Friday, April 23, 2010

Health Care and Politics

I have been told by many that there are two things you never talk about: politics and religion.  I realize that I have broken these rules, but these seem to be the things that are most important in life and are at the forefront of the mind recently. 

It has been interesting to hear from my liberal friends and collegues about my last comments.  I find that the conversation and communication is important for two reasons.  First, truth is independant, and the only way to identify truth is to hear it, read about it, or find it through civil discussion with those around you. The truth about health care has been weighing upon my mind in the last year.

It has been upon my mind because it is what I do for 12-16 hours per day.  I am in the business of rendering care and attempting to provide the best care possible in few minutes I have with each patient.  But I am finding that political influences of both our state and nation have drastically affected the number of minutes I can spend, the type of care I can render and the choices I can offer to my beloved patients.  I have found that these political voices can no longer be silently ignored.  

As I have read, listened and discussed this with many around me (both conservative and liberal), I am finding there are really only two voices.  Those voices speak at various points along a spectrum of desired liberties, but there are really only two voices.  There are those voices that speak the language of the founders of this republic who understood that true freedom comes from liberty, and there are those that speak the voice of progressivism whos concepts of freedom are defined by various degrees of socialism. 

I have been accused of not understanding socialism and seeing all change in society as socialistic.  This is not the case.  Socialism, as it was defined in "school," is that society in which there is no private property. It is where the collective or governmental ownership oversees the distribution of goods and services. Socialism as defined by Marxist theory is a stage in society between capitalism and communism.  These political doctrines are founded in our understanding and acceptance of the concept of property ownership.  We see this in governments around the world in varying degrees in countries like France, Venisuala, Sweden, and Laos, etc.

Private property and liberty are insperable. We lose our liberty as the right to hold private property is removed. The difference in views between our country's founders and the progressives is their understanding of the conferrance of freedoms based on the liberties granted by ownership of private property.  Communism is defined as a society where ownership of private property does not exist.  In the words of Abraham Lincoln, "We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.  With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor.  Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name liberty.  And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny."

How do these political ideologies relate to medicine?  Well, lets think about a three other concepts.  First, those things that make us different from every other country in the world are defined in our Declaration of Independance: 
   "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
We believe that being created in equality, we each have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  This statement does not guarantee happiness, but states that we have a right to liberty and life.  We have a right to act in this life in those ways that will bring us liberty, the right do those things that allow us the ownership of personal property and seeking those things in our lives that bring us happiness.

Second, life is full of change.  Our society is different from what it was in 1776, the time when our founders wrote the words of the Declaration, and our society will be different 100 years from now.  Change is important; however, our assessment and acceptance of change must be done with prudence.  But, that which is lost in our society today is prudence.  Prudence is of the highest of virtues because its judgement is drawn from wisdom.  Prudence was exercised as a basis of society in 1776 because of man's view of himself before his maker.  Our Declaration states that these rights are "God given."  Today, many question even the existance of a maker, and prudence is lost. With prudence being lost in our society, our general ability to assess the way societal changes affect us now and in the future is greatly limited.

Third, it is important that we understand the definition of capitalism.  Capitalism is defined as an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of goods or services, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market
So, how then does this relate you your medical care?  Your ability to obtain care relates you your understanding of what medical care actually is.  Medical care is essentially property.  You buy services. Medical care is a service or commodity, just as your home or car is a commodity with ownership. The progressive view goes beyond the statement that "men are created equal" and asserts that men should receive equally, a socialistic view.  They extrapolate that men should therefore recieve medical care equally as it paints medical care as a right.  Medical care is not a right.  Medical care is a commodity which is purchased.  Your body was designed to heal itself.  When disease, illness or injury occurs, assistance to those bodily functions of healing can and should be sought as the "pursuit of happiness."  Medical care is thereby a service that is rendered either through purchase or through a charitable act. 
So then the politics of medical care then also pertain to our liberties and our freedoms. Our government was designed as a republic for our protection and to ensure life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  Our constitution provides an environment for us to seek our own happiness while not infringing upon the lives of those around us.  We are free then to seek happiness through our own inginuity, free to protect ourselves, and free to take individual risks.  When injury or illness arises, we are free to seek care and healing above and beyond what our body will do on its own. 
The progressive or socialistic view is that men have the right to recieve the same or equal care.  Seen as a right, the progressive government mandates this care.  The problem with this view is that our liberties are then taken away, because a politician decides what care is best and how often you can recieve it.  In a capitalistic society, the medical provider will attempt to provide the best most efficient care to be competative in that society.  In a socialistic society, the medical provider has no incetive to become better or to provide a better service, because the same service is mandated by the governmental politician.   Yes, the care is free, but your liberties of "pursuing happiness" through the type and quality of your care is now infringed upon, and your freedom is restricted. 
I am affraid that our so-called "liberals," as well as our progressive republicans in society, desire to recieve the benefits of socialism in a capitalistic society.  These two concepts are diametrically opposed to each other.  Capitalism, and the medical services created and rendered therein, cannot succeed in a socialistic society requiring limitation of liberty under the guise of "medical equality."
Our medical system is broken.  We have allowed our government to create programs like Medicare and Medicaid, socialistic programs, trying to create equality and limiting our liberty.  We are now dependant upon these medical insurance programs created and expanded 50 years ago under progressive presidencies and congress.  We, the children and grandchildren of these leaders, must now deal with the consequences of socialistic action.
May we recognize our real rights, and may we pick leadership to help us solve these problems and learn to more effectively pursue life, liberty and happiness.

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