Health care is the great pet issue of Democrats; of liberals and the Left; and of non-Americans (Canada, Cuba, et al). It is an emotional issue and easy to exploit. After all, everybody can use health care. Getting sick is something that happens to all people, so health care affects us all, right?
That is the point, and therefore the point of this essay. In assessing the issue, we must use history as a template. Let us consider that there are many bad things that existed throughout Mankind's existence, until America came into being. The existence of America was not compatible with the existence of these bad things. America was stronger than the bad things, and therefore quelched it from existence. First and foremost, consider slavery, a thriving international institution that propelled trade between legitimate nations going as far back as history can recall. Along came America. Four score and seven years later, America was too strong for slavery to continue to exist as a legitimate enterprise. America is where slavery came to die.
Now, let us apply this method of causation to health care. Depending on whether you believe the Darwinians or the Creationists, man has existed on this planet for millions of years or 13,000 years. Either way, for all the time that man lived on the planet, our relationship with God or with mortality or whatever you wish to call it has been the same: we are born, we live a few years, we get sick, and we die. Some people died from other causes, but by and large, for thousands and thousands of years, life expectancy was roughly 20 or 30 years.
By 1787, the year the U.S. Constitution was written, the average lifespan was probably a little bit better, about 50-60 years. Anesthetics did not exist. "Surgery" was little more than butchery. It was not until the Civil War that doctors discovered that using dirty scalpels caused infections. Doctors were still "bleeding" patients. Leeches were still used. Strange home brews and elixirs of little value were all that could be offered.
If a person came down with cancer, it was a virtual death sentence. Heart attacks were fatal most of the time, as there was little to combat them beyond rest and bad care. Little was known about nutrition, exercise and other elements of good health.
Over the next 200 years, America happened. Everything that we associate with America occurred: freedom, Democracy, capitalism, entrpreneurialism, investment. Many of these concepts are viewed as evil by the Left, but the co-existence of these concepts with human progress is impossible to discount. To conceive that all the progress since 1787 has happened despite America, despite these concepts, is to make observation of that with which is obviously placed before thine eyes and to state the lie the lie that it is not there.
There are a number of reasons why medical progress has made progress by leaps and bounds beyond all conception since 1787. Christianity certainly plays a role, since missionary zeal and charity have propelled much of this progress. However, Christianity had been around a long time prior to America, and during much of this time doctors were little more than barbers.
Obviously, the Age of Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, the Great Awakening; whatever we want to call scientific discovery occurred mostly in Europe prior to America, although it should be noted that great discoveries and invention occurred in Asia Minor while Europeans were still cave-dwellers. Then came Islam, and since then little progress in these areas happened in that part of the world. What does this mean? No commentary is offered. Arrive at your own conclusions.
While we marvel at the work of Galileo, Da Vinci and Copernicus, the pace of advancement in their day was a snail's pace compared with the pace of advancement once America arrived on the scene in all its glory. Why has America accomplished things that the rest of the world did not even dare to imagine; in all areas of discovery? Why, in little over 200 years, has a single nation, starting out as a few agrarian colonies separated by oceans from the salons of commerce, politics and culture, eclipsed previous empires and powers? Frankly, the answer to that question is quite obvious, but it is best to discover it on your own, not at my prompting.
As America grew, medical breakthroughs took place at breakneck (pardon the pun) pace. Polio, vaccines, childhood diseases, dietary discoveries, cancer, heart disease, lately AIDS research; through these advancements, mostly in, inspired by or privately funded by America, life improved. Life span and quality of life got better and better and better. People now live until they are 90, even 100 years old. 40, as they say, is the new 30. 50 is the new 40. 60 will soon be the new 50 . . . and on and on and on. Seniors no longer retire. They are active, healthy, vibrant, and enjoy themselves in all ways. A 72-year John McCain is running for President and does not seem to be the worse for wear.
Why has health care improved so much in America? Is it because the government mandated that it be so?
The reason, boiled down to its barest essential, is because smart people who could be anything choose to enter medicine. Why? If you think that it is all about benevolence, you are wrong. They do it because they can make a great living from it. This is the reason most people choose any career.
