Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sagall: A Health Care Parable

In this short editorial, Jason Sagall of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine cuts to the heart of the health care debate.

Here's the opening of "A Health Care Parable":
Your wife is stricken with a terrible medical condition. Her insurance benefits just ran out. You need money for her treatment.

You go to your next-door neighbor and tell him about your wife's misfortune. You demand $5,000.

Your neighbor is stupefied. Still, he expresses sympathy for your situation. He refers you to a registered charity and offers to connect you with someone who could help start a campaign to raise donations for your wife. He gives you a check for $100.

Your frustration mounts. Your emotional state is the equivalent of that which one feels from the recognition of a moral injustice, as if nature has the ability to inflict illness upon your wife by a conscious, concerted intent to rob her of her life.

Although your reason tells you no one is to blame, you let your mind obsess on the fact that your neighbor earns a lot more money than you or your wife. You rationalize that he really ought to give you more than $100, in the name of fairness, equality, social justice.

Indeed, you have gleaned through cultural sensibilities that, by right, you have some claim on the time, money, goods or services of others. Moreover, you hold that those who have should give to those who have not, as a matter of moral duty. You feel justified -- even righteous -- in compelling others to act in accordance with moral truth as you see it.

So you point a gun at your neighbor and demand more money. While you are uneasy about this, you repeat to yourself that you have the moral high ground; that, in the grand scheme of things, you are doing the right thing -- and so, too, will your neighbor, if he acquiesces.

Your neighbor begs you to understand that you have no right to initiate force against him. You grant this, for now, and put the gun away. But you have another plan.

You organize a local town hall meeting and invite your Congressman...
(Read the full text of "A Health Care Parable".)