disease.” (Socialism, pp.476-477)

Now let’s look at what happened in Canada. Rick Rozoff wrote to me about the egregious Canadian “doctor” Ellen Wiebe. She enjoys killing people! She thinks she is doing a good thing. The Canadian government encourages her and others like her to go on with their killing ways. She also likes killing babies. She kills people by abortions and euthanasia. This is socialized medicine in action.

Here is what she says: “’I love my job,’ she told interviewer Liz Carr. ‘I’ve always loved being a doctor and I delivered over 1,000 babies and I took care of families, but this is the very best work I’ve ever done in the last seven years. And people ask me why, and I think well, doctors like grateful patients, and nobody is more grateful than my patients now and their families.’ Her euthanasia patients, it must be noted, are dead.”

Wiebe actually enjoys killing her patients. She flew a suicidal man to Vancouver and killed him there. She said it was the most rewarding work she has ever done.

What if the patient changes his mind and doesn’t want to be killed? Wiebe has the answer to that too. He should be sedated and then killed. Thinking about this makes her laugh: “And then there is Wiebe’s response in a MAiD [Medical Assistance in Dying] seminar, answering the question of what doctors should do with a patient who appears to be resisting euthanasia. She suggested, with chuckles, that the patient be sedated.”

As mentioned above, she killed an 83-old Jewish resident in an Orthodox Jewish nursing home.

This “doctor” is obviously crazy, but the Canadian medical authorities refused to sanction her: “In 2017, Dr. Ellen Wiebe sneaked into a Jewish nursing home that does not permit euthanasia to give a lethal injection to an 83-year-old man. The event understandably terrified Holocaust survivors in residence at the home, and the appalled staff brought a complaint against Wiebe to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. The complaint against her was dismissed on the basis that MAiD is legal in Canada, and that thus Wiebe had not broken the law.”

In a libertarian society, we wouldn’t have this problem. “Dr.” Wiebe blatantly violated the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). Wiebe was a trespasser and violated the property rights of the owners of the nursing home, who have the right to set regulations on the use of their property. As the great Murray Rothbard says, all rights are property rights.  “Much is heard these days of the distinction between human rights and property rights, and many who claim to champion the one turn with scorn upon any defender of the other. They fail to see that property rights, far from being in conflict, are in fact the most basic of all human rights. . . .. The rights of the individual are still eternal and absolute; but they are property rights. The fellow who maliciously cries “fire” in a crowded theater is a criminal, not because his so-called right of free speech must be pragmatically restricted on behalf of the ‘public good;’ he is a criminal because he has clearly and obviously violated the prop­erty right of another person.”

You might raise an objection to what I’ve said so far. Don’t libertarians believe that people have the right to end their own life? Even if we think they shouldn’t do so. Isn’t this up to them? Yes. But this is missing the point. You don’t have the right to kill yourself on someone else’s property, if he doesn’t want you to do so. The great libertarian psychiatrist Thomas Szasz once said that if a suicidal patient came to see him, he would try to find out what was causing the patient to be despondent and then do his best to alleviate his despair. If the patient persisted, though, and still wanted to end his life, Szasz would tell him, “Don’t do it in my office!”

Let’s get back to the morality of euthanasia. A blogger who posted about Wiebe raised an interesting philosophical question. If you think the euthanasia option is a “good thing,” shouldn’t you be happy about it? The fact that most people who support euthanasia are uncomfortable with it strongly suggests that something is morally wrong with it: “It is interesting that so many people were so uncomfortable by the glee Wiebe expressed about her work. Even many who support euthanasia felt that she should be more solemn and thoughtful about it, somehow. But why? If euthanasia—killing—is healthcare, why should she not cheerily dispatch her patients? Perhaps the discomfort in her cheery demeanor—the fact that she finds ending lives rewarding on both ends of life’s spectrum—is because we know, deep down, that there is something profoundly wrong about the normalization of medicalized killing. That discomfort just might be the conscience speaking. We should listen closely.”

This objection is similar to one that the philosopher Bernard Williams raised against the utilitarian view that we should always do what has the best consequences. Williams imagined that an explorer stumbles across a tribe of Indians about to execute ten protestors. The person in charge of the executions tells the explorer that if he shoots one of the prisoners, the others will be freed. If he doesn’t, all of the prisoners will be killed.

Williams’s point isn’t that the explorer should refuse. He thinks that killing one prisoner might be the best thing to do. But the explorer would think it’s a tough choice. He would feel bad about killing the person. If utilitarianism were correct, though, he should be happy—he is saving nine lives, and then person he kills would have been killed anyway. Isn’t this the best possible outcome, given the grisly circumstances of the example? Maybe so, but our unease shows that utilitarianism doesn’t agree with our ordinary common sense judgments. These deserve our attention.

We shouldn’t think that “death panels” are just a problem for Canadian medicine. They are a problem for American medicine as well, controlled as it is by the government through Medicare. As the great Gary North noted in 2013, the monstrous Keynesian economist Paul Krugman said that death panels would be needed to cut medical costs: “When you say ‘medical rationing,’ think ‘death panels.’

In a recent speech at a synagogue, in a question and answer session, he [Paul Krugman] made it clear that the present welfare state cannot long be financed by today’s taxes. Taxes must rise — maybe in 2025. Costs must be cut. Certain medical procedures must be curtailed. There must be death panels.”

Let’s do everything we can to end socialized medicine and its cult of death.