Single Payer Heath Care: Immoral And Deadly

Sep 302008

[The following is a mirror of the original post at PatientPower. Brian's post was also the winner in Week 4 of the Anti-Socialized Medicine Blog Post Contest.]

The following letter on the dangers and immorality of single-payer health care was co-authored by Brian Schwartz, Ph.D. and Paul Hsieh, M.D. in response to an article in the April 2008 issue of Annals of Surgery supporting such a policy (Sarpel U, Vladeck B, Divino C, et al. Fact and Fiction: Debunking Myths in the US Healthcare System. Ann Surg 2008; 247(4):563-569; available at Medscape here, registration required [free]).

The journal describes itself as “the world’s most highly referenced surgery journal, provides the international medical community with information on significant contributions to the advancement of surgical science and practice.”

The Editorial Board rejected it. The reviewer stated:

This is a very biased and vitriolic letter. There certainly is a broad range of opinion as to the best system of health care for the United States and open discussion is to be encouraged. However, to call a single payer system, that serves much of the Western world with equal or better results than we achieve in the United States, “immoral” and “deadly” is inappropriate and serves no purpose. Prior to consideration for publication, this letter needs to be toned down several notches.

The reviewer apparently believed that it was out of bounds to question either the morality of single-payer health care or the alleged fact that it yielded “equal or better results” than the American system. Of course, these were the very points that we believed needed to be challenged and discussed in an open fashion.

Also, as shown here, while the journal was “happy to evaluate a revised version of this manuscript,” the reviewer provided minimal guidance on appropriate revisions, and our request for more constructive feedback was ignored.

We submitted a revised version, which the reviewer found “not acceptable for publication in the Annals of Surgery.” We’d like to let readers decide for themselves. Here is the complete text of the revised version:

Single-Payer Health Care: Immoral and Hazardous to Patients’ Health
In “Fact and Fiction: Debunking Myths in the US Healthcare System”[1], Sarpel et al presume “an obligation to provide healthcare to those who need it.” This faulty moral premise underlies all forms of socialized medicine (including the single-payer system they advocate) and should be rejected by Americans as immoral and antithetical to core American values.

The only moral and proper role of government is to protect individual rights of its citizens. But health care is a need, not a right. A right is a freedom of action one possesses, such as the right to free speech. Rights are not automatic claims on goods and services produced by others — that is just state-sanctioned robbery. If a man is hungry, he doesn’t have the right to take a can of soup from his neighbor’s pantry. A man’s rights imposes only the negative obligation on others to not violate those rights, not a positive obligation on others to provide for all his needs.[2]

Whenever a government attempts to guarantee any service (such as health care) as a “right,” it must also control it. This can only be done by violating citizens’ actual rights. Under a government-run single-payer system, bureaucrats ultimately decide who receives what care and when, not doctors and patients. Doctors must work under the government’s terms and for the government’s prices. The inevitable result is a system like Canada’s, which harms both patients and doctors through its infamous waiting lists and rationing.

Canadian patients routinely suffer and die while waiting for their “free” health care. According to the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, “Canadian doctors say patients wait almost twice as long for treatment than is clinically reasonable, …almost 18 weeks between the time they see their family physician and the time they receive treatment from a specialist.”[3] A Canadian woman with a newly-diagnosed breast cancer might wait several months before she receives the appropriate surgery and chemotherapy.[4] The Canadian Medical Association noted, “Protracted treatment delays increase mortality and morbidity rates. [In a 12-month period in Ontario], 71 patients died while waiting for CABG [and] 121 were removed from the list permanently because they had become medically unfit for surgery.”[5] The Supreme Court of Canada summarizes these injustices: “[W]aiting lists for health care services have resulted in deaths, have increased the length of time that patients have to be in pain and have impaired patients’ ability to enjoy any real quality of life.”[6]

The Canadian single-payer system takes its toll on doctors as well. According to the New York Times, significant numbers of frustrated neurosurgeons have left Canada for the US (a net loss of 49 out of a total of 241 in the entire country over a six year period). The surgeons’ primary complaint was not money but rather a government bureaucracy which “increasingly rations service because of various technological and personnel shortages,” making it impossible for them to practice according to their best medical conscience.[7]

