Friday, September 18, 2009

Doctor For Single-Payer - Why?

This letter-to-the-editor appeared in the New Jersey Star-Ledger Reader Forum of 9/18/09.

Single pay is the way

I am deeply disgusted by the health-care debate. Single-payer health care is the only good solution. I am treating more and more patients for free, as they lost their jobs and health insurance. But this is not a long-term solution. The U.S. is destroying itself by not passing single payer -- and it well deserves it.

Judith Simon, M.D., Millburn

Here is my commentary, which is essentially repeated from my post of 4/17/09:

Posted by Zemack on 09/18/09 at 4:22PM

As a lay person, I have wondered about doctors who support some form of socialized medicine, such as the single payer system advocated by Dr. Judith Simon of Millburn. What would make a doctor want to sacrifice control of his/her career, judgement, and profession to the dictates of government bureaucrats wielding arbitrary powers? And make no mistake. We are talking here about a healthcare dictatorship. There is no getting around the fact that government is force, and nothing else. And when the government pays, the government sets the terms.

I suppose doctors that support socialized medicine have varied reasons for doing so...some innocent, some not. Here are a few of my suppositions.

Perhaps some doctors do not understand the free market alternative to our current system, and see total government control as an undesirable but necessary evil.

Perhaps some may want to take the intellectually lazy career path and avoid the rigors of the free market. They would rather come to work every day, picking canned, off-the-bureaucratic-shelf solutions to their patients' healthcare problems in exchange for some guaranteed unit price from a central governmental authority. (This is what philosopher Leonard Peikoff identified as the "new bureaucratic doctors" practicing "assembly-line medicine". See his essay "Medicine, The Death of a Profession" in the book, The Voice of Reason, page 299).

Some may not like having to deal with patients who want to exercise their right to act upon their own judgement by demanding, say, some test or prescription drug that the doctor may not think is warranted. They would rather deny him that right by imposing the "rational" dictates of some unknown central planner.

Much of the medical profession, I suppose, sees a government-run health care dictatorship as inevitable, and believes that the "practical" course is to make a deal with the devil at the expense of their professional integrity.

Some may be motivated by a desire to help those who cannot afford adequate healthcare, but would rather avoid the responsibility of deciding when, how, and in what capacity to extend charitable care to their indigent forcing others to foot the bill for their compassion through taxes.

There are also undoubtedly many doctors who are egalitarian ideologues who don't like the fact that some people can afford to pay their own way and some cannot, and thus seek to impose "social justice" at the expense of actual justice.

Whatever their reasons, doctors who support state-run medicine should all recognize that by betraying their own freedom of judgement, careers, professional integrity, and rights, they are also selling out the rest of America...especially America's best blood. Those of us who do not want to trade our independence and freedom for a free appendectomy or cholesterol pill will also be victims.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's 2009 School Speech - and Ayn Rand

Barack Obama's Education Speech: The Not-At-All Socialist Indoctrination, by Michael Scherer, Time

"At this point, most of the noise about Barack Obama wanting to indoctrinate school children in a back-to-school speech has mostly faded from view. Newt Gingrich has repudiated it. Historians (and White House aides) have pointed out that past Republican presidents--George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan--delivered the same sorts of messages. Some of those Republican leaders who made a stink over the President's plan--like Florida GOP chair Jim Greer--are getting a Labor Day grilling from their local press. [UPDATE: Greer now says, "It's a good speech."]

"Rather than any lefty, neo-socialist, communitarian brainwashing, President Obama's speech to your kids reads like a paean to individual striving and free market capitalism, the sort of thing that Ayn Rand and Barry Goldwater might have signed onto. At root, Obama's message is one of individual responsibility, a disquisition on the freedom of American youth to fail or succeed on their own tenacity and merits."

It looks like some conservatives have been snookered by this philosophically astute president. For my complete take on Obama's speech, click here

My Commentary:

President Obama gives some good practical advice. The problem is not in the “what”, but in the “what for?” Buried in the platitudes is the real message:

“And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

“You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

“We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that – if you quit on school – you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.”

There isn't a dictator that ever walked the face of the earth that wouldn't laud those words. The collectivist overtones are unmistakable. The president's message is fundamentally anti-American, running completely contrary to the individualist premise that this country was founded upon, and that unleashed the reason-driven, entrepreneurial energy of free people pursuing their own goals for the sake of their own happiness and their own lives as an end in themselves ... the energy that resulted in the astounding general rise in the standard and quality of living.

