JONATHAN CHAIT MAY 12, 2011
When the devoted follower of crackpot cult leader Ayn Rand gets elected to the Senate, you wind up having Congressional hearings filled up with feverish reasoning like this:
With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses.
Basically, once you imply a belief in a right to someone’s services — do you have a right to plumbing? Do you have a right to water? Do you have right to food? — you’re basically saying you believe in slavery.
I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.
Except, of course, we already have a system that establishes the right to health care for elderly Americans. We do not seem to have many instances of police abductions of medical personnel and their support staff compelling medical procedures performed at gunpoint. Nor does every other advanced country, all of which treat medical care as a basic right.
Rand's example doesn't even make sense conceptually. To say that citizens have a right to health care is not to say they have a right to decide that a particular person must furnish them with medical services. The government offers medical providers compensation, and the doctors choose to perform the service for the offered fee, or not. If they choose not, they can sell their services to patients on the open market.
I know I harp on Rand a lot, but I can't get over the outsized influence over public life commanded by an utter nutball. If we had prominent members of Congress running around citing the theories of Lyndon LaRouche, people would freak out. That's the situation we're in.