American health care has genuine problems, but they were not caused by the free market but rather from decades of government interference in the free market, as documented in an article co-authored by one of us (PSH).[8] For example, politicians should not dictate whether consumers buy insurance on their own, through a membership group, or through their employer. But, as Sarpel et al acknowledge, the tax-exempt status of employer-sponsored insurance does just that. It locks employees to their jobs, shields insurance companies from competition, and encourages excess insurance coverage which gives patients little incentive to be cost-conscious consumers.[9]

Instead of worsening the current government-caused problems by imposing more futile controls, politicians should adopt free-market reforms that respect individual rights. At the federal level, legislators should eliminate the employer tax break and lower tax rates commensurately. A second-best solution would be to extend the tax exemption to all medical insurance and expenses. Health Savings Accounts are a step in this direction, but should be eligible to everyone regardless of their insurance plan. Such “Large HSAs” would allow consumers to buy medical care and insurance with tax-free earnings.[9]

State-level reforms to make insurance affordable include eliminating mandatory insurance benefits, community rating, and guaranteed issue. Largely because of such controls, the average price of individual and family insurance in the five most expensive states is three times the price in the five least expensive states.[10] Repealing laws that forbid purchasing health insurance across state lines would make health insurance available to millions who currently cannot afford it, while respecting individual rights.[11]

The free market has done a magnificent job in providing Americans with all other necessities of life, such as food, shelter, and clothing, and can do the same for health care if freed from government interference. Patients trust their physicians with their health and their lives. Physicians must not betray that trust by turning them over to the tender mercies of a single-payer socialized medical system that, as we contend, would be both deadly and immoral. They should instead demand free-market reforms.



1. Sarpel U, Vladeck B, Divino C, et al. Fact and Fiction: Debunking Myths in the US Healthcare System. Ann Surg 2008; 247(4):563-569. (Available at Medscape here, registration required [free])

2. Peikoff L, revised by Zinser L. Health Care Is Not a Right, Denver: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine; 2007.

3. Skinner B, Rovere M, California Dreaming: The Fantasy of a Canadian-Style Health Insurance Monopoly in the United States. Fraser Institute Digital Publications, Fraser Institute, May 2007: 1-4.

4. Saint-Jacques N, Younis T, Dewar R, et al. Wait times for breast cancer care. Br J Cancer 2007; 96:162-168.

5. Davies R. Waiting Lists for Health Care, a Necessary Evil?. Can Med Assoc J 1999; 160(10): 1469-1470.

6. Steinbrook R. Private Health Care in Canada. N Engl J Med 2006; 354:1661-1664.

7. Krauss C. Windsor Journal; Doctors Eying the U.S.: Canada Is Sick About It, New York Times. October 27, 2003.

8. Zinser L, Hsieh P. Moral Health Care Vs. “Universal Health Care”. The Objective Standard. Winter 2007-2008; 2(4):9-41.

9. Cannon M. Large Health Savings Accounts: A Step toward Tax Neutrality for Health Care, Forum for Health Economics & Policy 2008; 11(2) Article 3.

10. America’s Health Insurance Plans. Individual Health Insurance 2006-2007: A Comprehensive Survey of Premiums, Availability, and Benefits. December 2007.

11. …And Escape From New Jersey, Wall Street Journal. May 29, 2008. A16.

The Bailout Made Easy

Sep 302008

The cover from this week’s edition of The Economist reduces the bailout to its essentials:

(Unfortunately, the article itself supports the bailout.)

In contrast, 8 years ago Howard Husock wrote the following about the Community Reinvestment Act in “The Trillion-Dollar Bank Shakedown That Bodes Ill for Cities“:

…Even without a no-down-payment policy, the pressure on banks to make CRA-related loans may be leading to foreclosures. Though bankers generally cheerlead for CRA out of fear of being branded racists if they do not, the CEO of one midsize bank grumbles that 20 percent of his institution’s CRA-related mortgages, which required only $500 down payments, were delinquent in their very first year, and probably 7 percent will end in foreclosure. “The problem with CRA,” says an executive with a major national financial-services firm, “is that banks will simply throw money at things because they want that CRA rating.” From the banks’ point of view, CRA lending is simply a price of doing business—even if some of the mortgages must be written off.

