Be Careful What We Wish for… or Simply Permit

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Martin Niemöller regarding the Nazi purging of their many “targets”

Ordinarily, my Blog addresses medical issues. Today’s message is a hybrid; it deals with medicine, but also social matters. Specifically today’s focus is on the political and socioeconomic shifts already suffocating segments of our nation. I will not belabor the transition that medicine has already made. Medicare is by definition a socialist system. Make no mistake; our government dictates doctors’ and hospitals’ fees and annually ratchets them downward. The lay public typically ignores this fact because it does not impact them (at least not monetarily). People pay a lot for health insurance and have been led to believe they are entitled to free care. Unfortunately in order to provide such care, health care workers – doctors, hospitals, imaging centers…- have been dissected from our nation’s free market economy and forced to live in quite a different world. Doctors’ fees are not dictated by their skill or experience. Every doctor is considered the same, regardless of his or her expertise, additional training, better bedside manner, or even an indisputably greater skill-set. This construct contradicts our nation’s economic foundation. Hard work, dedication, and superior skill used to translate into the opportunity for economic success. That is no longer the case in medicine. Yet, no one outside of medicine blocked this theft of financial liberty because it was not in their immediate interest to fight that battle.  And Medicine represents 16% of our GNP!  So what kind of Nation do we live in? Is America still a Democracy?

Now our President’s Affordable Care Act is becoming a reality. I just received a letter from my health insurance company explaining why they are refunding me money from the premiums we have already paid. At first blush I was elated – after all, who wouldn’t want extra money. Then I considered the reason for the rebate. The Affordable Care Act instituted an 80/20 rule, demanding that only 20% of patients’ premiums be used for administrative purposes by health insurance companies. In other words, these companies have now entered my realm; the government is dictating what they can or cannot earn. Although I am no fan of the health insurance world, I see the signs that Niemöller spoke of. This is another group no one will fight for, and so they will lose. The banks are sure to be next; they have few friends so no one will stand by their side, as their businesses become government managed. Who will follow? Small businesses; the food industry; hotels; restaurants; the local ice cream store; your own or your child’s business???

The solution is simple. If we want to preserve a free-market economy; and a democratic society; if we want to continue to acknowledge that dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, drive, high aspirations, hope and good old fashioned hard work should be able to translate into financial success, then we must stand by even those people and businesses we dislike in order to protect them from losing their freedom. We need to understand that the more people, groups, and businesses lose their economic freedom, the more likely each of us will be to follow in their footsteps. Niemöller was right about the Nazis. Let’s appreciate his wisdom and heed his advice.

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One Comment

  1. sweet j July 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    It’s a good post.

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