Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Albertoli: Immorality of Socialized Medicine

San Francisco artist Roxanne Albertoli has written the following short essay on the moral issues underlying the health care debate. Her original version was written in response to an essay by David Grundy, criticizing the British National Health Service.

I thought it deserved a wider circulation, so she has revised it to make it a stand-alone piece and graciously given me permission to reprint it here:
Immorality of Socialized Medicine

The moral issue of government controlled health care is not discussed, as it is assumed to be self-evident that socialized medicine is desirable (albeit impractical) - i.e., it is ethically good for people to see health care as a right.

This moral perversion of rights is based on the idea that we are all our brother's keeper, and vice versa. That we are all bound economically, one to the next, for medical care. Whatever someone other than ourselves wants medically, we are honor bound to hand over to that person; and that person is honor bound to reciprocate.

No one asks why. Why are we bound economically, one to the next, for medicine, or for any reason? How are we "free" if our income, that which enables us to live, is taken from us by the government to "pay" for someone else's health care, and the same thing happens to that someone else?

Why is it "better" for the government to take my money to pay for Josephine Smith's health care, and take Josephine Smith's money to pay for my health care but it is immoral for me to pay for my own, and for Josephine to pay for her own?

Why am I considered too stupid to judge what's right for me, to pick my own doctor and to contract with him or her for a fair price, but brilliant government clerks know the answers to these conundrums of life?

Why are doctors and hospitals and drug companies considered too venal, too immoral to charge fair prices, but the government is peopled with disinterested philosopher kings who know exactly the right balance between services and prices? And yet the same doctors who are too venal and mercenary to be allowed to set their own prices are still to be trusted to perform open heart surgery or diagnose a life-threatening illness.

Why is this giant shell game called moral?

Because people accept that it is "moral" to live for anther, "moral" to sacrifice for another, "moral" to sacrifice others to themselves - but that it is "immoral" to live for oneself, and "immoral" for each of us to take the responsibility of his or her own life and live for ourselves.

It is a huge responsibility to live for oneself by one's own labor, and solely by one's judgment of reality. But it is the only way to live as a human. To exist for, through and because of others is irrational and ultimately destructive, because our means of survival is our brain. And contrary to the geniuses on Madison Avenue, everyone does succeed alone, because everyone thinks alone. There's no one in there but you and only you can judge what is best for you, despite all the alleged "brains" in the government who claim they know what's best for you. It is your mind, your wealth (if you earned it) and your life - only you, the individual, know what's best for you and where and how you want your money spent that best benefits you. Taking responsibility for oneself and spending ones' own money on oneself is the most rational and therefore the most moral action to take as regards health care.

That is why socialized medicine is immoral. No one can think for another, therefore no one can decide what's best for another. Patients, doctors, medical industry people, everyone, must be free of government coercion in the marketplace of medicine. Our individual lives depend upon it.

Roxanne Albertoli
San Francisco, California
Thank you, Roxanne, for cutting to the heart of the issue.