The Libertarian Party and Healthcare, Part 2: Covid
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it provided a tremendous opportunity for the Libertarian Party to make a major step in restoring the Libertarian brand, at least with respect to healthcare. Alas, that opportunity has still not been seized, although given the continuing nature of the virus, it is not too late to do so.
As I stated in my Substack article “The Libertarian Party and Healthcare, Part 1: Medicare,” the genuine Libertarian position on healthcare is a total separation of healthcare and the state. The government, both at the federal level and the state level, has no more business involving itself in healthcare than it does in religion or education.
As I pointed out in Part 1, America once had the finest healthcare system in history. And then came Medicare, a welfare-state healthcare program whose concept had originated among socialists in Germany and then imported into the United States by American progressives. It ended up destroying that finest healthcare system in history with a perpetual healthcare crisis, ever-soaring healthcare costs, and doctors retiring as soon as they can.
Throughout this socialist experiment, Americans remained convinced that reform could fix the problem. That’s what Obamacare was all about. Instead, it just made the problem worse, causing Democrats to advocate a full-fledged socialist healthcare system, just like in Cuba, whose healthcare system many Democrats hold up as a model for the world.
Unfortunately, many Libertarians have not been immune to the Siren’s Song of reform. Rather than call for repeal of Medicare, which is the root cause of America’s healthcare crisis, reform-oriented Libertarians, “pragmatist” Libertarians, and Republican-Lite Libertarians have settled for healthcare reform in the form of “health-savings accounts,” which, of course, leaves Medicare intact.
Thus, since 1965, when Medicare was adopted, America’s healthcare crisis has revolved around healthcare socialism. But then Covid hit and suddenly Americans witnessed another big part of governmental involvement in healthcare — healthcare interventionism. That’s when such things as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAID), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and NAID head Dr. Anthony Fauci became a major part of American life.
The severe adverse consequences arising from healthcare interventionism to cope with Covid caused the Medicare crisis to recede into the background, but it has never gone away. America’s ongoing, never-ending socialist healthcare crisis remains with us and is only getting worse.
Some Libertarians have focused their efforts by mainly focusing on NAID
head Fauci, who also served as Chief Medical Advisor to the President, and by opposing the mandates and the lockdowns. Unfortunately, in the process, they rarely, if ever, used the crisis as a way to raise people’s vision to what the genuine Libertarian position is on healthcare — the separation of healthcare and the state — that is, the end of all governmental involvement in healthcare.
In other words, there is a world of difference between decrying Fauci’s healthcare mismanagement and bad recommendations and decisions and calling for the end of all governmental involvement in healthcare. Spending all of one’s time decrying, “Fauci! Fauci! Fauci” implied that that the solution was to replace Fauci with someone who could better manage the Covid crisis — such as a libertarian-leaning conservative, who could be expected to bring a “free-market” approach to the Covid crisis. Calling for better management of healthcare interventionism is obviously a far cry from calling for the termination of all federal (and state) involvement in healthcare.
A similar reform-oriented phenomenon took place some years ago with respect to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A libertarian-leaning conservative named Ajit Pai was appointed to head the commission. The reform-oriented segment of the libertarian movement was ecstatic because Pai, who they praised and glorified, was bringing a “free-market” approach to the regulatory process. Never mind that the genuine libertarian position is to abolish the FCC, not reform it by appointing libertarian-leaning conservatives (or even libertarians) to run it.
There is another important point to note about the Covid crisis — the issue of mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and lockdowns.
Many Libertarians oppose not just the mandates but also the masks and the vaccines. They say that masks are useless to prevent Covid and are actually bring adverse health consequences. They also hold that vaccines are highly dangerous and can also bring severe adverse health consequences to people.
But there is something important to note about this: As a philosophy, libertarianism is not anti-mask or anti-vaccine any more than it is pro-mask and pro-vaccine. Libertarianism is pro-freedom. One problem with associating libertarianism with either the pro-mask/pro-vaccine position or the anti-mask/anti-vaccine position is that it contributes the destruction of the Libertarian brand, which is simply pro-liberty.
In other words, in a society based on genuine healthcare liberty (that is, the separation of healthcare and the state), people would be free to make their own decisions with respect to masks and vaccines. People would be doing their own research as to which way to go. Some people would look to the mainstream healthcare industry for guidance. Others would be looking at alternative healthcare providers for guidance. No one would be looking to the government for guidance because the government wouldn’t have anything to do with healthcare.
Some people would decide that masks were important and useful. Some people would also get vaccinated. Others would reject masks and vaccinations. What’s important is that everyone would be free to make these choices on his own.
The political risk that Libertarians run in advertising their own personal decisions with respect to masks and vaccines is that they automatically alienate people who choose differently. What matters is not the personal decisions that one makes but rather that we Libertarians simply make the case for genuine healthcare liberty, one that separates healthcare and the state.
In a society based on healthcare liberty, businesses would have been free to establish their own Covid policies. Some restaurants, for example, might establish a mandatory mask policy. Others might establish a no-mask requirement. Some businesses might establish a mandatory vaccine requirement for their employees. Others might do the opposite. As private entities, businesses have the right to run their business any way they want.
By the same token, employees have the right to quit and go elsewhere, and consumers have the right to boycott businesses if they don’t like their policies. Businesses might have to adjust their policies if they want to stay in business. That’s the way healthcare freedom would operate. Healthcare freedom is a far better way to handle healthcare matters than with mandatory lockdowns that throw businesses into bankruptcy and send the economy into a tailspin.
In the political arena, the Libertarian Party is the only political party that has the potential of leading America out of the healthcare morass into which both Republicans and Democrats have plunged our nation. But it requires us Libertarians to refrain from going down the road of healthcare reform and instead raising people’s vision to a higher level — to one of genuine healthcare liberty — the separation of healthcare and the state.
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