Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Healthcare Morality and Practicality

The moral and the practical are two sides of a single coin: the coin of human action. A breach in one is a breach in the other. This is because the whole purpose of morality is to guide a man's actions toward life-promoting success.

A pair of recent articles evaluating the current proposals for healthcare reform each looks at one side of that coin.

The Wall Street Journal editorial, "The Worst Bill Ever" analyzes the impracticality of HR 3962. If implemented, the bill will cause massive increases in both health care spending and national debt, because in spite of significant increases in taxes, all the incentives (political and personal spending) lead to greater consumption of healthcare goods and services, accompanied by political pressure for the government to meet the demands. With or without an immediate "public option," there is still plenty in the bill which will shackle, undercut and eventually destroy private health insurance for all except the very wealthy--giving most of us fewer, more expensive choices.

An article published on-line at The American Thinker,"Charity and Sacrifice in a Free Society," addresses the other side of the healthcare reform coin: the moral limits of government action. Referencing the works of Ayn Rand, F.A. Hayek and Alexander Hamilton, the authors argue for a government action constitutionally limited by individual rights--rights which "impose no obligation on an individual except to abstain from violating the rights of another individual." Charity is properly the voluntary act of individuals, not an action in which some coerce others in the name of a "public good."

Economic analysis and arguments can enlighten us on the practical consequences of our actions. The study of ethics and politics are necessary to clarify our moral reasoning. But these are just two different ways of looking at human action. When moral principles are breached, when individual rights are violated, the results will not and cannot be practical.


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