Let Him Die

September 20, 2011

Everyone saw the Wolf Blitzer "let him die" exchange, right? I'm glad we're at least talking about things like this. It was unthinkable even in the last election. So here comes the inevitable shock and repudiation from the left.

When Dr. Paul ducked, fondly recalling the good old days before Medicare and saying that we should all take responsibility for ourselves, Blitzer pressed the point.

How is this "ducking"? I suppose some people can't even comprehend that this could be the actual answer.

"But, Congressman, are you saying the society should just let him die?" At that point, the rabble erupted in cheers and whoops of "Yeah!"

I don't know if two or three guys is a rabble, but I'll concede the point. What I wonder is why the reactions of the crowd are used to criticize Dr. Paul? He answered "no". Why isn't that mentioned anywhere in the article?

The GOP contenders relentlessly attack "Obamacare" as "socialized medicine." But they won't speak up for either of the other two choices available to them: the arguably more socialized system we have hitherto lived with or the Blitzer option of letting the uninsured die in the streets.

The false dichotomy that won't die: Either the government does X, or no one will do X.

No one will make TV shows any more if PBS shuts down, right? Come on.

Of course television won't go away without PBS. And you know what people like even more than TV? Staying alive. The idea that no one will keep themselves and their loved ones alive voluntarily is retarded.

In this universe, our hypothetical young man receives at least emergency care because hospitals are required to treat the urgently ill without regard for their ability to pay, thanks to a bill signed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. But the costs of his treatment are not absorbed by the hospitals. They are passed on to consumers, employers, and the government in the form of higher insurance premiums. One 2009 study estimated the cost absorbed by those who are insured for those who aren't at $1,100 per family. This is one of the ways in which the pre-Obama health care system is socialized — indirectly, inefficiently, and unfairly.

Are there types of socialism that aren't indirect, inefficient and unfair? Oh, but your plan will be different because you have good intentions! Sure. No one had good intentions in 1986 when they passed this bill. They were assholes.

The third option is that of the Tampa Tea Party mob: Let the young man go to the devil. You can sugar-coat this, as Ron Paul tried to, by suggesting that private charity will step in to help. But we no longer have an extensive system of charity hospitals.

So, what? We never will? We never even can? Of course we can. This observation seems irrelevant.

Anyway, here's how I would have answered Wolf's follow-up question:

No. Of course society shouldn't let him die. But I suspect you're conflating society with the government. The government isn't society, and it isn't master over society.

With that in mind, allow me to elaborate. Society shouldn't let him die, but it may let him die. That is one of its legitimate choices. So in that scenario, should the government let him die? There is no "should" or "should not" in this context, as the government may not do anything either way. In a sense, the government must let him die. To be more accurate, the government must let society do what it will, which hopefully leads to a long happy life for this guy. If it drops the ball, he might very well die. This is unfortunate, but the alternative is an upside-down world where the government tells society what to do.

Misfortune, even when it's as serious as terminal illness, is not a crime. Telling other people what to do, even when you mean well, absolutely is.

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