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  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mohammed Atta and his minions flew stolen planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, destroying the former and murdering thousands of innocent civilians. What motivated this atrocity? What filled the murderers with such all-consuming hatred that they were willing to surrender their own lives in order to kill thousands of innocent human beings? The clear answer is that these were religious zealots engaged in holy war with their primordial enemy—the embodiment of the modern secular West: the United States of America.In their evil way, the Islamists provide mankind with some clarity. They remind us of what real religion is and looks like—not the Christianity or Judaism of the modern West, watered down and diluted by the secular principles of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment; but real faith-based, reason-rejecting, sin-bashing, kill-the-infidels religion. The atrocities of 9/11 and other similar terrorist acts by Islamists do not clash with their creed. On the contrary, they are consistent with the essence of religion—not merely of Islam—but religion more broadly, religion as such. This is an all-important lesson that humanity must learn: Religion is hazardous to your health. Unfortunately, conventional views of religion hold just the opposite. Many people believe that religion is the necessary basis of morality—that without belief in God, there can be no ethics, no right or wrong. A character in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov famously expressed this view: “In a world without God, all things become permissible.” In the 21st century, many people still believe this. But the converse is true. A rational, fact-based, life-promoting morality is impossible on religious premises. Indeed, religion clashes with every rational principle and factual requirement of a proper, life-advancing ethics. A proper ethics, one capable of promoting flourishing human life on earth, requires the utter repudiation of religion—of all of its premises, tenets, implications, and consequences. To begin understanding the clash between religion and human life, consider the Dark Ages, the interminable centuries following the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD. The barbarian tribes that overran Rome eventually converted to Christianity, which, in the form of the Catholic Church, became the dominant philosophic and cultural force of medieval Europe. Unlike the essentially secular classical world, or the post-Renaissance modern world, the medieval world zealously embraced religion as the fundamental source of truth and moral guidance. What were the results in human life?
  • Topic: Health, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Paul Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: If someone in America needs medical care but cannot afford it, should he rely on charity or should others be forced to pay for it? President Obama and his political allies say that Americans should be forced to pay for it. Forcing some Americans to pay medical bills for other Americans, says Obama, is a “moral imperative”1 and “the right thing to do.”2 Throughout the health-care debate of 2010–11, Obama repeatedly referred to government-run health care as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” arguing that, “No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.”3 In speeches, he repeatedly cited the story of Natoma Canfield, an Ohio cancer patient without health insurance, as a justification for his health-care legislation.4 Many of Obama's supporters on the political left made similar moral claims. Vanderbilt University professor Bruce Barry wrote in the New York Times that, “Health insurance in a civilized society is a collective moral obligation.”5 T. R. Reid, former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, called universal health care a “moral imperative.”6 Ezra Klein, another writer for the Washington Post, agreed that it is an “ethical obligation.”7 But all such claims are wrong—morally wrong. There is no “right” to health care. Rights are not entitlements to goods or services produced by others; rather, they are prerogatives to freedom of action, such as the right to free speech, the right to contract, or the right to use one's property. Any attempt to enforce a so-called “right” to health care necessarily violates the actual rights of those who are forced to provide or pay for that care. If a patient needs a $50,000 operation but cannot afford it, he has the right to ask his friends, family, neighbors, or strangers for monetary assistance—and they have the right to offer it (or not). But the patient has no right to take people's money without their permission; to do so would be to violate their rights. His hardship, genuine as it may be, does not justify theft. Nor would the immoral nature of the act be changed by his taking $100 each from five hundred neighbors; that would merely spread the crime to a larger number of victims. Nor would the essence of the act change by his using the government as his agent to commit such theft on an even wider scale. The only moral way for this patient to receive the assistance he needs is for others to offer it voluntarily. Morally, he must rely on charity. Fortunately for him, there is no shortage of people willing to offer charity, nor is there a shortage of reasons why one might self-interestedly wish to do so. . . .
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012. 180 pp. $34.95 (hardcover). Reviewed by Ari Armstrong How often does an author defend the right of citizens to own guns and the right of homosexuals to marry—in the same book chapter? In his new book Capitalist Solutions, Andrew Bernstein applies the principle of individual rights not only to “social” issues such as gun rights and gay marriage but also to economic matters such as health care and education and to the threat of Islamic totalitarianism. Bernstein augments his philosophical discussions with a wide range of facts from history, economics, and science. The release of Capitalist Solutions could not have been timed more perfectly: It coincides with the rise of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that focuses on “corporate greed” and the alleged evils of income inequality. Whereas many “Occupiers” call for more government involvement in various areas of the economy—including welfare support and subsidies for mortgages and student loans—Bernstein argues forcefully that government interference in the market caused today's economic problems and that capitalism is the solution. The introductory essay reviews Ayn Rand's basic philosophical theories, with an emphasis on her ethics of egoism and her politics of individual rights. Bernstein harkens back to this philosophical foundation throughout his book, applying it to the issues of the day. . . .