Why, once these smart people get through medical school, survive the boards and rigorous internships, do they discover great things? Why do they produce great new pharmaceutical drugs? Why do they invent new products and services that help people live better and longer?
Is it because the government funds them, prompts them, and inspires them? Okay, the government sometimes gets involved in research and development, but to fool ones' self into believing this is the driving force behind medical advancements is tomfoolery. Liberals will argue against this. Liberals - and this is just the latest in the longest list known to man - would be wrong!
Health care improves mostly because of the profit motive. The profit motive drives individuals and corporations. The profit motive is most effective in the United States of America. Now, this is established. Next, we get to the result of all these health care improvements. Things that were unheard of 20 years ago are now available. Miracle drugs, stents, new technology, brain function, knowledge; it goes on and on.
How does this affect people? Well, ailments that 20, 30 years ago either killed them or left them in comas, bedridden, paralyzed, or in a state of recluse, can now be cured. Children can run free. Women can live without pain. Elders can hit the golf course. All is well.
But wait. There is a catch.
Let us get back to those smart people who, 20 or 30 years ago, decided to enter medical school, and who later on work in R&D, in cutting-edge hospitals, corporations and pharmaceutical companies.
Well, how did they accomplish all these wonderful things? First, they had to pay their way through medical school. Maybe they were on scholarship, financial aid, or whatever, but those professors' salaries, the books, the classrooms, the labs, and all the daily accoutrements of existence had to be paid for by somebody.
Then, when they became doctors and researchers, somebody had to pay their salaries. Somebody had to pay for their staffs, their equipment, their offices; somebody needed to pay for the time it took to accomplish excellence! Did this money come from the government? 90 percent always has and always will come from private industry by virtue of the profit motive.
The Apostle Paul in the New Testament states that greed and money is the root of all evil, and this may be so, but God does work in mysterious ways. There is a difference between greed and making an honest living in an honorable profession. Being a doctor is an honorable profession. Are there evil, greedy doctors? Yes? But lumping them all together because they mostly make a good living providing valuable services is not effective public policy. Yet nationalized health care is to do just that.
Let us get back to the incredible pace of medical advancements over the past 20 to 50 years and how that affects the average person. In 1970 a woman brings her child to a doctor with a severe malady. The doctor diagnoses it and says that, sorry, there is little that can be done. The child dies, or lives a shortened life, or a life of severe pain and reduced quality.
38 years pass, and some $1 billion has been spent on this particular affliction, with the result being that the malady which sidelined a child in 1970 can now be cured. That $1 billion has been spent on the educations of thousands of doctors, plus all the ancillary costs associated with arriving at the cure in question.
Let us, for a minute, remove this question from the medical arena and make it something else. Let us call it an automobile. In 1970, the 18-year old kid would like a hot rod car worthy of Le Mans. This car, however, is not available to the public. It is a specialty car available only to race car drivers. He is not a race car driver, cannot afford it and therefore does not own it. In 2008 the 18-year old kid still wants that car. Now, it is a luxury car that only the richest of the rich can afford. The auto industry has figured out a way to streamline this car so that people other than race car drivers can have it, but the 18-year still cannot afford it and still does not own it. Is it society's responsibility that he have it? Of course not.
Apply this logic to anything: real estate, boats, high-tech equipment. By and large, people buy what they can afford and it is to the benefit of the economy that the government not interfere. This is the basic concept of supply and demand that drives the marketplace, and to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it might be the worst form of economic policy known to man, with the exception of all other forms of economic policy known to man.
So, to break it down, diseases that for thousands of years killed or sickened people can now be cured, only it costs a lot of money to accomplish this task. People, however, want to be cured. If they are sick and know that a cure is available, they want it . . . at all costs, especially if those costs are absorbed by somebody else. If the cost is $1 million, just to use a round number, obviously this is unaffordable to all but maybe five percent of the populace . . .but they want it anyway. In the old days, they were told they would not survive the malady. They accepted this prognosis because it was just the way it was. Now it is different. Why? Because, mostly in America, the prognosis has changed. They know that a cure is available.