…Looking into the future gives further cause for concern: “The bulk of these loans,” notes a Federal Reserve economist, “have been made during a period in which we have not experienced an economic downturn.” The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s own success stories make you wonder how much CRA-related carnage will result when the economy cools.

I think we’re finding out exactly how much right now…

More Analysts Blaming Government For Economic Crisis

Sep 302008

Here are a couple more articles in which non-Objectivists are correctly putting the blame for the current mortgage crisis on government policies, not the free market.

In “Credit Crisis Not a Free-Market Failure“, Thomas Sowell writes:

…Since risky investments usually pay more than safer investments, the incentive is for a government-supported enterprise to take bigger risks, since they get more profit if the risks pay off and the taxpayers get stuck with the losses if not.

The government does not guarantee Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but the widespread assumption has been that the government would step in with a bailout to prevent chaos in financial markets.

… If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were free market institutions they could not have gotten away with their risky financial practices because no one would have bought their securities without the implicit assumption that the politicians would bail them out.

It would be better if no such government-supported enterprises had been created in the first place and mortgages were in fact left to the free market. This bailout creates the expectation of future bailouts.

In “Reject bailout rush to socialism“, David Littmann writes:

…Washington does not want you to remember the four ways it has brought us to this unfortunate moment. Let’s review:

* The Community Reinvestment Act (approved in 1977 during the Carter administration) compelled banks and other lenders to loan money and grant mortgages in areas where they would have never dreamed of making such loans because of the exceptional risks of default. Banks were denied charters for growth and geographical expansion if regulators found them to be out of compliance with these politically correct regulations, enforced by the Federal Reserve and others.

* Government-sponsored enterprises (such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) received taxpayer subsidies to provide mortgages and are favored by politicians and regulators with the privilege of maintaining very thin capital reserves as buffers against losses that result from defaulting on delinquent mortgages.

* Insane accounting rules, the Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory regime and Securities and Exchange Commission rules have contributed to the mess, especially the devastating “mark-to-market” requirement. The financial reports of firms and financial organizations must carry assets on their ledgers as though they were forced to sell them immediately into distressed markets, rather than at book value…

* And the Federal Reserve spurred subprime lending by pursuing inflationary money policies that dropped bank-borrowing rates to 1 percent.

To avoid greater government involvement and messes in the future (think Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security), Washington must extricate itself from the market. As real estate prices become more affordable, credit-worthy firms and individuals throughout the nation and world are ready to pounce on bargains that will appreciate.

The government got America into this situation. The solution is simple: Government, get out.

I’m heartened to see this idea in circulation. We should continue to stress this point when we discuss this issue with legislators as well as others.

To keep things simple and easy-to-understand, I’ve been using the three key points that Tony Donadio mentioned in his earlier comment:

(1) The current crisis was created by government interference in the housing market.
(2) Further interference will only make things worse.
(3) It is unjust to make innocent people who did not make or take out irresponsible loans pay for the mistakes of those who did.

Bush Vs. Ott On The Bailout

Sep 302008

As one would expect, President Bush called for a massive financial bailout in his recent speech to America. So much for fiscally conservative Republicans.

I prefer this fictional Bush speech from satirist Scott Ott a lot better. Here are a few excerpts:

Bush: Congress Must Act to Save Stupid People

…”To sustain this shining city on a hill,” Mr. Bush said, “we need to rescue the ignorant, irresponsible folks — from Wall Street to Capitol Hill to Main Street — who got us to where we are today. We must guarantee that no American suffers the soft bigotry of being forced to live with the consequences of his bad decisions.”

…”If these giant companies fail, then America will be left with nothing but thousands of small to mid-sized financial firms that made prudent investment decisions during the past 15 years.”

…”It is a moral imperative that we guard the civil rights of these idiots,” he said. “If we fail, then we face the specter of free market capitalism run amok, and millions of Americans will feel the painful lash of personal responsibility across their backs.”

Correspondence on the Bailout

Sep 292008

Objectivist historian John Lewis recently sent his representative a terse note against the bailout. His representative responded with the pro-bailout crap. And Dr. Lewis wrote a lengthy, informative, and very pointed reply. He has given me permission to reproduce the whole correspondence, but you might just want to skip down to his reply. Then you might want to forward it to your representatives in Washington.

