Roberta has a fine rant today about an article in the Christian Science Monitor by a professor of philosophy, titled 'The Real US Healthcare Issue: Compassion Deficiency'. I clicked over to read the article for myself, and found a number of issues that I thought might be worth addressing (over and above those that Roberta so splendidly demolishes).
First, let's define the operative words. Dictionary.com defines 'compassion' thus:
"a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering."
So far, so good. 'Deficiency' is defined as:
"the state of being deficient; lack; incompleteness; insufficiency."
Again, so far, so good. However, when we put these two together, the title of the article begs a number of questions, ones that illustrate the left-wing mind on this issue.
- Who decides whether our 'compassion' is adequate, or inadequate? On what grounds do they make that judgment call?
- Is 'compassion' to be evenly distributed across all the sick, regardless of the circumstances that made them that way? If someone has chosen to abuse drugs to such an extent that his health has broken down, is he worthy of the same 'compassion' as someone who's lived a healthy lifestyle, but been stricken with cancer? Who decides?
- What practical effect should our 'compassion' have on our approach to health care? If it's left to our individual conscience to decide whether and how much to contribute to others, I have no problem with that. If your compassion leads you to seek to confiscate my money (through taxation) to spend on others, I have a huge problem, right there! Who are you to dictate to me how I should respond in such situations?
- What about contentious health issues where moral decisions enter into the equation? One person may decide that abortion is a health matter, and should be funded by socialized medicine. Another may emphatically disagree, and regard the use of abortion in all but the gravest circumstances as being equivalent to murder. How is it morally permissible to force the second person to fund abortion when he/she can't morally agree with it? (The same can be said of other morally contentious treatments, of course, such as whether and how to treat certain illnesses, the issue of euthanasia and end-of-life care, etc.)
- Who decides what level(s) of care are commensurate with 'compassion'? Who decides whether Patient X should receive - or be denied - the liver transplant he needs to survive? Who decides whether Patient Y should receive - or be denied - a pacemaker to assist the heart he himself damaged through drug abuse? Those two cases had different outcomes, because the care decisions were different in each case. Is that difference morally justifiable? If so - who says so? Who makes that call? On what grounds? One person's moral foundations may differ greatly from another's. Whose perspective is to prevail in the decision-making process - and why?
Socialized medicine seeks to impose a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to health care. Despite all the protestations from politicians that we can keep the plans we like, and choose for ourselves, the plain and simple fact is that in every single nation where it's been implemented, sooner or later the socialized health system begins to make such decisions on behalf of the patients, without considering their own wishes. The system makes decisions in its own best interests. It has to do so in order to survive.
I, for one, am simply not prepared to allow a nameless, faceless bureaucracy to make such critically important decisions about my life. I'll make them for myself, thank you very much. If I can't afford the care the decision might require, I'll appeal to friends, or try to raise the money somehow - or do without, and take the consequences. However, I won't impose that need on others who have no say whatsoever in whether I deserve, or should receive, the care involved. Heck, if I can do that, why can't I impose my other 'needs' on them as well? I don't just need spinal surgery - I need (or, at least, I claim I need) a new vehicle, equipped with fancy gadgets to help me get around, and an electric scooter for mobility, and a month at the seaside to recuperate from the surgery . . . you get the idea? Who says where the payments stop? Who says where your liability for me ends?
Go read the original article, and Roberta's response (and the comments to her response - they're pretty good, too), and make up your own mind.