Only the Gloomy Want Socialism in Medicine

An irate fan of socialism and socialized medicine/ObamaCare writes in: “You know what, I think it is less profitable for the free market to find a cure. I think keeping the patient sick, but alive, and dependent on the drugs is more profitable. Like we have with AIDS and the antivirals. They want chronic disease, that is not cured but somehow maintained.”

Dr. Hurd replies:

You might as well be saying:

“It’s more profitable for the free market to deliver packages slowly. The post office — now there’s a government monopoly that works. UPS and FedEx make a profit, and they make sure that packages arrive late and broken. Government management or control works better.”

Or you might as well be saying:

“The free market has no incentive to make good computers. And the more computers they make, the more they charge. Look at how fewer and fewer people are getting worse and worse computers and smart phones all the time. Steve Jobs? Who cares about him? A government agency could deliver ten times the results he did, operating in a free market.”

I hear no less insanity in what this reader is saying than I would in these other two statements. This is why we’re all in mortal danger. Health care has been hampered by the government for decades, and under ObamaCare government will at last take total control … just in time for Medicare to go bankrupt, no less!

I would hate to be the kind of person who believed that we live in such an irrational universe that our only hope are places like the Center for Medicare Services and the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver us from all pain, discomfort and despair.

Anyone who actually thinks that free people have no incentive to do well is advocating a command and control society. But who is to do the commanding and controlling? The least capable. It’s not the Steve Jobs types — or other geniuses, including in the fields of medicine and medical research — who seek power over others. These kind of people seek power over human surroundings, so that humans may better manage and control their own lives. These are the kind of people who thrive in a free market, and these are the kind of people who require a free market in order to be all that they can be — and in the process benefit the rest of us, even though humanitarianism is not (nor should it be) their actual goal.

I want people to want to make a profit. I want people to want to succeed and be all that they can be. Not only is it inspiring and benevolent to live in a world where the best and the brightest are free to be all that they can be. It’s also of immense practical value. Leaving a free market free — or restoring one, as is now necessary in the US — means leaving people free to be the best that they can be.

Is it really in the interest of doctors and drug companies to keep people sick? If so, then it’s in the interest of doctors to find the most ineffective treatments they can and drug companies to make sure that they only produce sugar pills. Even if a bunch of doctors or drug companies were this irrational and narrow-minded, how long would it be before someone else came up with a treatment or a medicine that’s actually effective? Let’s say there were 100,000 doctors in America, and 99,999 were as irrational and narrow-minded as this reader claims. What would happen to those doctors the minute that one — only one — came up with a treatment that was actually effective and life-saving? People would rush to that doctor’s door and flood him beyond his capacity to treat patients. His self-esteem and his pocketbook would both flourish. The other doctors would feel compelled to abandon their irrationality and instead treat patients with methods that can actually work.

Anyone who thinks that a free market cannot work is actually saying that all human beings are horrible, irrational, petty and don’t even care about their own long-term, rational interests. I maintain that this is a gloomy and unfounded overstatement. But even if it were true, as I just illustrated, the overwhelming incentive would be for the one lone rational and competent exception to lift up everybody else.

If you’re so gloomy that you remain unconvinced, then let me ask you this question: If people are so irrational that none of them will ever seek out competence and effectiveness at a profit, then what is to motivate the government officials who are to take their place? If you can’t trust any human beings, then how can you trust politicians and bureaucrats? And if they are trustworthy and competent, then why can’t they develop their talents and capacities in a free market?

Reality is actually not such a horrible place. Liberals and socialists have concluded that it is, and they seek to impose their dark and dreadful viewpoints on the rest of us who might just be willing to give the reality of a free market a chance. Look at how much medical care in the United States has accomplished even in a hampered market, one with too much regulation and the partial socialization of Medicare. All of that will fade out if government completely takes over the practice of medicine, as it is now in the process of doing.

Americans are about to get less and less care for more and more money, completely bankrupting the government in the process. Now there’s something to be gloomy about. But it’s not because profit is bad and people are unable or unwilling to do well when left free to do so. It’s because people like this irate and malevolent-minded Big Government advocate have done everything they can to keep freedom from flourishing in medicine.