The latest encroachment of state upon medicine is, I think most of us realize, nothing novel. We have socialized medicine elsewhere in the world, and no matter how badly it fails and how reductive of liberty it is, the drumbeat to implement it here has been constant throughout my lifetime. But the slope didn’t start slipping with Medicare or any of the other government programs; in my opinion, the journey predates modern collectivism by centuries.
I’ve written before about how my great-grandmother was threatened with arrest for curing TB patients. This would’ve been in the early decades of the 20th century. But she was hardly alone: Medical guilds have been attacking outsiders since the days they were respectable barbers with a shady side-business.
Basically, when the various medical associations managed to get a monopoly on treating the sick, and got the force of the state on their side, they not only diminished prospects for health (in the name of protecting people, of course, it’s always in the name of protecting people), they signed their own death warrant.
Someone else at Ace’s or Althouse mentioned Microsoft, which is a propos because one of Microsoft’s tactics for conquering a niche has always been to “partner” with their future competitors, usually offering some tempting deal. At that point they’d steal code (for example), and integrate it into the OS. Cut off their oxygen, as I think MS CEO Steve Ballmer put it. At that point, you can either outlawyer them, buy them off cheap (if you need to buy them off at all), and voila, you own the market.
I actually consulted for a company that partnered with MS. I was astonished that they partnered with them, seemed to be proud of that fact, and watched as MS created a competitor that is now included with every version of Windows. But at least they’re still in business.
That’s, of course, similar to how the government works, as well. The government “partners” with doctors–and look how tight the AMA and government are–offering them the sweet deal of a monopoly, and wiping out their competition. (Remember, the government just spent $2.5 billion to prove that none of these other things work. Meanwhile tens of billions go into curing cancer with no appreciable progress made.)
And while the government forbade compensation increases during WWII (to stem inflation), they exempted medical insurance, thus leading to the current weird situation where one is beholding to an employer for tax-deductable coverage or else stuck buying their own, giving us the current market distortions in the insurance market. (Well, that and all the other “help” the government gives.)
And now it’s time to pay the piper: The price for the monopoly–for convincing the country that there is only way to treat medical problems, and that there is only one source for that treatment–is to become public servants, under the thumb of the government. In the words of Darth Vader, “I have altered the deal. Pray that I don’t alter it again.”
The thing that got me thinking about this was stumbling across this somewhat overblown video on poor Willhelm Reich. I referred to him as a “probable quack” in my previous post, which was just a flip statement (plus, like “snake oil”, I use “quack” affectionately).
I don’t know if Reich was really a quack or not. I do know that he was destroyed, just like my old pal Ignaz Semmelweis, and his writings actually banned by the government! (Or so they say; I haven’t seen the order.) I’m not sure how the First Amendment allows celebrities to be attacked with known lies, but also allows controversial philosophical and medical ideas to be banned.
But I do think it’s kind of interesting that I keep seeing “the ether” pop up in scientific articles. And I’m pretty sure that it’s within my rights as an American–or it was supposed to be–to explore such ideas, however wacky, stupid or even personally harmful, they might be. I think the Founding Fathers would have wanted me to be able to buy an orgone box if I felt like.
Hell, Franklin would’ve gone halfsies with me.