AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

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All Americans Should Not Have to Pay for Some Americans’ Misdeeds, Bad Habits or Stupid Choices

Good post by “zombie” regarding the debate over whether or not America should implement universal, single-payer health care: Why America Hates Universal Health Care: The Real Reason

An excerpt:

A built-in false assumption with the health-care debate is that sickness is always no-fault sickness. It’s never socially acceptable to assign blame for people’s medical problems — especially blame on the patient.

But I’m not afraid to confess that I’m a judgmental person. And I’m pretty confident that most Americans who oppose socialized medicine share this same judgment: that some people are partly or entirely to blame for their unwellness.

I’m perfectly willing to provide subsidized health care to people who are suffering due to no fault of their own. But in those cases — which, unfortunately, constitute perhaps a majority of all cases — where the unwellness is a consequence of the patient’s own misdeeds, bad habits, or stupid choices, I feel a deep-seated resentment that the rest of us should pick up the tab to fix medical problems that never should have happened in the first place.

I’m speaking specifically of medical problems caused by:

• Obesity
• Cigarette smoking
• Alcohol abuse
• Reckless behavior
• Criminal activity
• Unprotected promiscuous sex
• Use of illicit drugs
• Cultural traditions
• Bad diets

Now, I really don’t care if you overeat, smoke like a chimney, hump like a bunny or forget to lock the safety mechanism on your pistol as you jam it in your waistband. Fine by me. And as a laissez-faire social-libertarian live-and-let-live kind of person, I would never under normal circumstances condemn anyone for any of the behaviors listed above. That is: Until the bill for your stupidity shows up in my mailbox. Then suddenly, I’m forced to care about what you do, because I’m being forced to pay for the consequences.

What I don’t like about the very concept of universal health care is that it compels me to become my brother’s keeper and insert myself into the moral decisions of his life. I’d rather grant each person maximum freedom. I’d prefer to let people make whatever choices they want, however stupid or dangerous I may deem those choices to be. Just so long as you take responsibility for your actions, and you reap the consequences and pay for them yourself — hey, be as foolish or hedonistic or selfish or thoughtless as you like. Not my business.

But if the bill for your foolishness shows up in the form of higher taxes on me, then I unwillingly start to care what you do. And, trust me on this, you don’t want me turning my heartless judgmental eye on your foolish lifestyle. Because I’d have no qualms criticizing half the stuff you do.

Do you want that? No. Do I want that? No. And that’s the point. [ … ]

Also, a good comment left in the comments section:

stuiec on Dec 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm:

Hmmm. Isn’t your doctor supposed to tell you frankly about how you can improve your present health and avoid future disease? I prefer having my doctor tell me to lose weight than to have my city ban trans-fats or tax soft drinks: I can take or leave my doctor’s advice based on my own judgment but the actions of my city (or state, or national) government reduce my freedom.

One of the related problems our society has is the inability to accept any bad outcome, regardless of cause or fault. For example, I would be fine with a law that said that ambulance crews have the right to refuse treatment to motorcyclists who are injured while riding without a helmet – but apparently either I am in a tiny minority or my elected representatives think that I am, and so every motorcyclist has to relinquish the freedom to choose to go without a helmet.

If you prohibit someone from doing something stupid that they really want to do, even though you do it for “their own good,” they aren’t going to thank you for saving them from something that might never happen – they’ll resent you for not letting them make their own damn mistakes.

This also applies to seat-belt laws. Instead of allowing people to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a seat belt — and then deal with any consequences which come from that decision — we are (1) forced by law to wear a seat-belt and (2) punished by law with a ticket and fine of ~$100 (depending on the laws of the locality) for not wearing one.

Another good point made by “zombie”: universal single-payer health care leads to fascism:

[ … ] As above, under normal circumstances I would sigh in mystification and let other people go their merry way, killing themselves with bad food. Yet once I start to ponder the overwhelming society-wide medical costs of keeping millions of unhealthy people alive for decades and decades, my anger grows. I want to ban advertisements for unhealthy foods on TV. I want to outlaw donuts. I want to tax McDonald’s to cover the full environmental cost of their products. I want to do all sorts of quasi-fascistic things that normally I would never advocate.

Because that’s what socialized medicine does: it turns each of us into a little fascist. A nagging nanny who tells other people what to do and how to live.

Do we want that kind of society? I don’t. If you look at other countries with socialized medicine, Great Britain being the most glaring example, these invasive and oppressive government dictates have already started to circumscribe people’s freedom, with every kind of potentially dangerous activity or unhealthy comestible being declared forbidden — for the good of society as a whole.

We call it “socialized medicine,” but in the end it pushes us toward fascism.

Yep. And if you don’t believe that these fascistic law would be next in line after Obama and the Democrats implement universal single-payer healthcare, you haven’t been paying attention. Just look at one example of what they are doing as a result of their believe in the AGW hoax: giving energy companies control over people’s thermostats. You can be damn sure there will be more where that came from.

Another great comment. And a principle which I do not think most proponents of Obamacare even understand: you lose your freedom when someone else owns you. And that is exactly what happens under Obamacare: others are paying your bill, thus, they own you and your lifestyle choices. It basically becomes a parent-child relationship. Think of the “so long as you live under my roof, you will follow my rules” rant of a parent to a rebellious child. The same principle applies here. In this analogy, all Americans are the parents and every other American are the children. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of simply cutting off our children’s allowance or kicking them out of the house if they refuse to follow our rules. Universal single-payer health care basically mandates that we are parents-for-life, whether we want to be or not.

Mike T on Dec 17, 2009 at 10:31 am:

That said, I agree with you about the busybody ramifications here. I personally applaud the British NHS for having the integrity to start telling the public that if the chavs want their healthcare paid for by the tax payers, the NHS will be moral-bound to start regulating their pleasures so that it can control costs. Once you make others foot your bills, you lose your right of self-determination.


December 18, 2009 , 3:14PM - Posted by | Conservatism, Fascism, Healthcare, Liberalism, Socialism


  1. I’m not big on the nanny-state argument as a buttress to this, because we’re headed in that direction, anyway. Unless you believe municipalities have the right to ban trans-fats or smoking in adults-only areas.

    But even then, there’s an intermediate stage. It’s not a conscious thought, but for many people, one of the reasons why they don’t indulge in the self-destructive behaviors above is because there’s a price to pay, both in their health and in the literal, financial sense.

    But if every medical procedure is paid for by someone else, there will at one point be license to indulge in those behaviors because the financial consequence will be lifted. I can eat this donut because the government will pay for my gastric bypass! Sweet!

    Eventually the government will clamp down (which, like I said, we’re tending toward that process, anyway), but in the interim, a lot of society will do damage to themselves that we’re going to pick up the tab for.

    Comment by INCITEmarsh | December 18, 2009 , 9:06PM

    • “Unless you believe municipalities have the right to ban trans-fats or smoking in adults-only areas.”

      Nope, I don’t agree with the trans-fat bans nor the smoking bans (even though I ‘hate’ the smoking habit and refuse to hang around people when they smoke. And I find it highly annoying to see smokers use the earth as their personal ashtray, flinging their butts out their car windows and throwing their butts on the ground where ever they please.)

      I talked about this a little bit HERE.

      Comment by Michael in MI | December 18, 2009 , 9:12PM

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