The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
Dr. William C. Padgett is a retired optometrist who has been trying to bring an elderly care facility to Beaufort County, North Carolina, for over a decade.“Our senior citizens,” he laments, “are finding that it is difficult and in many cases impossible to find an appropriate long-term care facility locally.” Though he has received several […]
Professor John H. Cochrane of the University of Chicago had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 25, in which he gave a brief description of (among other things) a market in which individuals buy our own health insurance — and not from an Obamacare exchange.According to Professor Cochrane: “…we should transition to […]
A new survey from Harvard University found a large majority of young Americans do not believe the law will save them money, do not believe it will improve their health, and do not intend to sign up for insurance through the new exchanges.
Liberal supporters of the Affordable Care Act specifically, and big government in general, are quick with excuses for all the problems that Obamacare has been experiencing in these early days. We have heard: they did not have enough time, it’s complicated, it’s the insurance companies’ fault, we just need to make a few adjustments, and […]
I opened a new bottle of probiotics this morning, and it had one of those circular seals on the top. You know, the one that reads, “Sealed for your protection.”And that seal got me thinking… how much protection do we need? How much security is enough?How much homogenization, pasteurization, disinfection, national security, etc…. do we […]
As the fallout continues over the cancellation notices sent to millions of people covered by health plans in the individual insurance market, it is becoming clear that millions more workers and their families are expected to lose their employer-based coverage as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented.According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 156 […]
A president stands disgraced. Congress is scattering. Bureaucrats are baffled. Pundits are reaching. Industry is scared. Politicians are scrambling to do something, anything, to make it better. One political party is in meltdown and the other loving every minute of it, hoping to ride the calamity to electoral gains.The so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care […]
Any married couple that earns more than 400% of the federal poverty level -- that is $62,040 -- or a family of two earns too much for subsidies under Obamacare. But if that same couple lived together unmarried, they could earn up to $45,960 each -- $91,920 total -- and still be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges in New York state.
The president assures us he is not responsible for the wave of health insurance policy cancellations. The insurance companies are. OK, so where is the other side?
The saying goes that things have to get worse before they get better. But with Obamacare, things just keep getting worse — and then they get worse still. In private, even many critics of the law are at least a bit surprised by how poorly the rollout has gone. The question that many are asking […]
Though the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges has dismayed even the law’s supporters, the problem the ACA is designed to address is real enough: Millions of Americans, even those with insurance, lack access to adequate health care. In a voluntary society, civil-sector groups would step up to provide social services, like health […]
It is such a kick to read the transcripts from the White House’s health care “war room” in the first days of release. What a meltdown, and you get to watch it all in real-time.I’m not trying to be cruel to the kindly despots who have wrecked so much of what worked in the existing […]
Obamacare certainly has made history. It has set the record for the fastest-failing Big Government program in world history. This isn’t only about a website flop; it is about the failure of government to accomplish the aims of Obamacare in general, and in a way that has profoundly touched millions of individual lives.“Train wreck” is […]
A handful of reports last week suggested that the Obama administration had moved to delay the health law’s individual mandate — the penalty the law imposes on those who are uninsured. That’s not quite right: Instead, the administration will align the 2014 penalty date, which had been February 15, with the end of Obamacare’s open […]
A common argument made in favor of government-financed health care is that it is inherently cheaper than a private system. Strangely, however, the people who celebrate the government’s ability to hold down health care spending would be horrified at the same argument applied to other public-sector functions. It’s a seriously inconsistent position held by advocates […]
You didn’t want to be the guy chosen to tell Stalin that the wheat crop failed or the production quotas on trucks and cars were not met. Why?Because despots always blame people, not systems.In the same way, you don’t want to be the guy chosen to tell Obama that his health care websites are a […]
Lately, many have characterized this administration as socialist, or having strong socialist leanings. I differ with this characterization. This is not to say Mr. Obama believes in free markets, by any means. On the contrary, he has done and said much that demonstrates his fundamental misunderstanding of and hostility toward the truly free market. But […]
As the health care debate rages on, there is one reality that even the proponents of this hostile takeover of health care by government cannot ignore — and that is money. The government simply does not have the money for a new, expansive, public health care plan.The country is in a deep recession. The last […]
The online Internet exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act are up and running.OK, they’re up. Uhh, OK, some of them are sort of up.It has been almost a week since last Tuesday’s initial launch, and there have been more than a few problems.Website crashes, excessive response times and other problems have plagued the exchanges. […]
This week is a big one in the psychiatry world. The American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). What is now a massive 1,000-page tome doesn’t come out very often, but when it does, as Johns Hopkins distinguished professor Paul McHugh writes, the book “shape[s] what psychiatrists say and do with their patients.”
