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How would an Objectivist counter the the argument that the government runs the Postal Service just fine, so therefore they'll run Health Care the same way ?

asked Oct 01 '13 at 23:11

smjblessing's gravatar image


edited Oct 02 '13 at 15:45

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The federal government does not run the postal service "just fine" at all. In fact, UPS and FedEx work much better than the USPS. The USPS recently faced--and is still facing--major financial setbacks and layoffs because they are poorly mismanaged. The sad part is that they won't go out of business because of those reasons.

(Oct 02 '13 at 17:29) Collin1 Collin1's gravatar image

That should be a warning not an argument in favour of government controls.

At best, government run Health Care will be Post-Office standard as compared to private Health Care which would be FedEx standard. Do people want their doctors to display the same qualities and enthusiasm as their postal workers?

Only Health Care is much more important than sending a letter.

(Oct 03 '13 at 17:32) bones001 bones001's gravatar image

By the nature of man and existence, Objectivism holds that everyone has a right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. Objectivism holds that this principle applies to doctors and other healthcare providers just as fully as it does to everyone else. Since healthcare is man-made -- a product of human intelligence and initiative -- the first right of ownership of healthcare services rests with those who bring healthcare into the world and make it available to others through voluntary trading.

The analogy to postal services completely obfuscates these principles and diverts attention away from them, depicting healthcare, in effect, as something that merely "is," somehow, with no thought of what makes it possible, what it fundamentally depends on. The "power to establish post offices and post roads" was also written into the U.S. Constitution (Article I Section 8) from the start of our country, while providing healthcare thankfully was not. The fundamental issue isn't a disagreement over how "well run" an enterprise might be, but over whether or not government should be involved in enterprises like healthcare or postal services at all. (Objectivism regards both areas as outside the scope of the proper functions of government.)

If one seeks a further discussion of the philosophical issues surrounding individual rights, including property rights, there is ample material in the literature of Objectivism. If one seeks a further discussion of how those issues and principles apply to healthcare specifically, there are three main references that I can cite:

  • Atlas Shrugged (1957), brief statement by Dr. Hendricks on why he quit the medical profession and joined the strikers. His statement is excerpted in FNI under the title, "The Forgotten Man of Socialized Medicine." The statement calls attention to the ways in which government run healthcare destroys it by relentlessly stifling the providers.

  • VOR, Chapter 29, "How Not to Fight Against Socialized Medicine" (1963), originally from a talk given to a gathering of physicians in New Jersey on the importance of naming philosophical fundamentals in forestalling the rise of government run healthcare, and not conceding them.

  • VOR, Chapter 30, "Medicine: The Death of a Profession" (1985), descibing in detail all the ways in which the Medicare program has undermined the quality and availability of healthcare in the U.S., and dramatically raised the cost of healthcare for everyone. Today, of course, rising costs are exactly the excuse which altruistic politicians needed to justify our current president's major expansions of government control over all phases of healthcare, allegedly to control costs while making healthcare "affordable" for all (as if government can somehow overrule basic principles of economics regarding supply and demand). The VOR article (Chap. 30) provides abundant details of how the process has worked itself out in the case of Medicare.

As for those who might still cling to the post office analogy, an Objectivist will need to assess whether or not such arguers are open to considering the deeper issues, or whether they are already committed irrevocably to a mystic-altruist-collectivist perspective and are merely using the post office analogy as a convenient concrete-bound diversion.

answered Oct 04 '13 at 01:15

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Oct 01 '13 at 23:11

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Last updated: Oct 04 '13 at 01:15