1. Colcord says

    I commend Mr. Wolf for taking and expressing interest in the well being and productivity of others. Tangible improvement may follow good intent, though it is not guaranteed, particularly when you place the responsibility of attaining the goal upon those that have little true motive to do so, and will suffer little negative consequence if they fail.

    An opportunity of decent health for each and every citizen is a laudable goal. Surely any and all responsible, ethical leaders of our nation, states, and cities over the past few hundred years gave the matter of public health significant consideration. I’d say they succeeded for the most part. We should celebrate this accomplishment and not be so quick to abandon the methods and mindset that prevailed and have been largely effective. That mindset being to not interfere with the individuals management of their own health. That mindset being to trust the citizenry to do what is in their own self-interest.

    But, we do have some stark and frightening examples of government leaders abusing public health when funds and power are provided:

    “The Tuskegee syphilis experiment[1] (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study or Public Health Service syphilis study) was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama, by the U.S. Public Health Service. Investigators recruited 399 impoverished African-American sharecroppers with syphilis for research related to the natural progression of the untreated disease, in hopes of justifying treatment programs for blacks.”

    “In addition, scientists prevented participants from accessing syphilis treatment programs available to others in the area. The study continued, under numerous supervisors, until 1972, when a leak to the press resulted in its termination. Victims included numerous men who died of syphilis, wives who contracted the disease, and children born with congenital syphilis”

    And what high hopes they had! Syphilis was cured, right? Or, the government made it much harder to contract, right? No to both. Note that the Public Health Service was and still is the primary division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At the least, a private company would likely have to change their name to escape such a legacy. More likely, a private company would be out of business.

    Whereas, Uncle Sam didn’t stop the Tuskegee syphilis study until caught red-handed, and didn’t apologize for 30 years after that. Who shall the government compensate for the injury to these untreated syphilis victims when those victims are long dead? Your tax money was used to PREVENT the treatment of diseased citizens. Seems the persons that actually benefited from this scheme were just the government employees and their sycophants. Those harmed being the poor victims, and to much lesser extent, the taxpayer. Each and every citizen of this country should outraged and embarrassed about this, and be skeptical of the present and future conduct of the U.S. Public Health Service, much less to be in a rush to provide this agency additional funding and power. For the evils of government are often discovered when it is too late.

    Consider how seldom government employees go to prison, compared to private sector employees, for misdeeds carried out during employment. Who is easier to capture and bring to justice? Hitler or Charles Manson?

    Back to health care and the individual. Forcing other people to labor specifically for your salvation or benefit, if government interference is a mechanism resulting in reduced or no compensation for any portion of the efforts expended by that laborer in pursuit of their main occupation, is not a right. An opportunity of decent health is provided to the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens at birth. Loss of this state of being is typically through delinquency, poisoning, act of contagion or parasite, or injury. If the afflicted can prove that their plight is due to the irresponsibility of others, then it is a matter for the courts or private settlement. If those means do not satisfy, lastly one may consider revenge against the specific parties that damaged you. Why would you make it a stranger’s problem?

    Citizens generally being required to take their trash to the curb is an example of small-c communism that tends to encourage appropriate and useful behavior. It requires a little effort on the part of each individual to not offend or infringe upon his neighbors. No public employee automatically cleans up the yard or home after the family reunion or holiday party you hosted.

    Sure, there are a few people that prefer to live in a stinking trash heap. And, we usually leave them alone until it gets to the point of being obnoxious and significantly interferes with the rights of others. Then, the offender is cited and fined, and/or even helped out of a mess. Most people just take our their trash and we don’t make it a leading matter of great public debate.

    Many would argue that you receiving reduced or free services from the public in the event of a rotten liver or syphilis is a reaction that won’t encourage useful behavior. It’s hardly more difficult for a sound person to refrain from drinking or having unprotected sex than it is to take out the trash. Here’s a distinction; is it my right to DEMAND that my fellows be healthy? If you say it is, then why? How are you being harmed by a neighbor or coworker that has a rotten liver or syphilis? Can you easily do something to avoid that alleged harm?

    Of course, if you’re the type that doesn’t mind the government supervising what each individual does with their digestive system and genitals, then perhaps ‘negative’ behaviors can be curtailed, but only at a great expense to freedom. I really don’t mind so much if others prefer to destroy their liver or contract syphilis. We can’t readily smell or see something offensive from across the street as a typical result of human health problems in modern civilization. Seldom could it interfere with our pursuit of happiness unless we place ourselves at risk.

    The plan for free, guaranteed public health care is based upon stealing a non-trivial portion of livelihood and love of life from U.S. citizens.

    As an example of government intrusiveness, my city may fine people for having a single fallen tree limb in their backyard, even if the limb is not visible to non-trespassers. If we extend this micro-managing mindset to government involvement with health care and the citizens’ bodies, consider the aesthetics of the typical unclothed human.

    How is the nation, the republic, to be rationally involved in the judgment of an individual’s warts, moles, cankers? Shall we have bureaucrats judge whether an individual’s appeal to the dept of health and human services to keep a mole is worthy, or do we force the surgical removal of the mole against the wishes of mole bearer? Perhaps we should just fine or confine the mole bearer until they submit. This isn’t paranoia. A wide range of policies and activities already enacted and conducted by governments across our land beg us to consider how any new health care involvement will be abused. Government abuse is well known and deplored by the majority of those working in the *private* sector.

    Given present circumstance, there is no strong, appropriate, expensive role for the government in the management of individual health in a purportedly free society.

    These progressive socialist leaders in government wanting to manage the health of individual citizens health don’t look like olympians, and don’t have a much greater life expectancy than the masses. They’re not healthier than most of us, so why would you listen to their health advice or allow them to legislate the management of your health?

    Oh, but some might say the whole country is sick, that these progressive socialist leaders are just representative. I will remind you that these leaders receive government health care that is less costly, and less intrusive to them, then the system they would foist upon private citizens, yet is still not effective in preventing.

    [1]source: Wikipedia

    • says

      Well, with regard to the syphilis issue, I don’t recall claiming that the U.S. government has always acted in a sane, effective, and ethically appropriate manner. We all know that is not the case. To conclude that government hardly ever acts in that fashion and should be opposed at every turn is quite a logical leap, however.

      I also don’t recall claiming that government should force people to go to the doctor. There is a difference between that and making available the opportunity to go to a doctor — no?

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