A uniquely American plan for health care reform
One of the arguments that President Obama and his supporters have been making for expanding government control in the health care industry is that their reforms will be “uniquely American.” For instance, in the June 24 ABC Health Care Forum, the President said,
We’ve been talking about how do we provide care that is high-quality, gives people choices, and how can we come up with a uniquely American plan, because one of the ideological debates that I think has prevented us from making progress is, some people say this is socialized medicine and others say, we need a completely free market system. We need to come up with something that is uniquely American.
In other words, under his plan health care in the United States will be guaranteed by government, but it will be different from that of Canada, France, Britain or any other nation that has implemented a variant of socialized medicine. We’ll provide health care to all, the President is saying, but we won’t have any of the problems of those other nations. We’ll do it right. It will be universal, but it won’t be socialized. We’ll do it the American way.
But what is the American way? Ayn Rand provided some profound insights on this question in her essay, “Man’s Rights” (read the essay here):
The most profoundly revolutionary achievement of the United States of America was the subordination of society to moral law. The principle of man’s individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system—as a limitation on the power of the state, as man’s protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right. The United States was the first moral society in history. All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself. The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary co-existence of individuals. All previous systems had held that man’s life belongs to society, that society can dispose of him in any way it pleases, and that any freedom he enjoys is his only by favor, by the permission of society, which may be revoked at any time. The United States held that man’s life is his by right (which means: by moral principle and by his nature), that a right is the property of an individual, that society as such has no rights, and that the only moral purpose of a government is the protection of individual rights.
The distinctiveness of America was thus that it set man free from other men. That uniquely American document, the Declaration of Independence, was premised on the idea that each individual has the moral right to his own life, to live free from coercion and with no duty to subordinate his mind and values to anyone. Yet government provided health care can only be provided by violating this right, by forcing men to provide and pay for the health care of others and of themselves.
A “uniquely American” health care plan is a contradiction. In an America true to its founding principles, no aspect of any individual’s life is planned by a bureaucrat in Washington. Health care is not a right; government should be powerless to provide it. That is the uniquely American perspective. The only valid health care reforms are those which phase out government involvement in the industry.