All Washington is agog with Senator Rand Paul (R, KY)'s latest politically incorrect pronouncement: according to him, socialized health care is slavery!
With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery.
Needless to say, this didn't go down well; Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders brushed it off with a derisory query of government employee Dr. Dana Kraus, who was testifying, as to whether she felt like a slave. Certainly not!
I love my job. I do not feel like a slave.
She's not a slave, of course. As she left the Congressional hearing in her government-provided car to return to her government-provided office, and thence to her no-doubt-expensive home paid for by her lavish government salary, Dr. Kraus has no reason to feel badly done by. She's receiving a more than ample wage for her services provided.
In fact, virtually every person who actually provides medical care is paid for their time. Even when a homeless bum is dragged into the emergency room for treatment, the doctors and nurses there are on the time clock. There's no deduction from a doctor's salary for the time he spent on patients who didn't pay.
So what was Dr. Paul getting at? He had a point, a very vivid and true one; but it's not the point that first appears.
No, the health care workers aren't slaves, whether they're government employees or work for a private clinic.
But as we've seen, emergency rooms are required by law to treat needy patients whether they can pay or not. If the doctors themselves are paid, but the homeless bum doesn't pay... who does?
Sometimes it's the government; for many years, the Feds sent along some of our tax money to provide a subsidy to hospitals which provided "charity care." This subsidy has been shrinking for years. Some states allow a property tax exemption in exchange for charity care, which is fair enough; but the obligation to treat remains. It's not a choice.
What's being stolen here? In the case of for-profit hospitals, an obligation to treat those who can't pay is no different than if Wal-Mart was legally forced to give free food to people who couldn't afford to buy it. That would be unconstitutional on its face - it's a "taking" if anything is - but the Feds have used their awesome purchasing clout to weasel around that clause in the case of medical care.
For non-profit or public hospitals, it's a little more complex. When you and I go to the hospital, we pay, or our insurance company pays. When Jose Boozer is dragged in off the street by the cops, he doesn't pay. Obviously, what we're charged has to cover Jose Boozer's tab too.
Is that slavery? Not exactly: it's a hidden tax.
As Tax Freedom Day annually reminds us, working Americans spend the first third of the year toiling for Uncle Sam's benefit. That's not the same thing as chattel slavery; it's not even totally involuntary, since we could move to a different country or stop voting for Democrats if we really wanted.
Or can we? In Washington DC, there are now more people taking money from the government than paying taxes, which means that the voting majority doesn't care about tax hikes. If everyone in DC votes their own interests, taxes will always go up and never down; the few producers remaining in the city have been effectively disenfranchised. Insofar as they stay in the District, the elections are a sham and their payments are involuntary, with no hope of democratic repeal.
Does that make them slaves? Not in so many words... but not totally different either, and getting closer all the time. Dr. Paul is trying to point out the risk to all Americans in a hope that we can solve the problem before it becomes unsolvable.