The president's purpose is not to advance his political agenda, per se. It is to establish the necessary prerequisite ideas for his (and any future socialist's) agenda, the servile population. Any leader attempting to inculcate in the young the sense of duty and service is a leader who wants and intends to rule their lives. The danger in Obama's message is clear to anyone who understands the power of ideas. Individualism leads to the United States of America. Collectivism leads to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia or any number of stagnant, poverty-ridden tribal societies – or to a socialist America.

As for who on the Right would applaud this speech, I don't know about Goldwater. Many conservatives uphold the altruist/service-to-the-country doctrine. But Ayn Rand championed the supreme value and rights of the individual to the pursuit of his own happiness, and a government as protector of those rights, not government as master. She would not have approved of Obama's message.

Other's comments:

As we all know, President Reagan also gave a speech to students in 1988. The full text can be found on this link:

At one point, referring to a painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he mentions how there are some figures whose faces have not been filled in, they are only outlines. He goes on to say: "America is not yet complete, and it's up to each one of us to help complete it. And each one of you can place yourself in that painting. You can become one of the those immortal figures by helping to build and renew America."

Isn't this the same overall idea of helping our country as used by Obama in his speech? Mike, you need to use the same rod to measure both Obama's and Reagan's words in order to be fair. If you do, then both Reagan and Obama are anti-American and socialists by your standards. As I see it, their words reflect men concerned with encouraging children to grow as useful citizens, instead of being burdens to society. You dig into Obama's words, unearthing what is not there, to fit your pre-determined agenda.

In 1991, President George HW Bush addressed students at Alice Deal Jr High School. Towards the end he said: "Let me know how you're doing. Write me a letter — and I'm serious about this one — write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals. I think you know the address." Obama tried the same thing this time, ahead of time, and was accused of being manipulative and engaging in government intrusion. (The link below will take you to the full text of President George HW Bush's address.)

Both speeches, Reagan's and Bush's brought controversy, especially President Bush's. The difference is that Bush's controversy, although hysterical at times, happened AFTER the speech. The hysteria over Obama's speech was an orchestrated, planned opposition for the sake of it.

I think that with Obama, a novel is being written where the title was written first, i.e., "Obama: a Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Not to Be Trusted Good-For-Nothing Dictator That Has Ruined Our Nation". The text is being written to fit the title with every word, every gesture, every move Obama makes or does not make. Believe me, the right wing will make sure the text fits that title, even if they have to make up the events, or stretch the truth until it is no longer recognizable. But, if it fits, it will go in. Sad, sad, sad.

My commentary:



“You dig into Obama's words, unearthing what is not there, to fit your pre-determined agenda.”

I don't know what you think my “agenda” is, but let me say this. I give him more respect than you do. I take him at his word. President Obama and I have something important in common – philosophical astuteness. We are, however, on the opposite ends of the basic philosophical battleground – collectivism vs, individualism. Let me put it another way.

He speaks of “the country” and “the economy” as though they are mystical entities separate and distinct from the individual human beings that make it up. This is classic. They are to be the purpose and the focus to which the president urges the young “to set your own goals for your education”. But what are the “country” or the “economy” except the sum of the individual interests and efforts of its individual members? A pro-American message would be that the children's' own individual good, and only their own individual good, is the purpose of their education. When you focus on your own life as the purpose and end of your own actions – to make your own life the best and most fulfilling it can be by your own efforts for your own sake – it is the betterment of the country and the economy that you accomplish. That is because you are the country. You are the economy, just as is every other individual that comprises it.

Yet, in true collectivist form, the President attempts to inculcate in the young the sense of duty and service and a sense of smallness next to a cause larger than oneself – in this case, the “country” and the “economy”. (In fairness, so did McCain, whom I didn't vote for either.) Just for the record, I do not say he is a Nazi or a Communist. He is, however, a socialist. His operation tactic is to bring socialism through the back door of fascism. This is a decades long trend, which follows the bipartisan path from Wilson to FDR to Kennedy to Nixon to GW Bush. America is being pushed toward its own brand of national socialism, a “soft” tyranny without the brutality of the German Nazis.

