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Pro-con on 'socialized medicine'

The rap on what is sometimes called socialized medicine is that if the government ran the system, the wait would be interminable. Well, I am here to tell you that even when the government does not run the system, the wait can be interminable. And uncomfortable. It is not government bureaucrats who say that certain treatments will not be covered, and it is not the government that purges insurance rolls of the sick or the old, and it is not the government that makes money — lots of money — on health insurance. It is private enterprise. But the insurance industry sets out to spook the public with talk of "socialized medicine" and "government bureaucrats" and "government-run health care." The ongoing health care debate is complex and complicated — not as interesting as Michael Jackson or Sarah Palin. But in deciding what to do and who to support in the current attempt to reform health care, don't rely on insurance industry propaganda, but on your own experience. Recall the last time you went to the emergency room and ask yourself if the government could possibly do a worse job. — Richard Cohen, Washington Post

The idea that every life is infinitely precious and therefore everyone deserves the same kind of optimal medical care is a fine religious sentiment and moral ideal. As political and economic policy, it is vainglorious delusion. Rich and educated people not only receive better goods and services in all areas of life than do poor and uneducated people, they also tend to take better care of themselves and their possessions, which in turn leads to better health. The first requirement for better health care for all is not equal health care for everyone but educational and economic advancement for everyone. We must stop talking about "health care" as if it were some kind of collective public service, like fire protection, provided equally to everyone who needs it. No government can provide the same high-quality body repair services to everyone. Not all doctors are equally good physicians, and not all sick persons are equally good patients. If we persevere in our quixotic quest for a fetishized medical equality we will sacrifice personal freedom as its price. We will become the voluntary slaves of a "compassionate" government that will provide the same low-quality health care to everyone. — Thomas Szasz, Wall Street Journal

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