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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