Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 409, March 11, 2007

"She's real fine my 409!"


A Tragic Death—of Responsibility
by Chris Claypoole

Credit The Libertarian Enterprirse

About two weeks ago, in, someone wrote:

    This story is being passed off as a triumph of the Free Market by socialists. "Youth dies of toothache" How would a truly free market have prevented his death or did such a concept ever exist in practice?

This is an expansion on how I answered at the time.

I'm 55 years old. I remember the time before Medicare/Medicaid, HMOs, PPOs, etc. Doctors, dentists and even hospitals charged a lot less then (in constant terms) because there was generally not much third-party money being thrown around. Any time you have "C" spending money taken from "A" to benefit "B" there are no controls, no feedback, and usually no effectiveness, much less efficiency. (Again, I refer people who would want more information on this topic to "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek.) People often worked out time-payments for their medical bills. People also took better care of themselves, because there was no government-funded safety net. People knew they were responsible for their own health, as well as other aspects of their lives. These kids had "rotted teeth!" Do they brush their teeth at all? Practice any oral hygiene? What kind of care-giver would allow that to happen? The answer is the government bureaucracy and politicians who supposedly care so much for "the children."

A free market would cost far, far less for medical/dental care than the paperwork-buried mess we have now. People are far more selective and careful when spending their own money than the third-party spender. Look at the stories you see every so often about egregious and inflated charges on hospital bills: fifty dollars for an aspirin, etc. There doesn't need to be a conspiracy between the hospital and the HMO (or whatever) to get these ridiculous bills; you only need the lack of personal responsibility. I also doubt that the malpractice problems would be anywhere near as bad (they weren't when I was growing up). People would be more self-sufficient, or at least less inclined to child-like dependence.

And what fosters this retreat from responsibility? Government! The politicians tell the voters that their public servants (that's another whole rant!), who care about someone else's money, children, or whatever, more than the supposed recipient of this tax largesse (read: stolen goods), will help them find a job, a house, educate their children, have a retirement income for them, and provide medical care. And deliver the mail. Well, we can judge for ourselves how effective (not even going to talk about efficiency due to space limitations) the following have been: Job Corps (and the like), public housing, state-run schools, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid (and all the medical-payment organizations that are the results of years of laws passed mainly to "do something"). And the US Postal Service.

I live near, and work in, Prince George's County, MD, where this took place. I saw a video of this family on the news tonight. PG County is dysfunctional: the government is a corrupt, incompetent joke (I have to deal with various segments of it in my job), the schools are not quite as bad as Baltimore City's or Washington DC's (which are among the worst in the country), and the police are widely-known for their brutality. PG County has as many car-jackings in a year as the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. That MAY have something to do with the fact that Marylanders have been forcibly disarmed for decades, and Virginians can carry. It also says something about the lack of respect too many of the locals have for concepts like private property and the lives of others. IMO, this is a lesson learned from government. If government can blithely walk all over the property rights of its citizens, have its police brutalize them and its courts ignore them, many people will take this as a roadmap to success. When was the last time you saw a politician in a cheap suit?

What else could one expect when the government makes children of its citizens other than immature decisions? What else could one expect when the government places the burdens of excessive paperwork and insufficient compensation on medical professionals, than refusal to take that business? In plain, painfully blunt language, why would anyone expect people who are treated as slaves (or at least, serfs) by their rulers to act like an independent, free person? And who would expect them to like it? I admit that most people will go along with all of this, because most of them have been well-indoctrinated by the government schools, which also tend to suppress the ability to think logically and independently, and because America is pretty well off economically (no pain, no revolt). But I hear people griping about the various petty (and sometime awful) depredations of government virtually every day. But Americans as a rule are complacent about such things until they are affected personally.

This entire incident can more properly be laid at the feet of the morass of governmental regulations: overly expensive medical care, broken families (no welfare if a man is around), fewer medical professionals willing to put up with the BS of more work for less pay, people who feel "entitled" to be taken care of by the government in every aspect of their lives, and so on. But the fools in the Main Stream Media have no clue, or would drop it like a live hand grenade if they got one, for fear of losing their gravy train and the approval of their colleagues. Stories like this one are sensational, partly because they are "man bites dog," and partly because it lets the MSM hop onto its soap box to shill for more government spending (read: throwing more cash down the same rat hole).

There is nothing that anyone can do to make an irresponsible person take responsibility for their lives; that decision and willpower must come from within. And with the government (and MSM) acting as co-dependents, it's unlikely to happen for most of those caught in circumstances like this.


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