Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Libertarianism: The Healthy Choice for Single Hispanic Mothers

In response to my recent post on Milton Friedman, Miss S. asked about how someone like him would have dealt with the issue of health care. One of the things I so admire about Milton Friedman was that, unlike what you might think, he was motivated to advocate for libertarian positions in large part precisely because he cared so much about the poor and minorities, people without access to the establishment. Friedman was the son of working-class Jewish immigrants so this was something very personal for him. Friedman was a far greater thinker than I, but I think he would have approved of my sentiments regarding health care and how I would solve our health care crisis.

I have a younger brother, Mortimer Elliot, who is about to go into medical school. Unlike me, he is going to be the doctor who actually makes money. On this path though, he will spend years working miserable hours and contracting hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. What if Mortimer decided to skip medical school and set up shop as a non-licensed physician? Mortimer was a pre-med student in college and has worked as an intern in hospitals and even at the National Institute of Health. Without a doubt, he can handle basic issues of medical care. We are not talking about him performing brain surgery anytime soon. What we are talking about is him being able to give people basic checkups, figure out what is hurting them and advise his patients as to how to best pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Since Mortimer would be competing against doctors who have gone through medical school and have state-issued licenses he would have to charge less for his services and maybe even be willing to go to places that established physicians might shy away from; maybe a place like Washington Heights. In Washington Heights, you will find many poor Hispanic single mothers trying to make ends meet while raising their children. When faced with a child complaining of stomach pain or of a fever it would be very helpful to, instead of going to the emergency room or messing around with health insurance which they may or may not have, be able to go to Mortimer for help. For a very reasonable fee, say $10-$50 depending on the situation, Mortimer will be able to do so. The fact that Mortimer is cheaper and more accessible than established doctors means that people will come to him sooner with problems. This has the benefit of allowing him to catch and help prevent more serious issues.

Fraud will still be illegal even under a libertarian government so Mortimer will not be allowed to represent himself as anything besides someone with an undergraduate medical education. If he does he will go to jail. Since a libertarian government will be freeing all those sitting in jail on drug charges, many of whom just might be the fathers of some of the children in question, there will be plenty of resources to devote to going after those who commit fraud and we will have the jail space to keep such people behind bars for years to come.

Allowing poor Hispanic single mothers to have easier access to basic medical care and Mortimer to make an honest living sounds like an obviously good thing. The only problem with this idea is that right now one would run into some serious legal issues. So you have to ask yourself, who benefits from banning something that would benefit so many people. It is our medical establishment, full of wealthy white males, who benefit; they receive a monopoly on health care and can, therefore, charge inflated prices and offer inferior services. So being a libertarian means helping poor Hispanic single mothers to get better access to health care. Not being a libertarian means helping wealthy white doctors line their pockets at the expense of the health of the less fortunate. If being a liberal means supporting the poor and disadvantaged than the only option for a liberal of conscious is libertarianism.

For those interested, there are more clips available of Milton Friedman from other interviews and his show Free to Choose.


MR said...

Why Mortimer?

Why not a licensed doctor off the boat from India?

I could have a personal doctor, Philipino nurses, and Chinese boat people doing my laundry.

Would Friedman approve?

Izgad said...

You are correct. I do not know what Friedman himself held, but libertarians tend to be against any restrictions on immigration. Friedman himself was an enemy of tariffs; immigrants are simply human goods. Open immigration is good because it helps free markets. If my white Harvard educated doctor is charging me too much and giving me lousy service than I should be able to use the services of an immigrant doctor from India. For this to work, though, we would need to install a major plank of libertarianism, the removal of all government welfare services. It does the free market no good if immigrants simply come and use the free services provided by our government.
My personal view on illegal immigration is that we, as a country, have the right to control our borders and let in who we want. Those who are here illegally did break the law and should be treated as such. I think we should make it easier for people to come here. If we were to put in libertarian welfare policies than I would support open borders, allowing anyone who wants to work in this country to do so.

Miss S. said...

I had to read this post twice; it sounds like something that a liberal would say. It is nice to see that those outside of the "liberal" label can still be socially conscious and and think about the disadvantaged. Not that I a believe that conservatives are cruel, callous people, but I feel they throw the baby out with the bathwater far too often when promoting their platform.