It is good to have regular reminders of errors in judgment from your past and as I have said before, my dalliance with libertarianism is one of those errors that are pretty painfully obvious in retrospect. Case in point, a guy I follow on Twitter, Austin Petersen, said this the other day:
Austin ran for President as a capital “L” libertarian in 2016, finishing 2nd to pothead Gary Johnson and then switched gears and ran for the Republican nomination in the Senate race in Missouri in 2018, coming in a distant third. From what I can tell Austin has never had a serious job. He has a degree in musical theater from academic powerhouse Southwest Missouri State University and worked a couple of odd jobs including modeling. Otherwise he has been a failed politician or a political commentator.
Here is more serious political theory from Austin…
Only took one tweet for him to throw down the Nazi card. Super serious thinker.
Like I have said so many times, libertarianism is very much akin to another, strangely similar, political theory in socialism as both of them only make any sense a) if you don’t think about the consequences and b) don’t have a clue about human nature.
Generally speaking, the medical system is not anyone’s idea of a private sector industry.
Most medical schools are at public universities where they receive an enormous amount of Federal funding and their med students are almost entirely getting some sort of Federal student assistance. You can argue about whether or not that should be the case, another dumb libertarian waste of time, but that is how it is and how it will be for as long as we have a functioning society.
Hospitals are also mostly public, at the very least ostensibly not-for-profit. They receive all sorts of preferential treatment because, and this is an important concept that gets overlooked by the hardcore libertarian, hospitals are a public good. They exist to provide a critical service to the public. A hospital is not a Nordstroms or a Pizza Hut and we don’t treat them as such. We have collectively decided that a hospital providing care is more important than hospitals maximizing efficiency. It would be more efficient to let elderly people or people with chronic health issues die but that isn’t what we want in our system.
This might sound like heresy to some but….
Not everything in a functional society is best run as a free market institution with an eye on profitability.
Even more so than things like museums and zoos, hospitals fill a critical need in our society and they are open to everyone. I haven’t needed to go to the hospital for me or a family member in a long time but I sure like knowing they are there if we need them. Would they be better run in a strictly private sector setting? Who knows and it doesn’t matter because that is never going to happen. Ever. How many votes would a bill to end Medicare and Medicard get in Congress? Maybe a couple in the House, and zero in the Senate, but that sort of bill would never even get to the stage of a committee hearing because there is no political appetite from anyone to get all government intervention out of the health care system.
When someone calls 911 and the ambulance rushes them to the emergency room, that isn’t a time for an experiment in the freedom of association. Do we want ER docs to decide to not treat someone having a heart attack because they are obese or a patient with life threatening injuries due to an auto accident that was driving a little aggressively? There isn’t a person alive who hasn’t made thousands of small decisions during the course of their life that were not healthy. If a fat person comes in with a heart attack, the doctor is morally obligated to treat them and if a gangster comes in with multiple gunshot wounds from a drive-by carried out by a rival drug dealer, you still try to save them.
Going a little more into the absurd, if you live in a small town and the only doctor within 50 miles also lives in that town, should he be able to refuse to treat you because he saw a Trump sign in your yard last year? Or what about a Muslim doctor who doesn’t want to treat a Jew who comes into the ER?
Sometimes the free market, assuming we even have such a thing, is not the best answer but almost all the time libertarians are clowns and unserious people.