Ah, therein lies the Shakespearean rub. In America. These medical breakthroughs take place mostly in America. Sure, there are good doctors and some fine research that takes place in England, France and maybe a small handful of other nations, but let's face it: 90 percent of this kind of advancement is, like 90 percent of everything good that has happened for 200 years, something that happens, as they say, only in America.
Well, it takes little in the way of logic to see where this is going. If it can be found only in America, they all will come to America. Thus we see that America's great health care helps to drive illegal immigration, among other things. We see that Englishmen leave England and Canadians leave Canada to seek medical care in America that is available . . . only in America.
Leftists will state that Cuba's socialized medical care, for instance, is the best in the world. This is not true, but they say it anyway. There is a world in Webster's dictionary that defines such a thing.
Okay, so we have established that the best health care is in America; that the profit motive is the driving force behind it; and that because it costs a lot of money to achieve the advancements, it therefore stands to reason that it costs a lot of money to purchase it.
Okay, we now arrive at the moral equation. You thought I would never get there, right? As a free marketeer, an unreconstructed conservative, even though my logic was unflawed it was, like the works of Ayn Rand, purely objectivist and therefore lacking in sympathy. Not so fast. Conservatism is the most compassionate of all forms of ideology. However, the pure logic - as opposed to emotional hand-wringing of the Left - that drives it makes it too often appear to be unfeeling.
Health care is not the same as buying an auto, or a luxury boat, or a hot new stereo system. To be healthy is much more important to the five-year old, the 18-year old, the 50-year old and the 85-year old, than a mansion or sports car.
So, how do we make it available and affordable? Well, according to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, we make it a government program. Since the founding of America, successful government programs are few and far between. What is the government good at? Well, a few things. Keeping Communists from invading our shores. Defeating Hitler. Building highways and bridges. There is zero evidence that government ever has been or ever will be good at providing health care, which as I have so expertly demonstrated in the preceding paragraphs is successful when the private sector engages in it for profit.
Okay, fine. But we still get back to the moral equation. Do we stand around and watch the poor black kid, the illegal Mexican, or the average white blue collar guy, get sick and die because the treatment he/she needs costs too much?
Well, the world is not fair. Advancement and technology outpaces need. People live and die. This is our relationship with God. It cannot be prevented. Democrats want you to believe that but-for greedy health care providers you too will never die, The serpent said something similar to Eve in the Garden, too. All people cannot be treated and made whole all the time, especially when so many are poor and from other countries only because the health care they seek is only found here. This is a basic fact of life . . . and death.
What about volunteerism? A fine concept, well embraced by Biblical principles. Take Doctors Without Borders, for example. It is a noble ideal, to give of ones' time in order to help the needy. Nobody should dissuade against the notion. But consider also the cause-and-effect of preventive medicine, or preventive technology. Consider on the one hand one doctor treating one patient at a time in, say, Guatemala or Ethiopia. Consider also a large corporation that creates, via technology, some device that feeds thousands, or prevents thousands from getting sick in the first place. Both concepts have their place. The volunteer will always be necessary. The corporation that prevents disease or starvation will invariably succeed because . . . the profit motive. There is an ideology - liberalism - embraced by a political party - the Democrats - that will have you believe the myth that the profit-driven corporation is evil. They know it is not true. They say it anyway.
Finally, let us re-visit the cost of health care. Sure, it is expensive because the training, research and development is costly, but it is mostly expensive . . . because of trial lawyers.
Its is mostly expensive because of trial lawyers like John Edwards. This man represents the essence of what is wrong with the tort system in America. He took corporations to trial, played to the fears of mis-led juries, and got super-wealthy extracting enormous sums from the very corporations that discover and produce the very treatments they need to get healthy. One has to admit, however, the man has chutzpah. Despite his complicity in making the system what it is, he with a straight face will stare into the camera and state the lie that only the government can reduce the health care costs he is responsible for making so expensive.
Of course, since medical advancements are so far ahead of the economic curve, the high costs of cutting edge treatment cannot entirely be avoided, but how many billions of dollars have the trial lawyers cost the medical industry? Doctors, hospitals, pharmaceuticals; they all factor these costs into their products, their services and the insurance policies that must absorb the brunt of the John Edwards's of the world.
This is the truth about health care.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism