Now that a “Biden”-Harris administration looks inevitable, we can rest assured that a new fight for socialized medicine will heat up again under whatever initially anodyne label gets used this time (likely it will be “single payer,” at least at first). With the experience of 2020 behind us, it should be clearer than ever that pretty much everything the left does is, at some vital level, about hoovering up for itself more power over the lives of the rest of us, whatever the effects on us minions. And socialized medicine would give the left standing to intrude into almost every facet of our lives.
George Orwell famously described Ingsoc – the English Socialist hellscape that he envisioned in that rat-infested <shudder> masterpiece 1984 – as “a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” Aldous Huxley, no less concerned but – by some lights, anyway – a bit less grim, imagined a Brave New World in which the regimentation and destruction of self that socialism requires would be achieved by narcotics and other “innocuous” means. Given our recent experiences, we can be sure that socialized medicine would contain quite a significant helping of each.
Consider how “public health” progressed in the emergency of 2020. Officials constantly changed their recommendations and their demands not in response to “science,” but to further political goals and in reaction to what they asserted (without evidence, of course, but since they were opposing Trump, the sneer was not employed) to be our vast collective stupidity. Pharmaceutical companies (thanks, Pfizer!) delayed rolling out vaccines to achieve base political ends. Politicians issued punitive decrees that they knew were medically irrelevant, without regard to the effects of their dictates on the physical or emotional health of those affected, without any concern for their ruinous effect on the economy, and without the slightest intention of following those decrees themselves.
This was all very bad indeed, but perhaps most appalling, or at least most damaging for any lingering respect one might have for the broad run of one’s fellows, was the furious glee with which normal men and women – even some neighbors and perhaps some former friends – became handmaidens (and hand eunuchs) of the lockdown state, screeching at the rest of us to “stay home!” – sometimes with an added pinch of vulgarity, to demonstrate that their intrusion into our lives was so vital that normal decorum must be sacrificed. These miseries’ demands could change instantly, as conformance with high-left current opinion demanded; the important thing was never anyone’s real health prospects (which would have considered study and reflection), but their opportunity to exert their control over us, according to whatever precepts at that moment most enhanced their opportunities to hector, and to compel.
(These miseries are usually called Karens, but I think it’s a shame that a woman’s name was picked as the label. Especially in these days when traditional manliness is excoriated as “toxicity,” the noble – and broadly, though certainly not exclusively, male – virtues of keeping to oneself, minding one’s own damned business and taking care of oneself and one’s own while letting others be are sorely missed among the ranks of nominal men as well. Had anyone asked me at the time of naming, I would surely have offered Pat or Kris or maybe Logan as most appropriately representative of the relevant demographic. Or maybe just Squuuuaaaaaaack.)
Socialized medicine would extend the reign of the Karens indefinitely, and render it much more exultantly invasive and insistent. When government pays for something, the price of that thing skyrockets. Just look at education at all levels, or at defense-procurement costs, or at pension costs in our worst-governed states. Competition constrains prices; government payment accelerates them. The result is that socialized medicine leads to rationing, everywhere and always. (Ask a Canadian what is the waiting time for a hip replacement, or a Briton about the availability of technologies considered basic here.) And once there is rationing, every dollar that’s spent on your health is a dollar not being spent on Karen and Karen’s family’s health. This will be Karen’s (all of them, and the Pats’ and the Krises’) justification for hectoring you – and seeking legislation to constrain you – about and in every facet of your life. It will be Karen locking you in your house forever, while crowing that she’s acting in everyone’s best interest.
The list of things that Karen will attempt to ban or to constrain will be as endless as her desire to run other people’s lives. It will – 2020 has proven this – not be tutored by science, but only by her imagination. Anything that she personally dislikes will become an unacceptably risky and expensive behavior. (And look out, Millennials: you stand on the cusp of legal weed, nationwide. But what persistence and the limits of hypocrisy giveth, Karen taketh away. Just give her the chance – which will arrive in the shift from assertions that smoking weed is inherently wrong, which just won’t wash anymore, to assertions that smoking weed is just too dangerous, and therefore too expensive. You think you’re immune to the forces you’re so eager to unleash. You aren’t, as those of us who know some real history have been warning you all along.)
Proper right-of-center medical-industry funding reforms will have to be a discussion for another column. For now, an opening gambit: Nothing can be solved until employers stop paying for health insurance. It doesn’t make any economic sense, and it stops dead any hope of a functioning healthcare market. Anyone not willing to embrace this fundamental fact has de facto voted in favor of the socialist model. But in anticipation of the chorus of objections this assertion alone will raise, I’ll save any further reflections for later.