Last month, Oklahoma teachers staged a walk-out for better wages and more funding for schools, as well as a plethora of other tacked-on reasons. Regardless of how one feel about any of these particular causes, I believe an interesting parallel can be drawn not only between teachers, but any government employee. Where, through taxation, we’ve funded anything from law enforcement and fire and EMS, we’ve also funded teachers and schools; and we’ve given more power to those agencies. The power to withdraw critical services, and withhold it for any reason they deem necessary. Yet, when it comes to healthcare, we have people touting it as a “right” while at the same time requesting that government take over the industry, much like teachers. But they never stop and ask the question: What if the doctors walked out?
In 1974, the Baltimore Police Department went on strike in solidarity with municipal sanitation workers. Chaos ensued. Arson became a particular problem and one looter was killed by a non-striking officer. Thankfully, police strikes are very infrequent. In other countries, such as Brazil, in 2017, Brazilian officers went on strike and in nine days in the city of Espirito Santo, 143 people were murdered. Whether you agree with law enforcement or their role in society or not, the comparison is there. Aside from a myriad of other problems with government-offered healthcare, is this potential problem I feel is largely ignored.
Imagine, if you will, you awake one morning and you’re having chest pain. The pain is radiating down your left arm. You go to the hospital to get help, only to be told that the government is not paying them enough and there are no doctors to help you. In the current healthcare model, although admittedly not perfect, you could potentially go to another hospital that pays their doctors competitive wages and, in dire circumstances, they cannot turn you away. Under a government-controlled model, all you’ve really done is create one big union by force. Something that could impact far more people and has the possibility of being far deadlier than a police strike.
This article is not being written to fearmonger. It is only meant to call attention to another potential problem with a state-sponsored solution to healthcare. At the end of the day, I truly believe that no individual is entitled to another’s labor. It’s a little disheartening when some of the loudest voices are calling for government-subsidized healthcare, especially when places like Veterans’ Affairs are the only shining examples of government intervention we can bring to light.
In closing, I would like to tie this together with another libertarian thought that was brought to my attention.
While researching the walk-out, an interesting crowdfunded project came across my search results that I think deserves a thanks. This thank you will go to a very unlikely place, but a big thank you is due to the Democratic Socialists of America. You see, although not on purpose, the DSA have proved a shining example of libertarian thought: that charity is far more ethical than taxation and is a practical replacement. They set up a donation through YouCaring to feed children who were not getting lunches due to teachers being on strike. Although the district in Oklahoma is providing meals for children, the DSA saw that there was a need and started this fundraiser for people to willingly donate to. A very ethical $9,375 was raised to feed kids. Kudos to you, DSA, and those that gave!
* Richard D. Sherley is an ex-Democrat turned Libertarian who works in law enforcement. He enjoys discussing politics, religion, history and playing Devil’s Advocate and, most of all, being a father.