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L. Neil Smith's
Number 636, September 11, 2011

"Change is coming. Peace is coming."

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Lodge Practise
by Jim Davidson

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Robert Higgs wrote, a few minutes ago, a comment on a status update from my friend Shaun Lee.

"In U.S. history, many lodges and other fraternal groups hired a doctor for a fixed fee per month. When someone in the group became ill or was injured, the group's doctor attended to him at no additional charge. This system was known as "lodge practice" and was in widespread use. After the AMA was formed and became aggressive in the early twentieth century in taking measures to raise the earnings of doctors, the association fought tooth and nail against lodge practice and eventually killed it."

It is an area of history about which I knew very little. I think this lodge practise has a lot of potential merit. I'm thinking that SMART and IndSovU may want to re-start this practise.

After all, we're going to have campus locations. And, apparently, universities have clinics with doctors and nurses on staff.

Bill Clark supplied this impressive link.

""Lodge practice" refers to an arrangement, reminiscent of today's HMOs, whereby a particular society or lodge would contract with a doctor to provide medical care to its members. The doctor received a regular salary on a retainer basis, rather than charging per item; members would pay a yearly fee and then call on the doctor's services as needed. If medical services were found unsatisfactory, the doctor would be penalized, and the contract might not be renewed. Lodge members reportedly enjoyed the degree of customer control this system afforded them. And the tendency to overuse the physician's services was kept in check by the fraternal society's own "self-policing"; lodge members who wanted to avoid future increases in premiums were motivated to make sure that their fellow members were not abusing the system."

Mary Chamberlain in 2009 wrote: "In China over a hundred years ago one only paid the doctor when he was well; if you got sick you didn't pay because the doctor had not done his job which was to keep you healthy. The doctor then treated you... for free until you were well again. One would see the doctor on a regular basis for acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle guidance. This was the ultimate model for preventative medicine—I wonder how it would work today." Her link also includes advice about covering the back of the neck. Source

Here is another resource on the topic: "The sages of antiquity did not treat those who were already sick, but those who were not sick... When a disease has already broken out and is only then treated, would that not be just as late as to wait for thirst before digging a well, or to wait to go into battle before casting weapons?" (Nei Jing)

"These words, from a classic Chinese Medical text written 4601 years ago, express the primary importance of Preventive Medicine. They are proof positive that Chinese Medicine has long valued Preventive Medicine above emergency disease intervention."

"Historically in China, each village was under the care of one doctor. In return, they took care of him (fed him, clothed him, etc.). What's so different about this from the exchange that goes on in modern healthcare? The traditional Chinese doctor's job was to keep the village from getting sick in the first place. Once people got sick, they were unable to support the doctor. It made more sense for him to keep them well than to wait until they were sick."

And here is that resource:

My friend Bill Clark wrote:

This is where I first learned about lodge practice:

I should note that universities and colleges often have a clinic on campus. The doctors and nurses there operate, in effect, as a lodge practice for the students and faculty on campus. So, the model remains effective.

We may be in a good position to re-establish lodge practise in the USA as Individual Sovereign University.

Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, and anti-war activist. His 1990 venture to offer a sweepstakes trip into space was destroyed by government action as was his free port and prospective space port in Somalia in 2001. His 2002-2007 venture in free market money and private stock exchange was destroyed by government action in 2007. He's going to Mars if he has to walk. His second book, Being Sovereign is now availble from Lulu and Amazon. He is currently working on a book about travel to Mars with John Wayne Smith, a book with international fugitive Chad Z. Hower on his story, a book on sovereign self-defence, and a book compiling his letters and essays in The Libertarian Enterprise from 1995 to 2010. Contact him at or Come visit IndSovU teams at gatherings in September 2011 in Montana, December 2011 in Florida, and March 2012 in Austin, Texas. Or join State Busters.

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