Rothbard, Friedman on Health Care
| Peter Klein |
Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman are no longer with us, unfortunately, but their opinions live on. Lew Rockwell is running a 1994 piece by Rothbard on what was then called Hillarycare, while the Saturday WSJ reprinted a 1996 essay by Friedman on “Soviet-Style Health Care.” My favorite excerpts:
Rothbard on “universal access”:
[T]here is one simple entity, in any sort of free society, that provides “universal access” to every conceivable good or service, and not just to health or education or food. That entity is not a voucher or a Clintonian ID card; it’s called a “dollar.” Dollars not only provide universal access to all goods and services, they provide it to each dollar-holder for each product only to the extent that the dollar-holder desires.
Friedman, quoting a a physician character in Solzhenitsyn’s 1967 novel The Cancer Ward, on Soviet-style “free” health care:
What do you mean by “free”? The doctors don’t work without pay. It’s just that the patient doesn’t pay them, they’re paid out of the public budget. The public budget comes from these same patients. Treatment isn’t free, it’s just depersonalized. If the cost of it were left with the patient, he’d turn the ten rubles over and over in his hands. But when he really needed help he’d come to the doctor five times over. . . .
Is it better the way it is now? You’d pay anything for careful and sympathetic attention from the doctor, but everywhere there’s a schedule, a quota the doctors have to meet; next! . . . And what do patients come for? For a certificate to be absent from work, for sick leave, for certification for invalids’ pensions: and the doctor’s job is to catch the frauds. Doctor and patient as enemies — is that medicine?