Back in the old days, say, in 1952, when the DSM-1 was a spiral-bound pamphlet, people were shy; now they have social anxiety disorder. People who were once referred to as nervous Nellies now are afflicted with general anxiety disorder.
But after just a few precious minutes spent with a psychiatrist, the troubled are sent off to their friendly pharmacist for the modern version of “mother’s little helper.”
Thomas Szasz, who died at age 92 last fall, believed the psychiatric community was — dare I say it — nuts.
Szasz wrote in his book The Second Sin, “If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; if you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic.”
Imagine a book full of witty common-sense quips similar to the above, listed from A-Z. That is Szasz’s Words to the Wise: A Medical-Philosophical Dictionary.
In this age of Obamacare, Big Pharma, and the therapeutic state, the wisdom of Szasz, arguably the medical profession’s biggest classical liberal, will reassure you that you’re not the one’s that’s crazy.
Szasz believed that each person owns his or her body and mind and has the right to be free from the violence of others. The government, in his view, has no business interfering with the practice of medicine, suicide, the use and sale of drugs, and sexual relations.
He argued that the definitions contained in books like the DSM-5 were simply names attached to sets of behavioral criteria. He opposed involuntary psychiatric treatment while at the same time condemning the insanity defense.
The scare tactics used by the drug prohibitionists were vigorously disputed by Szasz. In an interview with Reason magazine in 1974, he said, “The idea that a single experience with a drug — say, heroin — makes one a ‘slave’ to it, makes one unable to exist without it, is simply not true. It’s what I call ‘pharmacomythology’ — in contrast to pharmacology, which has to do with the real chemical effects of drugs.”
Szasz believed in a free market in all things, including heroin. As he put it, it should be sold like baby food. Giving yourself pleasure shouldn’t be a crime, even if it kills you. In fact, killing yourself shouldn’t be illegal either.
Szasz believed the term “mental illness” is simply a metaphor. His view was that psychiatrists can’t really treat anyone. Szasz believed the subject matter of psychiatry is, the same as religion, “what used to be called moral philosophy, of what the great dramatists and novelists of all ages have written about.”
When pressed, he called psychiatry a religion, or several religions. Szasz, the great libertarian, was essentially the atheist of psychiatry. Psychiatry is the misuse of language, he said. Patients aren’t sick, and psychiatrists aren’t treating any sort of illness.
Szasz told Reason that he liked to think up short statements or aphorisms. Words to the Wise compiles 240 pages of the brilliant fruit from Szasz. It is the perfect book, not necessarily to read cover to cover, but to poke through for pleasure and reference.
There are extensive entries for “language,” “drugs,” “psychoanalysis,” “suicide,” and “therapeutic state,” among others.
Szasz had a way of looking at the world that will turn you around and make you think. He does this not with long-winded monologues, but with sentences and paragraphs that are both pithy and memorable.
Remembering the country’s founding, Szasz explains that the United States government “was established on the principle that there are certain things it must not do to people. These injunctions are properly called the Bill of Rights.” Today’s government, however, believes “that there are certain things it must do for or to the people. These prescriptions ought properly to be called the Bill of Wrongs.”
- “Giving oneself a controlled substance is a crime. Accepting it from a physician is a treatment”
- “Treating addiction to heroin with methadone is like treating addiction to scotch with bourbon”
- “Some parents want their children to have it better; others want them to do better. The former are likely to have incompetent and unhappy children, the latter, competent and happy ones.”
“Statist medicine turns adults into children,” Szasz writes. “Popular acceptance of this paternalistic substitution of needs for wants — of medicalized permissions for personal decisions — is emblematic of how readily the American people have embraced medical statism, and rejected individual liberty and personal responsibility.”
More than once, the author will make you chuckle. For instance: “The four categories of persons who can be relied on not to keep promises: politicians, psychiatrists, psychopaths, and psychotics.”
Speaking of the DSM-5, Szasz writes: “What the sharia is to the Islamic state, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association is to the therapeutic state.”
Unquestionably, Szasz displays his wisdom throughout:
“Most people want liberty and self-determination for themselves and subjection for others. Some want subjection for everyone. Few want liberty and self-determination for everyone.”
Thomas Szasz was one of the few who wanted liberty for everyone and is considered (rightly) one of the heroes of the freedom movement. Words to the Wise is great way to build a common-sense vocabulary in freedom, psychiatry, medicine, and so much more.