Monday, October 22, 2007

The Song That Is Irresistible

Robert Higgs' Schlarbaum Award Acceptance Speech (full text): The Song That Is Irresistible

This is arguably one of the best libertarian speeches/articles that I have ever read. Check it out when you have the time!

The poem cited is by Margaret Atwood, entitled "Siren Song" (1976).

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

The song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

The song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can
’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don
’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.

Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

At last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ron Paul on Health Care

The reason I post this in full text is that the original page doesn't separate paragraphs very well. However, I give full attribution to A.S. Erickson and the Darthmouth Review for an excellent writeup.

The Dartmouth Review: Ron Paul, M.D. Speaks on Health Care
Ron Paul, M.D. Speaks on Health Care

Sunday, October 14, 2007

By A. S. Erickson

On September 29th Texas Congressman and Republican Presidential Candidate Dr. Ron Paul—the only candidate who is a doctor—spoke to students of Dartmouth Medical School about his health care platform. A palpable air of anticipation filled the room prior to Paul taking the lectern. The students in the room, predominately liberal, were actually excited to hear what this Republican had to say about health care. I’ve seen talking heads assign Paul’s popularity on college campuses to his stance on the Iraq War (decidedly non-interventionist), but in the auditorium students weren’t talking about foreign policy. Instead, praise for Paul abounded based on his honesty and integrity. Students knew that he said what he actually believed, and, if elected, he would act on what he has promised.

Paul began his remarks by telling students that, “the medical system is going well except for a few groups: the patients, the doctors, the hospitals, the labs, and the politicians. Everybody else is happy.”

Paul weaved commentary on the current health care situation into a short autobiographical speech. He spoke of getting drafted for the Vietnam War in 1962, fresh out of Duke Medical School. He commented that working for the Army wasn’t so bad as his pay went from $195 per month in residency to $700. While in the military he moonlighted three nights a month at the local hospital.

“The amazing thing was it was the city hospital and there was no government; there [was] very little insurance and nobody was turned away whether they were illegal or legal, and nobody, nobody was quizzed. If you didn’t have the money, you didn’t pay, and people came in, and it wasn’t that bad. People didn’t lay on the side walks. You’re more likely to hear stories today of people being neglected in emergency rooms…and dying on stretchers—because we have managed care.” Paul often came back to this point in referencing the health problems of today. He is certain that the problems with today’s health care stem from too much government involvement, not too little. “This whole idea that we need centralized economic planning in anything is a fallacy, and it’s a temptation to say, ‘Yes, we can’t have central economic planning for electronics, televisions, and cell phones because we want efficiency of delivery service, but medicine is different.’”

A major problem with today’s society, according to Paul, is the confusion of “needs” and “rights”: “We have rights to our lives and liberty and we have a right to pursue our happiness and we should have the right to keep the fruits of our labor. We have a moral obligation to help our fellow man.” That doesn’t mean, however, that we have a right to affordable health care.

Paul noted that because of all these governmental programs “charity work doesn’t seem to exist anymore; yet there was a time when there was substantial charity work….We’ve gotten this way because the government put us this way.”

Accordingly Paul warned strongly against socialized medicine, which he feels is just around the corner, i.e. the current push for universal health care. One aspect of medicine that disappears with increased government tinkering is “the doctor patient relationship. That’s about dead in this country, and that to me is the most important thing in medicine.” The more the government gets involved, Paul explained, the farther we get away from that ideal.

Paul was also highly critical of current insurance schemes, claiming that the only things that should be insured are surgeries and other high cost possibilities. Instead of insurance for things like a check-up, Paul favored a medical savings account. “We should allow every individual to take a $3,000 tax credit, and they can put that away and use it to go and pay for their doctor visits.”

“We as a people have really lost confidence in freedom.” He noted that this misplaced confidence made no sense, sighting cell phones as an area where, because of freedom, costs have gone down, and availability has gone up. On the other side of the spectrum is the Katrina/Rita disaster—which was spearheaded by the government.

Perhaps surprisingly for a doctor, Paul encourages more competition in the field of medicine. Noting that many alternative methods of care have sprouted up in recent years, Paul said the competition would be in the best interest of the patients. The only thing he cautioned against was fraud, i.e. registered nurses putting M.D. behind their names. Once more coming back to his core principle Paul stated, “Politically, I believe in freedom of choice.” When Paul’s time at Dartmouth Medical School came to a close, the students responded by giving him a standing ovation. His message was simple: “Under the Constitution, government shouldn’t be in medicine.”