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Health
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Sarah Gelberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: When my two-year-old cat, Lily, began vomiting and refused her food and water, I took her to my veterinarian who, after a battery of X-rays and other tests, found nothing conclusive. The vet offered a preliminary diagnosis of gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach lining, and sent us home with medication to treat the condition. When twenty-four hours of the treatment yielded no improvement, we returned to the vet, who admitted Lily for observation overnight. The next evening, the vet phoned to say: "Lily is still vomiting and refusing food and water, so we ran a second set of X-rays and a comparison of the two sets revealed that her intestines are bunching as if something's lodged inside. There's an emergency veterinary clinic twenty miles away that has an ultrasound machine, which will enable us to see what's inside. Please come pick up Lily and drive her there; we'll notify them that you're on your way." The ultrasound revealed a large quantity of thread tangled in Lily's digestive tract. Unbeknownst to me, she had extracted a bobbin of thread from my sewing kit and swallowed the contents. The condition required surgery, which the vet at the emergency clinic performed that night, removing the thread (which was lodged in Lily's stomach, small intestine, and large intestine) without complications. Lily remained in intensive care for two days before the vet sent her home with a scar on her stomach, some antibiotics, and a list of instructions for postoperative care. She recovered fully and was back to mischief in short order. As this story indicates, the state of animal health care in America, in terms of the quality of the diagnostics and treatments available, is in many ways on par with that of human health care. And the fact that advancements in veterinary medicine have progressed in close parallel with those in human medicine should come as little surprise: Animals are important to us. They provide us with, among other things, food, labor, and companionship. To ensure that our animals are respectively tasty, reliable, healthy, and happy, we need the services of well-trained veterinarians equipped with the latest technologies. That demand is nicely satisfied. Most veterinarians in private practice specialize in either large-animal or small-animal medicine, a division that roughly corresponds to the distinction between livestock, such as cows and sheep, and companion animals, such as dogs and cats. Small-animal veterinary medicine is, in important respects, remarkably similar to human medicine. The skills required in small-animal medicine are, by and large, the same as those required in human medicine,1 and today's veterinary schools are every bit as rigorous as their counterparts in human medicine. After earning their undergraduate degrees, veterinary students must complete four years of medical training and then pass national and state licensure exams. Those who choose to become specialists must also complete an internship and residency and pass an examination for their chosen specialty.2 The technologies used by veterinarians and those used by medical doctors are similar as well. Vets use many of the same drugs as medical doctors, albeit in different concentrations, doses, and formulations;3 and their facilities are equipped with essentially the same kind of medical equipment to treat essentially the same kinds of medical problems. In fact, a great deal of the medical equipment used in veterinary medicine, including surgical instruments, common devices such as stethoscopes, and CT scan machines, is either identical to that used in human medicine or downsized to accommodate the smaller size of most pets.4 In the United States, advancements in human medicine-whether in training, medications, or facilities-are generally mirrored in small-animal veterinary medicine. Fortunately for our pets, however, veterinary medicine has not paralleled human medicine in two important respects: accessibility and affordability.
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Paul Hsieh
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On March 23, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known colloquially as "ObamaCare"), declaring that the law would enshrine "the core principle that everybody should have some basic security when it comes to their health care."1 But, for reasons I have elaborated in previous articles in TOS, far from establishing security regarding Americans' health care, this new law will make quality health care harder to come by and more expensive for everyone. Unfortunately, until our politicians rediscover the principle of individual rights, choose to uphold it, and reverse this monstrosity of a law, we Americans are stuck with it and will have to cope the best we can.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Stella Daily Zawistowski
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In their desire for less expensive, higher quality, more accessible health care, Americans have accepted a false alternative: fully regulated, socialized medicine, as advocated by Democrats, or semi-regulated, semi-socialized medicine, as advocated by most Republicans. But if Americans want better health care, they must come to recognize that government intervention, great and small, is precisely to blame for America's health care ills. And they must begin to advocate a third alternative: a steady and uncompromising transition toward a rights-respecting, fully free market in health care. In order to see why this is so, let us first consider the unfree, rights-violating nature of American health care today. Under our current semi-socialized health care system (which both Democrats and Republicans created), the government violates the rights of everyone who provides, purchases, insures, or needs health care. It violates the rights of doctors by forcibly subverting their medical judgment to the whims of government bureaucrats or to the heavily regulated insurance companies; it violates the rights of citizens in general by forcing them to buy insurance with a mandated set of benefits; it violates the rights of insurers by prohibiting them from selling plans of their design to customers of their choice at prices they deem economically appropriate; it violates the rights of pharmaceutical companies by forcing them to conduct trials that, in their professional judgment, are unnecessary; and it violates the rights of suffering and dying patients who wish to take trial medications but are forbidden to by law. These instances merely indicate the numerous ways in which the government violates the rights of health care participants, but they are enough to draw the conclusion that Americans are substantially unfree to act in accordance with their own judgment—a fact that alone is sufficient reason to condemn our current system as immoral. But, as we shall see, the immoral nature of the current system is also precisely what makes it impractical. The system is in shambles because of these rights violations, a fact that will bear out on examination of the three aspects of health care of most concern to Americans: its cost, its quality, and its accessibility.
  • Topic: Health
  • Political Geography: America