Here’s the first letter:

From: John Lewis

Dear Speaker Pelosi and all US Representatives:

I oppose all bailouts of financial institutions by the US government.

Government regulation and meddling is solidly to blame for this crisis.

We must reduce government involvement in the economy now.

Dr. John David Lewis
Visiting Associate Professor of Political Science, Duke University
Senior Reasearch Scholar, Social Philosophy and Policy Center

Here’s the reply from Representative David Price of North Carolina:

Date: September 29, 2008
From: Congressman David Price
To: Dr. John David Lewis
Subject: Reply from Congressman David Price

Dr. John Lewis

Durham, NC 27705

Dear Dr. Lewis:

Thank you for contacting me about our country’s financial crisis and the proposed recovery legislation. Today the House defeated this legislation, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, by a vote of 205 to 228, despite my support.

Like you, I do not have any interest in “bailing out” Wall Street firms and business leaders who have speculated recklessly, endangered our country’s consumers and homebuyers, and resisted regulation that would protect the public interest. My concern is for Main Street – for the people depending on a sound economy and the availability of credit to buy a house or car, to run their business and meet payroll, and to save for college and retirement.

Like it or not, we are all in this together, and the entire economy is threatened as we teeter on the edge of a 1929-style meltdown. Today Wachovia Bank, a North Carolina mainstay, collapsed. But this goes much deeper than bank failures. Last week, the City of Raleigh could not find a buyer for a $300 million bond, and Wake County cancelled its planned $472 million bond issue for school construction, Wake Tech, libraries, and open space acquisition. Both have AAA bond ratings.

Although President Bush lacks the credibility to be of much help, I take the dire warnings of economic analysts very seriously, particularly in light of everything that has happened in the last few weeks. But I could not support Secretary Paulson’s request for a blank check for $700 billion to purchase mortgage-backed securities and stabilize the markets.

I thus became part of the intensive discussions over the last ten days to rewrite the Treasury plan in several critical respects. The legislation which came before us today would:

o Provide strict independent oversight and accountability for all activities undertaken by the US Treasury

o Release the $700 billion in installments, with multiple reviews along the way

o Make certain that the entire $700 billion is recaptured by the Treasury and thus by the American taxpayer, by requiring that taxpayers share in any profits resulting from the government’s help and providing for assessment of the financial industry for any remaining losses

o Forbid “golden parachutes” and limit other compensation for executives of participating financial institutions.

o Require the government to work with participating institutions and loan servicers to help deserving homeowners negotiate reasonable repayment terms and stay in their homes

The defeat of the bill prolongs and perhaps deepens the crisis. Coordinating with the Senate, the House will need to return within days to try again. Perhaps the economic situation will then lead some members to reconsider. Perhaps the bill can be changed in ways that attract a majority; I certainly have a list of improvements I would like to see. But considering the members who voted “no,” I will want to scrutinize carefully any changes designed to attract them.

I am committed over the next few days to continue working to avert financial collapse and get the best possible deal for America ‘s taxpayers and homeowners. I welcome and share your concern about this situation and will be glad to hear from you at any time.



Member of Congress

Here’s Dr. Lewis’ stellar response:

Date: Monday, September 29, 2008
From: John Lewis
To: Congressman David Price of North Carolina
Subject: Reply from Congressman David Price

Dear Congressman Price;

Thank you for your frank and fast response. I should be clear. I am opposed to bailing out these firms. But what I am more opposed to is the entire political culture of regulation–including manipulation of interest rates, Sarbanes-Oxley, changes in accounting rules, the Community Reinvestment Act, and a scad of others–that has fostered this mess. Two weeks ago no politician in Washington knew this was coming. Suddenly, after several all-nighters, they have enough knowledge to grant a quarter of a trillion dollars to a government bureaucrat, to dole out as he sees fit–and to promise another half-trillion, should his actions make it worse.

Meanwhile, the country focuses on the allegedly evil CEOs, “speculators” (read “investors”), and loan initiators who were earlier damned for NOT making loan money available to high-risk borrowers. I remind you that the Community Reinvestment Act penalizes firms for not making such risky loans. Now, suddenly, those firms are villified for following the law. Well, that’s government–it faces no penalties, except a periodic popularity contest, and can contradict itself with impunity.

