Take No Prisoners

Why Healthcare Must Be Public

Others have said this before, but it’s worth repeating.

The purpose of the healthcare system is to keep people from getting sick in the first place, and, if they do get sick, to make them better as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

The purpose of business is to make money.

There is no money in keeping people from getting sick, and curing the sick ASAP.

The way to make money through healthcare is to get people sick as soon as possible and keep them sick as long as possible, meanwhile draining them dry of funds for the “treatments.”

The healthcare system is fundamentally incompatible with profit motives. We must abandon private healthcare thinking as quickly as possible.

Update (25Jul2009): See Bill Maher’s piece in the Huffington Post, New Rule: Not Everything in America Has to Make a Profit. FTA: “If conservatives get to call universal health care “socialized medicine,” I get to call private health care “soulless vampires making money off human pain.” The problem with President Obama’s health care plan isn’t socialism, it’s capitalism.”


  • Brian S.
    Posted July 23, 2009 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    I disagree. What we DO NOT NEED is government health care. They cannot run the fucking post office nor can they run amtrak. I DO not trust them with 1 cent of my tax dollars making any sort functional health care system. what we need IS FREEDOM. lets the markets regulate themselves and let people choose the doctors they want and the kind of coverage they want. also we need to reform the laws in malpractice suits. I also do not want to wait a year for an MRI under socialized medicine.

  • Kavan Wolfe
    Posted July 24, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    @ Brian,

    1) what government are we talking about here? I’ll assume you are talking about the U.S. government
    2) why do you say they can’t run the post office? The USPS seems pretty efficient and effective to me.
    3) Why do you say they can’t run Amtrak? If it’s because Amtrak isn’t profitable, perhaps ‘making money’ is not, and should not be, the primary goal of rail.
    4) Personal freedom is not equal to economic freedom. They are inversely related (see The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein).
    5) I live in Canada, where we have socialized medicine. It takes me about three weeks to get an MRI for a non-emergency condition. I am not aware of any modern country with a 1-year waiting list for MRIs.

    What you’re afraid of is not socialized health care, it’s badly run healthcare. These are not equivalent.

  • Brian S.
    Posted July 24, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    1) USA
    2) Corporations taken over by government do not tolerate competition and will stiff other companies and have their company be advantages since it burdens the tax payer. The post office looses lots of money and letters. It has barley adopted any sort of new innovation into it for a very long time. They are also asking for another mail day off….
    3) Amtrak has never been profitable. And it was the primary goal. Nixon took over Amtrak and said they would make it profitable and sell it. We all know that didn’t happen. The fundamental problem is the government is full of bureaucrats who don’t no anything about running businesses yet they get put in charge and then fuck it up.
    4) Actually personal freedom is directly related to economic freedom. It depends on what perspective you are looking at it. Currently we have a Quasi-free market since the government regulates the shit out of it and the FED sets interest rates. Now in a true laissez-faire type of market people are free to choose what they want or when they want it. When the government regulates an industry it generally fucks it up in some way or drives up prices or eliminates competition by promoting the business’s owned by it. The freedom to choose which doctor and which plan you want is related to economic freedom because it allows people to put as much or as little money as they want into plans. an 18 year old and a 65 year old need different plans. The 18 year old does need insurance for small things but some just in case something very bad happens. The 65 year old might need insurance for small stuff and catastrophic stuff as well.

    5)Are you guaranteed that MRI? and do you get to choose your doctor and where you get your MRI? No because you do not have the freedom to. Why do so many Canadians comes across the border for advanced care if Canada had such a good system? There is more freedom currently but socialized medicine would change that drastically. I work at a very well renown hospital and people come from all over (over 200+countries) and all 50 states for care. I would suspect that under socialized medicine where people do not get to choose where they do this would change quite a bit.

    I also suggest you look at this: http://healthcare.cato.org/

  • Kavan Wolfe
    Posted July 25, 2009 at 7:11 am | Permalink


    1) It is much, much cheaper for me to have goods shipped to me via USPS than via Fedex or UPS. As far as I know, the USPS is renowned for the efficiency of its operations. The post office is infrastructure. It’s not supposed to make money. If it loses letters, that’s a problem, and I can’t find numbers on their loss rate, but I’m willing to bet a wad of cash that it’s lower than a typical airline’s baggage loss rate.
    2. Amtrak is also infrastructure. Even if Nixon thought it was supposed to make money, that’s not the most important part. There is no need to put bureaucrats in charge of something just because the government owns it. The government can just as easily hire or retain business managers (not that they’re any better) instead.
    3. If you compare socialist countries to largely deregulated countries, you will find greater personal freedom in the socialist countries, most of the time. Russia, China, Chile and the U.S., for example, have each gone through major periods of deregulation. This was followed by concentration of power in corporations, which quickly led to decreased personal freedom. See The Shock Doctrine, previously mentioned.
    4. Define ‘guaranteed.’ If a doctor orders it, you get it. The mean wait time is 2 weeks. I’ve never heard of anyone just getting missed. Do I get to chose my doctor? Yes. Everyone does. You can go to whatever doctor you like. Do I get to pick which hospital? Sure. If there’s multiple hospitals in a region, I can just ask my doctor to send the paperwork to whichever is most convenient. Where did you get the idea that Canadians are assigned a doctor/hospital? By whom? I assure you, it’s a myth. Moreover, there’s rarely a reason to prefer one hospital to another in Canada, because we mostly don’t have multiple quality tiers.
    5. Rich Canadians sometimes go to the US for treatment, because in Canada, wait times are set by the urgency of the patient’s problem, whereas in the US, wait times are set by how much money you have. In Canada, you can’t just pay extra to cut in line. Wealth, you see, is not a measure of the value of human life.

    Good article on this here: http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/mythbusting-canadian-health-care-part-i

    If you’re getting your facts from the Cato institute, you’re in some deep anti-empirical territory.

  • Zander
    Posted July 25, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Health Care is very important, while Canada may not have the best public health care services in the world. I have found it to be quite useful in my life. I can go to a walk in clinic and get checked out or i can make an appointment with a specific doctor if need be. Weather your using a privatized system of health care or public system you are still paying money. Personally I would like to pay that money thought my taxes. Also Canada’s health care is regulated by the province as a standard and like most places their standards are different. In the province I live in, if I want an X-ray taken i get a note from a doctor and just walk in the next day.

    The problems which the Canadian health care system lacks, however, is competition with the American system of medical professional wages. Working in the USA doctors get paid more for their services and the typical Canadian doctor gets paid less. I do not know the exact difference but it is true. Their are also many other problems that exist but they are probably no different than those in the states.

    In terms of freedom loss, I think Canada has plenty of freedom in our health care system.

  • H
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    Here’s something for the Americans defending their for-profit system of disease profiteering:


    Also, think about this. Americans have for-profit healthcare, most other civilized countries have it free and universal. Who’s economy is fucked up right now? That’s what I thought. Sooner or later you Americans will have to wake up from your slumber.

  • H
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    “In Canada, you can’t just pay extra to cut in line. Wealth, you see, is not a measure of the value of human life.”

    Very, very well said. Kudos to you on that one!

  • Kavan Wolfe
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    @ Zander, good point about the doctor-drain to the U.S. I think the solution there is to pressure the U.S. to make healthcare public, rather than change things here at home.

    @H, ‘disease profiteering’ – nice term! I’m not sure if you can support a causal link between for-profit healthcare and the state of the economy, but it’s an interesting suggestion. Thanks for the kudos 🙂

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