A large Detroit radio station this past Sunday interviewed as part of its weekly health care program a physician who spoke extensively about the wellness visits for seniors that are part of the new Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare." The program encourages Medicare recipients 65 and older to sit down once a year with their primary health care physicians to discuss their general health concerns and, especially, end-of-life decisions.
What struck this teacher and student of economics was the good doctor's repeated and emphasized references to the program as being "free," and to the idea that the program would be "paid for by the government." At one point, the physician referred to primary care physicians as being "forced" by the government to provide the annual service. Nearly everything about the interview troubled me deeply.
Firstly, nothing is free as Nobel laureate Milton Friedman taught us, "There is no free lunch." The enormous costs of this benefit, as laudable and perhaps necessary as it is, will be borne by taxpayers. Secondly, the government does not pay for anything, because it has no money of its own. It finances goods and services by extracting money from the pockets of productive Americans the "makers" of America's economy. What the government cannot obtain through taxation it gets by borrowing, the price costs of which are deferred to future generations at interest-compounded rates.
Thirdly, and most critically, Americans should tremble at the idea of government forcing physicians to provide services, forcing businesses to ensure their full-time employees, or forcing citizens to purchase insurance (or, for that matter, forcing citizens to choose what size soft drinks they will purchase).
The late author and philosopher Ayn Rand, in her novels "We, the Living," "The Fountainhead," and "Atlas Shrugged," and in her essays on capitalism and its antithesis, socialism, warned us that government coercion in the name of the people would be the undoing of our liberty and the destruction of our republic. If you have not read these, please do not delay to do so. And, for the sake of our children, think carefully before you vote for the next president of the United States.
Henry B. Stobbs,