Monday, October 01, 2007

A disabled “Libertarian Macho Flash” featuring Terry Liberty Parker

From an email exchange in September, 2007:

Dear Mr. Benedict:

My name is John [name changed to protect privacy]. I am writing to you to seek information on where the Libertarian party stands on helping the disabled. I suffered a career-ending, major stroke several years ago. And, if it weren't for the private disability insurance and Social Security Disability insurance that I receive, my family and I would be out on the street. I've been a life-long Republican, but the shenanigans of the Bush administration have left an awful taste in my mouth. I'm a big fan of Neal Boortz and after spending time on his website, taking the 1-minute "political quiz", I realize a lot of my values are congruent with the Libertarian party's.

I've posed my question to Mr. Boortz and to the Libertarian party at the national level only to get no response. I figured trying at the local level may prove more enlightening.

So, what is the stance on what to do for a man cut down at the age of forty in the prime of his career? I sincerely hope the answer is not "tough luck, mister, Go get a greeter's job at Wal-Mart."

I apologize if I've been long-winded, but it happens to be the issue that determines my political choices from here on in.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

--John

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John:

Based on the fact that you're a big fan of the famously offensive yet entertaining Neal Boortz and the fact that you made the self-deprecating comment, "tough luck, mister, Go get a greeter's job at Wal-Mart," I'll assume you have a high tolerance for sarcasm.

If not, I advise that you hit the delete button fast without reading further.

Because, I'm going to ratchet up the sarcasm a few notches.

Where does the Libertarian Party stand on helping the disabled like you?

Perhaps we should buy you a one-way bus ticket to Canada, eh? They've got socialized medicine. Better yet, we could bulk-rate ship you on a slow boat to Cuba, no? Castro offers free health care. If you're xenophobic, we could just send you to Hillary's Village, HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

To answer your question more seriously requires considering the current state of our health care system in America, how we got there, the resulting effect on people's behavior, what your situation is now, how the response to your situation would be different had our health care policies evolved in a truly free market system, and how changing our system more towards free markets might affect people currently afflicted with serious medical conditions.

Education, health care, and transportation are three areas where the government keeps getting more heavily involved, and the results are abysmal. Increased government intervention has resulted in costs escalating, with quality and service deteriorating. We'd be better off without government involvement in all three areas, but I'll restrict my further comments to health care.

I wish the government had never gotten involved in health care. Had that been the case, you and I and others would be much better off. Government licensing and regulations restrict the supply of and innovation of health care providers which drives up the costs and drives down the quality.

The fact that the government will ultimately take care of any of us in dire need of medical care also has affected our behavior and planning for the future.

Many decades ago, the government did not provide health care. If we knew government would not be there in case we were afflicted with a debilitating health problem, we'd adjust our behavior to plan for that possibility. Families (including extended networks of cousins) might maintain stronger ties because they'd realize they might be needed to take care of one another in case of a tragedy. Specific medical problems cannot be predicted, but on average we all know that some of us will have them before old age.

We might be nicer to our parents, children, brothers and sisters, cousins, neighbors and friends knowing one day we might need to rely on each other. If we knew government would not be there as a provider of last resort, more of us would be sure to get adequate insurance to cover serious problems. Family and friends would put pressure on those renegades who resisted getting insurance using the argument that "we love you and would do whatever it takes to provide for you in case of tragedy so you owe it to us to take some personal responsibility in the matter." Perhaps some parents of adult children would pay for medical insurance rather than giving money for tuition, BMW's or Chevrolets. Charities would be there to provide for some where the family bond failed, and the recipients of charity would probably be more likely to behave in ways to maintain the willingness of charities to provide for them.

I already mentioned how medical costs would be drastically lower under free market conditions making all of this more practical than it sounds in today's environment.

Nevertheless, we haven't had a free market in health care for decades and now you're afflicted with a debilitating medical condition. I think it's completely rational for you and your family to take advantage of whatever services are available to you, even if some of it is provided by the government. I support privatization of transportation and utilities yet we don't have that and I walked on the government sidewalk and drove on the government roads today, plus flushed some waste into the government sewerage system today (didn't count how many times).

What to do with you today is a difficult thing for me to answer and how to fairly transition from our current situation to a more libertarian world is not easy for me to answer either. What's easier for me to say now is that we need to make LESS GOVERNMENT the goal of a majority of Americans and only then can we find and implement ways to transition from what we have now to what we should end up with keeping in mind those who now rely on certain government provided services.

