Free to Die?


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Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in his New York Times column titled “Free to Die” (9/15/2011), pointed out that back in 1980, his late fellow Nobel laureate Milton Friedman lent his voice to the nation’s shift to the political right in his famous 10-part TV series, “Free To Choose.” Nowadays, Krugman says, “‘free to choose’ has become ‘free to die.’” He was referring to a GOP presidential debate in which Rep. Ron Paul was asked what should be done if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchase health insurance found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Paul correctly, but politically incorrectly, replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer pressed his question further, asking whether “society should just let him die.” The crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”, which led Krugman to conclude that “American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.” Professor Krugman is absolutely right; our nation is faced with a conflict of moral visions. Let’s look at it.

If a person without health insurance finds himself in need of costly medical care, let’s investigate just how might that care be provided. There are not too many of us who’d suggest that we get the money from the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. That being the case, if a medically indigent person receives medical treatment, it must be provided by people. There are several possible methods to deliver the services. One way is for people to make voluntary contributions or for medical practitioners to simply treat medically indigent patients at no charge. I find both methods praiseworthy, laudable and, above all, moral.

Another way to provide those services is for Congress to use its power to forcibly use one person to serve the purposes of another. That is, under the pain of punishment, Congress could mandate that medical practitioners treat medically indigent patients at no charge.

I’d personally find such a method of providing medical services offensive and immoral, simply because I find the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another, what amounts to slavery, in violation of all that is decent.

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  • mrbean

    If you believe that what one person is either unwilling and/or incapable of providing for himself let it be food, clothing, shelter or medical care shall become the forced burden of another to provide for him, then you are immoral. The important issue the provider's choice to provide or not to provide as an act of charity or kindness. When the government steps in and provides food, clothing, shelter or medical care as an entitlement, then it creates an ever growing dependency class. It is as old as the Chinese Proverb byConfucious who said: "Give a man a fish for a day and he will return asking for more fish the next day, and again the day after, but, teach him to fish and he will provide his own fish for his lifetime."

  • WilliamJamesWard

    For those who care about their fellow man it is emotive to put the question before them concerning dire straits and where the heart is true self recrimination may over
    reach comon sense. To abandon the other is self abandonment where concern is
    found in the hypothetical. It takes a real circumstance to provoke people to action
    and I am unaware of any instance that given attention, people do commit to help even
    strangers as best as can be done. Do we all get the best possible long term care
    even if we have the funding, not hardly, it is usually the luck of the draw. The
    government does nothing out of charity, they do what they do out of their burden
    to control mercilessly and feel good about false bravado………..William

  • Ann

    to compel others to care for you, it is called slavery —

  • NotaBene

    If I come across a dying man in the desert and refuse to give him water – of which I have a plentiful supply – simply to punish him, and his children, for his foolishness in not having enough money to purchase water in the first place – I would be a murderer, and a man without a soul. And if that man has friends who surround me and force me to give up some of the water they need to save their friends life, they're committing a far lesser evil than i was.

    • mrbean

      What a set up, stacked and very poor argument that was. It is called the classical dying man or drowning man argument where you create a desperate situation to justify any and all immoral means to resolve it – and your solution is typical – It is the typical leftist solution though – which is if I can get enough people together I can do anything to the individual I want. Suppose when his friends surround you and you resist so they beat you so badly they kill you and take your water. Is that an active act of murder? Notice you dragged his children into the argument as well.