Most of all, I resent the politicians and punditrs who are claiming, contrary to evidence, that it is now “impossible to get a loan” on Main Street. It is impossible to borrow millions on Wall Street, but regional banks that made prudent investors are not in danger–unless the government further coerces them.

The government is not saving Main Street–it is nationalizing it. Is it not true that, with the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government now holds paper on tens of millions of American mortgages? What does granting American citizens “equity positions” and “profits” in companies seized by the government mean, except communism? Don’t we condemn Hugo Chavez for nationalizing oil companies?

I will also recall, as a student of economics, that the Great Depression was caused by a string of obnoxious legislation, and was then cruelly extended by massive government interference. Contrary to prevailing, but long-discredited, opinion, the government did not save us from that mess. It created, and prolonged, it. Twenty years earlier, JP Morgan ended the panic of 1908 in a few weeks–bankers in 1929 could not so act. Today, Morgan would have been jailed for the private pooling of assets he arranged. Is it not true that AIG was told by the Attorney General of New York that it would not be allowed to sell sound assets in order to save the holding company? Who is to blame for the collapse of a huge, and largely sound company, excpet those who forbhid its executives from acting?

You will forgive me if I have no respect for the likes of Senator Schumer, who started a run on a bank with his irresponsible statements and then claimed virtue for them, or Senator McCain, up to his neck in the Keating scandal, or Senator Dodd, whose reputation was on the rocks until this crisis saved him, or Senator Obama, who had not a clue at a White House meeting last week, and then went on-script before the press to cover his ignorance. You will please forgive me if promises of “oversight” by these PR men do not instill confidence.

I much more respect the CEOs who have spent their years in the business, and who face actual consequences for their errors. They do not have access to hundreds of billions of dollars of other people’s money–and they do not expect their stockholders to approve busines plans that cannot foretell whether they will lose three-quarters of a trillion dollars, or get some of it back in five or twenty years. They do not have their hands in the pocket of every person who produces in this country.

The truly brave politicians are those who recognize that the government is largely to blame for this mess, and should start emergency repeal of regulations now. Only this can allow responsible CEOs to start making decisions based on sound economics, rather than fear of breaking a law.

John Lewis

Dr. John David Lewis
Visiting Associate Professor of Political Science, Duke University

Thank you, John!


Sep 292008

Two carnivals have included NoodleFood posts lately, so I wanted to shout back to them: Carnival of the Godless and Weight Management and Fitness Forum.

Keep Up the Pressure

Sep 292008

The proposed bailout plan has failed in the House of Representatives.

The vote against the measure was 228 to 205, with 133 Republicans joining 95 Democrats in opposition. The bill was backed by 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans.

HOORAY! As a result, the plan is stalled, at least for the moment:

Supporters vowed to try to bring the rescue package up for consideration again as soon as possible, perhaps late Wednesday or Thursday, but there were no definite plans to do so.

That’s great news. But I’m not terribly surprised, I must say. (I can’t claim credit for the following insight, however. A friend suggested it to me last night.) Why not?

People are inundating their representatives with strong opposition to the bailout. Mark Udall, a representative from Colorado running for Senate reported: “People are mad. My calls are mixed, between people who say ‘No’ and people who say ‘Hell no.’”

Members of the House of Representatives are vulnerable to political discontent. Unlike in the Senate, the whole bunch (except those retiring) is up for re-election in just over a month. So as this vote indicates, many do not wish to risk their seat by voting in favor of wildly unpopular legislation — despite all the pressure from party leadership.

So what does that mean for us? It means: keep up the pressure. If you representative voted “no,” call or e-mail him to give your moral support. If he voted “yes” (as mine did; he’s retiring), then call or e-mail to tell him that you’re upset with him. You can find out how your representative voted here.

Unfortunately, the web site for the House (including their contact form) seems to be down, as does Does anyone have a working link to suggest?

Update: Reading that NY Times article in full, I’m impressed by the seemingly principled opposition to the bailout. See these descriptions and quotes:

Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, said he intended to vote against the package, which he said would put the nation on “the slippery slope to socialism.” He said that he was afraid that it ultimately would not work, leaving the taxpayers responsible for “the mother of all debt.”