One of the most radical libertarians ever is named Terry Liberty Parker and he lives right here in Austin, Texas. He was recently afflicted with a brain tumor. While Terry has long been an advocate for less government, I know he's receiving some government provided health care services and that's quite rational given the government's imposition in all aspects of health care services in America today.

I'm going to forward this email to Terry Liberty Parker and ask him to respond to one question. Note that Terry Liberty Parker has a severe condition, was recently given a dire prognosis though he's fighting it heroically and he may not be able to respond.

Nevertheless, Terry, please tell us now if you can, given that you've spent much of your life fighting for freedom for all, and given that you're fighting for your life today, and that what you say today could have a long-lasting effect on the freedom movement, what's your long-term prescription for health care in America today?

a) more government b) less government

In my opinion, the shorter your response, the greater the long-term impact.

Yours in liberty,

--Wes Benedict

PS: Boortz is wrong on the Iraq War.

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John writes:

Mr. Benedict: Thank you for your thoughtful response. BTW, I love the sarcasm...it's what keeps me sane in this forced, premature retirement.

I wanted to clarify my situation just a tad. While my stroke left me handicapped (irregular gait, right arm doesn't work too well, emotional liability, etc.) my health is actually pretty good. I would love and try to get back to work, but if I were to try and fail, I would lose all my income and everything. Or, if I were to stroke out again, the insurance company would say, "Sorry, you have a preexisting condition." It's a shame that an intelligent, capable man like me is trapped by a system that, at the end of the day, is broken and unfair. I'll likely end up in poverty as a result.

Thank you for forwarding to Mr. Parker. I certainly wish him the best in his health challenges and certainly understand if he cannot share his thoughts.

Again, my sincerest thanks.

Regards,

John

PS: I'm not sure what I think is right in the Mid-East unless it involves using the words thermonuclear and annihilation in the same sentence.

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Terry says:

Hi Wes: Sorry this response is so late. We had a very busy day today, but here is my answer.

Wes Says: Nevertheless, Terry, please tell us now if you can, what's your long-term prescription for health care in America today?

a) more government b) less government

Terry's response is:

(c) No government.

I am using only a small fraction of the money stolen from me over the years by the government. No one owes me anything. I am getting better and some people think that's good and some think it's bad. I consider it a good thing.

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LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Thank you Terry!!!

--Wes

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“Libertarian Macho Flash” is a term coined by Michael Cloud in an essay "The Late, Great Libertarian Macho Flash" in 1978.

http://www.theadvocates.org/secrets-interview.html

While I agree with Mr. Cloud to a degree, lately the message from many Libertarians has gotten a little too watered down, risking losing its inspirational message and appeal.

My heart goes out to Terry, John, and all 300 million Americans trapped in our increasingly socialistic health care system in America. Terry, thanks for sticking by your radical libertarian principles even in distress. You’ve been a radical thorn in the side of government for decades, an inspiration and guide to many libertarians including me, and I wish you the best in your struggle against cancer. May you live long, live strong, and live free.

1 comment:

Wes Benedict said...

Wes this is a post I was replying to on your blog, but I didn't register and thought I just send it to you instead if that is okay and Susan wasn't enthusiastic about continuing the discussion on the lprads list. Yada-yada-yada.


I caught this over at lpradicals and am replying here so as not to clutter up that list. When we libs discuss medical care we fail to take note of some of the realities of present day life as has been mentioned. Too often I have heard others talk as if anyone on SSI is a thief. Which is often far from the truth. My wife is disabled and had private disability insurance. For
her to collect and go on long term disability, which is different from
short term disability, the insurance company required her to file for Social Security which she now collects. I was recently inquiring about disability insurance through the company that I work for and was told that should I need to go on long term disability I will need to
file for Social Security. The insurance company requires that.

Having mentioned my personal issues I think I have a fairly good understanding part of the problem.

There are a lot of parts to this problem that are poorly understood by Libertarians, me included, as well as the general public. A couple of points: What role does the McCarran Ferguson Act of 1945 have on health care cost and what happens if it is repealled? That particular law as I understand it exempt insurance companies from the anti-trust laws and allows the state to regulate them, which results in some 50 states having their own little market. In effect balkanizing the industry. What impact would making midwives more available to expectant mother have on infant mortality and costs? It should be noted that midwives are much more available in Europe than in the states. And finally I should suggest that people read the book Voluntary City which is available from the Independent Institute. It is an excellent history of voluntary societies that took care of many of these issues prior to government involvement.

MHW
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