Privatizing Healthcare is like Privatizing Police Protection

Privatizing Healthcare is like Privatizing Police Protection July 21, 2017

Randal Rauser Healthcare Purge quote

I thought that this quote from Randal Rauser deserved to be turned into a meme. He writes:

Imagine a world in which all citizens were not extended protection by the police. Instead, the government aimed to offer people various tax credits and incentives to buy police protection from private security firms. And as a result, some people were protected by powerful armed militias, others had spotty protection from ill-equipped security guards, and still others were left to fend for themselves as in The Purge.

Crazy, right?

That’s how the Republican free market approach to healthcare looks to a Canadian like me.

I have the advantage of having lived outside of the United States for many years, and so having a bit more critical distance from my own American context than someone who has never lived abroad. But I wonder whether most Americans can nonetheless appreciate the analogy Rauser makes. While one often hears heated invective from Republicans about the evils of socialism and the positive aspects of the free market, few would want to see everyone having to purchase for themselves the best protection against fires or crime that they can privately afford. For that matter, we don’t think that everyone should have to sort out their own access to water, sewage, and trash removal. The attempt to approach healthcare (and to some extent education) in that way reflects an inconsistency that deserves to be noticed and challenged, and I appreciated the way Rauser did that.

I already had this post written when a Facebook friend wrote the following yesterday, making a related point:

If you call the fire department when your house catches fire you don’t get a bill after they extinguish it. When the police show up to arrest a home burglar they don’t leave you with an invoice. So why do you have to pay when you go to the emergency room? Why does it cost thousands of dollars for a hospital stay?

I was sorry that the SyFy TV series Incorporated was cancelled after its first season. It offered a compelling vision of a future in which government has failed and corporations have stepped in to provide services for those who can afford them – and keep those who cannot at bay beyond the walls of the green zone. In one episode, a fire cannot be put out because the owner of the store is behind on paying his bills to the local service provider. The one season that was made is worth watching – you can stream it from Amazon, or get it on DVD.

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  • Iain Lovejoy

    Healthcare is different because rich people can obtain it cheaper through private insurance than taxes. And who cares about anyone else?

    • jh

      I also believe there is a strain of racism that prevents universal healthcare from being implemented in the US. Social Security was great… until blacks were eligible. Now, all you hear is that we need to cut Social Security and that it is a drain. Same for Medicare and Medicaid. The white conservative doesn’t appreciate universal healthcare because he’s more frightened that an undeserving black will have the same access.

      “Most women and minorities were excluded from the benefits of unemployment insurance and old age pensions.[9] Job categories that were not covered by the act included workers in agricultural labor, domestic service, government employees, and many teachers, nurses, hospital employees, librarians, and social workers.[10] The act also denied coverage to individuals who worked intermittently.[11] These jobs were dominated by women and minorities. For example, women made up 90 percent of domestic labor in 1940 and two-thirds of all employed black women were in domestic service.[12] Exclusions exempted nearly half of the working population.[11] Nearly two-thirds of all African Americans in the labor force, 70 to 80 percent in some areas in the South, and just over half of all women employed were not covered by Social Security.[13][14] At the time, the NAACP protested the Social Security Act, describing it as “a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through.”[14]

      This is from wikipedia. But you will note that who was not covered is targeted towards specific non-white, non-male demographics. Social Security was for white men.

      I think that’s why the War on Drugs continues failing for the nth year. Unlike Prohibition that impacted both blacks and whites, the war on drugs is capable of selecting specific targets (minorities) rather than inconveniencing white men.

      • Iain Lovejoy

        I’m British, so I have something of an outsider’s perspective here, and the UK’s race problems are to an extent different. There may be some out-and-out racism going on, but what you have also I suspect us the “me and my buddies” problem: if a thing is perceived as not going to primarily assist “me and my buddies” or carbon copies of them, it is seen as an act by hostile “others” trying to somehow do “me and my buddies” over.

        • jh

          we have a term called “welfare queen”. If you asked any american to describe the “welfare queen”, she would be a black women with numerous progeny (none by the same father) who drives a Cadillac. Or, the infamous Willie Horton ad. It feeds into the cultural mindset created by whites to reinforce white superiority.

          Again – in Great Britain, it’s a little different. Part of this may be the simple fact that you didn’t really need excess labour and thus didn’t need slaves. You guys used a more roman model of governance with a hefty “British stick” to back it up.

          Sometimes, the darkest parts of me think that Americans will never overcome their white superiority complex and racism. It feels too ingrained into our culture. For example –
          “”I mean, you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a story-book, man,”

          I’m pretty sure there were a few articulate and bright and clean and nice looking black men and women before Barack Obama. Why did this even have to be mentioned?

          Until whites stop pretending that every culture is like theirs and stop thinking that the victims want to “punish” their oppressors, I don’t think anything will change.

  • Bad analogies are like Satan. Two thirds of health care expenditures were out of pocket in the 1940s. America needs to go back to that.

    • Guthrum

      This is interesting – I can get my prescription medicine cheaper by not getting it through my health plan. $5 co-pay for three months if I pay cash. $12 if it goes through insurance.

  • Oliver Stegen

    Interestingly enough, a friend of mine claims that police protection *is* actually already privatized in the US. Or rather, some people get full protection whereas others are “left to fend for themselves” …