by Luna Flesher
If liberty is one of my chief values, and tyranny is its opposite, then tyranny is my adversary.
By liberty, I mean individual freedom from oppression by another; the ability to move about, act as I choose, and reap the consequences. In order to fairly protect liberty, freedom must be limited when it begins to infringe on the freedom of others. I was raised with the phrase, "Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."
To be clear, I do not mean freedom from want. Being handed unearned resources may increase choice, but this is not the kind of freedom a government can easily grant without violating the rights of someone else. Nor do I mean the freedom to escape rightful consequences, both positive and negative. You may act on your rights, but it is not freedom if you unfairly avoid what's coming to you. That usually indicates someone else's rights are being violated, someone else is being cheated.
Tyranny, the antithesis of liberty, can come from any source. Most libertarians and conservatives are rightfully wary of the tyranny of government. Typically only a government has police power, military might, power of imprisonment, and the backing of society.
However, tyranny can come from many other sources -- any individual or organization who wishes to impinge upon your rights. They do this through the use or threat of physical force, breaking of contracts, and gaining consent through misinformation. They avoid the negative consequences of harmful actions, reaping only rewards through unfair advantage, force, and fraud.
Besides governments, large-scale tyranny can come from corporations, outside governments, unions, organized religion, organized crime, academia, political groups, etc.
On a smaller social level, it can come from independent criminals, bullies, abusive families, cults, small businesses, private security organizations, friends and associates, or random people on the street.
We spend so much time thinking of government as the bad guy. However we forget that its most legitimate purpose is to protect individual liberties from other powers that would exert force or fraud. That's why we have allowed the government military and police power in the first place.
We need to look around and ask what other large-scale tyrannies exist in America today. A good measuring stick to judge this by is, "Does it initiate force or fraud?" Since it is the topic du jour, let's look at the health care industry. Here are three ways it has initiated both.
1. When you or your employer pays for health insurance, you have a contract with the insurance provider to cover certain costs if you become sick. Your contract is too probably long to read, too confusing for you to understand, and full of loopholes. This is a form of fraud or uninformed consent.
Even if your contact in fact covers your expensive illness, as soon as you are diagnosed the insurer is likely to drop your coverage. You will be stuck with prohibitive bills and likely bankruptcy.
You may think this is a rare occurrence, but it is not. The leading cause of bankruptcy is due to medical bills of people who were already covered by health insurance.
If it happens even once, it is the government's job to protect all individuals from fraud.
2. Various factors have driven up costs so that access to health care is barred to anyone except those with insurance or those who are very rich. It is no longer possible for a middle class person to save a percentage of their income and pay directly for health services.
Insurance has created a non-level playing field. It is a form of privatized socialism. Doctor's charges go up to subsidize insurance discounts. Hospital bills are increased to cover those without health insurance who show up on the hospital steps.
The least advantaged are the employed middle class without employer-provided insurance, small business owners, and the temporarily unemployed. The system basically forces you to choose between being insured or not having any health care. The latter choice leads to bodily harm or even death.
If you decide to buy insurance on your own, the costs are prohibitive. And if you have a "pre-existing condition" like a past treatment for a yeast infection or acne, you will be denied insurance.
It boils down to this: If you choose to run your own business or freelance, or if you choose a small employer which does not provide health care, or if you are involuntarily laid off, you risk bodily harm. Contrary to popular belief, "hard work" is not a factor for successful health in this system.
3. In most states, employees cannot choose their insurance provider. They cannot choose their coverage. In this sense, they are forced into a contract made between their employer and insurance company. This limits consumer choice when it comes to doctors, level of care, customer service, price, level of bureaucracy, and reputation. If my insurance drops my doctor from the network, I must find a new doctor. If my insurance company raises rates or lowers coverage, I can't walk away. I'm trapped.
There are numerous valid sources that show how insurance companies extort, defraud, cheat, and oppress. The evidence is overwhelming. There are examples of corruption at every level of the health care industry. The industry as a whole is the very socialist dictatorship we so fear.
The government seems to be the only entity powerful enough to reinstate the balance and protect the people. This is the proper role of government. Health care reform should be embraced by everyone who cares about individual liberty.
This is one time when it is proper to plea for government interference.