Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Armstrongs Critique Left And Right

In the August 3, 2009 Grand Junction Free Press, the tireless father-and-son team of Linn and Ari Armstrong critique both the left and the right in the health care debate.

Here's an excerpt of their piece, "In health debate, left and right need to check premises":
...The left suffers worse ideological problems. Mike Littwin, also of the [Denver] Post, argued last week that equality-driven, politically-run health care is a moral issue.

We quite agree it is a moral issue. It is immoral to seize people's resources by force. It is immoral to forcibly override the independent judgment of doctors, patients, insurers, and consumers and to nullify their agreements. We oppose politically-run medicine because it violates morality. Moral health care respects people's rights of liberty, property, and voluntary association.

Unfortunately, the right also veers off track...

One of the speakers at the Denver rally, Preston Gibson of the Jefferson Economic Council, eloquently argued that the "public option" would drive out private insurance.

Unfortunately, Gibson also claimed that "employer-sponsored health insurance has been the foundation of the highest quality health care on earth." Wrong. Employer-paid insurance is the product of federal tax manipulation. It is non-portable. It is expensive because it encourages people to use insurance for routine care rather than unexpected, high-cost emergencies.

American medicine is great despite the IRS-promoted employer-paid system. We should move away from employer-paid insurance to individual policies. We support the expansion of Health Savings Accounts to allow the purchase of insurance with pre-tax dollars.

Jeff Crank, organizer of the Denver rally, likewise made many admirable points. However, he also claimed that the "right kind of health care reform" includes "eliminating the pre-existing conditions exclusion." We take this to mean imposing more political controls on insurance companies.

When insurers are forced to take people with pre-existing conditions, many people wait to buy insurance until they get sick, undermining the very purpose of insurance (and leading to Romney-style mandates). The real answer is to remove all the political controls of insurance that have mostly destroyed the market for long-term policies.

Too often neither the left nor the right gets it. The name of our favorite health policy group summarizes the essential values we must protect: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine..
(Full text of: "In health debate, left and right need to check premises")

Too many people in both major political parties have been too willing to violate individual rights in the name of "reform". Until politicians (and more importantly, voters) adopt a firm and principled approach to rights, this problem will continue to recur.

Fortunately, there are excellent resources available from think tanks such as the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights that provide the much-needed proper philosophical guidance, including the classic essays:
"Man's Rights" and
"The Nature of Government"
I can think of no better foundation for genuine health care reform.