Another Texas Republican, John Culberson, spoke scathingly about the unbridled power he said the bill would hand over to the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., whom he called “King Henry.”

A third Texan, Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat, said the negotiators had “never seriously considered any alternative” to the administration’s plan, and had only barely modified what they were given. He criticized the plan for handing over sweeping new powers to an administration that he said was to blame for allowing the crisis to develop in the first place.

In contrast, consider what the supporters of the bailout are saying:

When it comes to America’s economy, [Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Democratic Majority Leader] said, “none of us is an island.”

Representative Maxine Waters, a Democrat, said the measure was vital to help financial institutions survive and keep people in their homes. “There’s plenty of blame to go around,” she said, and attaching blame should come later.

Adopt an Investment Bank

Sep 292008

Via Bill, a funny column on the bailout from Joel Stein in the LA Times:

Even though I understand so little about economics that much of my long-term investments are tied up in Costco products, I feel pretty sure that letting Congress give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson $700 billion to buy super-crappy mortgages is not the right call.

Sure, like any American, when I see a photo on the Internet of an adorable little investment bank and find out it’s at risk of being put to sleep, I want to throw in $2,000 to $3,000 of my own money to adopt it. But instead of jacking up inflation, letting the dollar sink further and paying higher taxes so we can keep up cheap borrowing — which is what this plan amounts to — I think we need to let those who made bad loans get burned. We need to accept that credit will dry up and that maybe — for just a bit — we’ll have to stop buying more than we can afford.


So let’s not stop the short-selling of financial stocks — the only brake on overindulgence — as Paulson did last week. Let’s not strip Congress of yet another power by giving the Treasury secretary the right to decide where to dole out a large portion of our budget. Let’s not encourage more risky loans by making profits private and losses public. And let’s not create some bastardized form of communism in which the new rule is, “From each according to his ability, to each according to the size of the investment bank he owns shares in.”

I don’t agree with the whole column. He fails to recognize government regulation as the root problem of the current crisis, instead claiming that “we’ve got basically sound banking system that got a little under-regulated during the Clinton administration.” However, I do appreciate his insistence that the people and corporations who took the risks assume the responsibility for their losses. And I liked his humor: it highlighted the absurdity of treating corporations as objects of government charity.

Army at Home?

Sep 292008

Why is it that I’m not comforted by this “we’re from the army and we’re here to help” plan?

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.

Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.

Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. In August 2005, for example, when Hurricane Katrina unleashed hell in Mississippi and Louisiana, several active-duty units were pulled from various posts and mobilized to those areas.

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.


“I can’t think of a more noble mission than this,” said [1st BCT commander Col. Roger] Cloutier, who took command in July. “We’ve been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home … and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones.”

Oy. Will these soldiers also be on call for “manmade emergencies and disasters” like … say … economic collapse caused by rampant government interference in the financial markets? Whoever wins the election, the answer surely would be “yes.”

I love and respect the American military, and that’s why I’m so worried about these plans to deploy the military inside the US. Soldiers must be trained to operate effectively in hostile territory amongst potentially hostile civilians. In those circumstances, every unknown person must be regarded with suspicion, and the overriding goal must be the mission at hand. In contrast, maintaining peace and security at home amongst fellow Americans is the job of the police — and the national guard, if necessary — including in times of crisis. That’s what they’re trained to do, at least in theory.

This news highlights the very real threat to our liberty of reshaping the American military into a humanititarian force abroad, as has happened since World War 2. The threat is not just that taxpayer dollars are wasted on feel-good missions without any relevance to national security. The threat is not just that soldiers must risk their lives for the sake of random strangers in foreign lands, rather than to preserve and protect American liberty. The threat is the logic of the idea: if the military help foreigners in times of disaster, why shouldn’t they also help Americans too? To the extent that the military is easygoing and friendly, thereby allowing it to operate at home with all due respect for American civilians, then it’s not an effective fighting force: it would not have the kind of detachment, discipline, and ambition to fight real wars in hostile territory. And, if it is that kind of effective fighting force, then any operation inside the US risks a ugly clash between civilians and military. Either way, it’s bad.

(Via The Agitator.)

Recap #11

Sep 282008

This week on Politics without God, the blog of the Coalition for Secular Government:

And this week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM: Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine:

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