Obama is not unique. Collectivism permeates both major parties to varying degrees. The collectivist mindset has been seeping into American culture for the past century or so, gradually supplanting the revolutionary individualist enlightenment premise of the Founding. It seeps into your own comments, with phrases like “overall idea of helping our country” and “encouraging children to grow as useful citizens” (“useful”, to whom?). It even creeps into Reagan's rhetoric. This is a very dangerous development, in my view. Ideas move history. Pretending that Obama didn't say what he said, or that he doesn't know what he is saying, does not change the facts of reality. He delivered a collectivist message. Collectivism is the philosophical root of all variants of socialism.

“The text”, you say, “is being written to fit the title with every word, every gesture, every move Obama makes or does not make.” Yes, the text is being written - by Obama himself. Collectivism threads through all of his rhetoric … and his policies. The president knows precisely what he is saying, and into what he wants to “re-make” the country. So do I.

The Primitive Soul of a Socialist

The following letter appeared in the Reader's Forum of 9/8/09 NJ Star-Ledger.

Primitive health care

As a species, we seem to believe we are highly evolved. But when I take a closer look, it becomes quite obvious we are really still very primitive because we labor under layers of illusions that allow us to severely mistreat each other.

A dollar bill is a piece of paper, nothing more and nothing less. We allow ourselves to believe a piece of paper with "one hundred" printed on it is more valuable than a piece of paper with "one."

We are smart enough to realize that money is only paper, yet we are willing to allow millions of our fellow humans to live without access to a primary care doctor simply because they lack the proper number of pieces of paper.

Pain and disease is true reality, the need to have constant access to a caring doctor is true reality. Holding back health care from people because they don't have enough paper is an illusion that only a primitive group would allow. We must strive to evolve to the point that everyone has access to care regardless of how much paper they possess.

Perry Leandro, Cranbury

My Commentary:

Posted by Zemack on 09/08/09 at 4:50PM

Perry Leandro of Cranbury writes:

"A dollar bill is a piece of paper, nothing more and nothing less."

Then why do you receive those pieces of paper in exchange for the real products and services your productive work provides for others? And why can you then exchange those pieces of paper for real products and services you need and want, but that are produced by still others?

A civilized man sees money as a noble medium that stands for something - wealth that has been produced by human beings and made available to other human beings through the voluntary mutually advantageous transaction called trade. By making it possible to work for one person and purchase the work of another, the discovery of money led to the division-of-labor market economy that in turn made possible the huge advance from the primitive witch doctor to modern medicine.

A savage sees only that "A dollar bill is a piece of paper, nothing more and nothing less."

Perry Leandro says:

"Holding back health care from people because they don't have enough paper is an illusion that only a primitive group would allow."

There is nothing illusory about earning your own keep. As every civilized man knows, if you can't afford the price of another man's labor, you basically have only three moral choices - increase your earnings so you can afford it, rely on voluntary private charity, or do without. No one else is obligated to provide you with the necessities of life. As every civilized man knows, all wealth is produced and belongs to the individual human beings that earned it, not the primitive tribe. As every civilized man knows, you cannot consume that which you have not produced, nor consume more than you have produced (earned). And above all, you cannot acquire what others have produced except by voluntary, uncoerced means.

A savage sees providing for his own needs by his own efforts ... earning "enough paper" ... as an "illusion". A savage sees human evolution as returning to the brute force rule of the jungle or the cave dweller, where need is a license to steal rather than a spur to productive work - where "everyone has access to care regardless of how much paper they possess."

A savage sees an ant colony, not a human civilization that has discovered the capitalist market economy governed by the justice of voluntary production and trade, the principle of individual rights, and the nobility and vital necessity of money (which should be gold or gold-backed). A savage sees a primitive tribe that can confiscate and redistribute the property of its members at will, rather than a benevolent, non-coercive association of free individuals whose property is protected by a government of laws and not of looters.

The current healthcare debate reveals that we still have a lot of mental savages among us who long for the primitive world of witch doctors and the rule of the jungle. I'm sure that Perry Leandro is not one of them, just an uninformed soul who needs to grasp the primordial implications of what he is saying.

*For a comprehensive explanation on the moral and practical importance of money, read Francisco's "Money Speech" from Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged.