Healthcare Con

The following letter appeared in this morning’s Opelika-Auburn News:

To the editor:

To understand the current debate over healthcare, one needs to see past the rhetoric of both parties and look at the policies they actually enact.

Republicans promise to protect us against big government, while Democrats promise to protect us against big business.

"Hey there, corporate parasite" - "Hey there, socialist oppressor"

But in practice, both parties consistently support a partnership between big government and big business, at the expense of ordinary people. They bicker over which partner is to be dominant; but neither party ever seriously threatens the overall partnership.

The healthcare bill is a case in point.

Democrats have portrayed it as an assault on the power of insurance companies – as if those companies won’t benefit enormously from a provision requiring everyone to buy health insurance (with or without the public option).

The Republicans, for their part, portray their defense of the status quo as a defense of the free market. But the status quo in healthcare is no free market; it’s a system of massive, ongoing government intervention on behalf of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the medical establishment.

Democrats and Republicans disagree only over the precise flavor of intervention, not the amount. The question is always whether decisions about your healthcare should be made by bureaucrats, or instead by plutocrats – never by you.

A century ago, a vibrant system of health cooperatives, run not by bureaucrats or plutocrats but by the working class, was dramatically reducing healthcare prices and boosting patient autonomy – until government regulation shut the system down. (University of Alabama history professor David Beito documents the story in his book From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State.)

If Republicans really care about free markets, and if Democrats really care about the poor, why doesn’t either party work to repeal those laws and allow the cooperative system to return?

Roderick T. Long

Further reading: See my How Government Solved the Healthcare Crisis, Poison As Food, Poison As Antidote, and Remembering Corporate Liberalism; Kevin Carson’s Meet the New Healthcare Boss and Honest Statism Beats a Fake Free Market; and Gary Chartier’s State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree and Wherein They Differ Regarding Healthcare Reform.

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7 Responses to Healthcare Con

  1. Ryan December 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    Well said, Dr. Long. What is always astounding is that – everybody – knows, but they so quickly forget.

  2. Mike Gogulski December 18, 2009 at 8:57 pm #

    Bravo, and kudos for this. Getting that kind of message into the dead-tree press cheers me greatly.

  3. Nick December 18, 2009 at 9:11 pm #


    I’ve lost track of how many times in the past year I have forwarded the 15 year old article you wrote on voluntary mutual-aid associations. But it’s a large number. Right up there with Glen Allport’s, Ringo’s Law and the Healthcare System of Doom.

    For fun: Here’s a 1910 NY Times editorial attacking lodge practice as “evil”, “hampering medical progress” and of “depriving a large number of worthy and capable practitioners of the fruits of dilligence”.

  4. Joel December 19, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    Eh gad, mfyuvdep, what inflammatory gibberish.

  5. Dr. Q December 20, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    Great work, Roderick. Glad to see that your point of view was actually recognized.

  6. MBrown December 21, 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    Well said.


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