Socialized Medicine Means Crushing Taxes And Denied Care
FEBRUARY 4, 2019
David Ruiz is being starved to death — in a hospital. In the United States. The 32-year old member of a Native American tribe has been in a coma since suffering a stroke on New Year’s Eve. Ruiz is on a ventilator. His sister says the man is responsive to external stimuli, but the hospital staff has cut off food and water after declaring him brain dead.
The question of denying nutrition and hydration has been subject to good-faith ethical debate among care providers for some time. But it is usually connected to clearly defined end of life circumstances like cancer or dementia, and is often a byproduct of the will of individual patients: those who consciously refuse food and water, and whose medical powers of attorney proscribe life-saving measures.
In this case, the patient cannot actively refuse. His family wants Ruiz fed and hydrated, but hospital officials have made a unilateral decision. This relegates Ruiz to no more than an actuarial concern, a built-in feature of socialized medicine, one of several points conspicuously avoided when discussing the efficacy of a government-run system.
Socialized Medicine Must Ration Care
First among those points is that a Congress with 3 percent of members who are health professionals lacks the institutional knowledge needed to run a nationwide system. Second is the reality of doing so. While the left often bleats about the disconnect between the United States and other industrialized nations in providing health care, those champions of medical equity nearly never mention the taxes necessary for getting there. American politicians have not suggested revising our tax structure to mirror any in Europe. Instead, they wave off the costs as something “the rich” will pay for, which is mathematically impossible.
Despite tax rates of roughly 40 percent at all levels of income and national sales taxes (the value-added tax, or VAT) of 20 to 25 percent, as well as massive taxes on gasoline and other goods, the cost of “free” is quite expensive — not that many European countries haven’t tried grabbing as much revenue as possible. The result? The old adage about other people’s money is playing out in hospitals across the continent. When those tax rates are not enough, then what? Factor in an aging population and the problem is not one of providing care, it’s one of math.
We’re a society in which roughly half the population has no federal tax liability and 20 percent of wage-earners pay nearly 90 percent of federal income taxes. At some point, it is worth asking how much of one person’s money is another person entitled to receive? But no one on the left is asking. If anything, the question is dismissed as irrelevant. Instead, advocates go the emotional route, beating the drum of health care at the expense of others as some inalienable right. That’s now how it works.