This, the fourth Comment of the Day generated by the post on pre-existing conditions and health care insurance, is a comment on the original COTD on that post, and not on the more recent Comment of the Day on the Comment of the Day on that Comment of the Day, thus sparing Ethics Alarms the most ridiculous headline in its history.
The topic now holds the blog record for most re-published comments, and it could easily be more, since the number of excellent responses from readers on all sides of the issue is well into double figures.
But now it’s texagg04‘s turn. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Comment Of The Day: “No, Insurance Companies Treating People With Pre-Existing Conditions Differently From Other Customers Is Not ‘Discrimination’.”
… The beauty of being a Federalist, especially a Libertarian Federalist, is that with the nuance of the system, I’m quite content with communitarian solutions to problems — when they are applied at the *appropriate* level and the *higher* they go, the more they need to provide a value, which left to it’s own the devices the market cannot produce the value soon enough to avoid a catastrophic harm to the market. The lower they go the more they can fulfill the various market whims of the locals.
My wife and I run our *family* as a fairly communist regime, though a bit more free than say, Soviet Russia. We really enjoy our *city* Library system. But for the most part, we really love our State keeping out of our business. I think its great that in places like Chicago and other snow-clad northern wastelands, some communities have mandated that each individual be compelled to ensure his section of city sidewalk is clear of snow – I think its great that some communities don’t.
When a problem arises which threatens the balance of the market severely enough but the market itself cannot provide a solution quickly enough that it essentially cannot save itself, I would submit that is within the government’s purview.
The first and easiest example, War (certainly the defensive kind). Should a foreign invader be at the doorstep of a commercial republic, no market anywhere will form, equip, train and deploy a brand new army before the invader crosses the frontier and occupies the land. So, that commercial republic collectivizes its defense into a quickly deployable, already equipped and trained force.
Another example would be the decision of legal disputes. Despite what the truly hyper-libertarians we call “anarcho-capitalists” say, no there could not be a market solution to arbitrating the breaking of law. Standing courts and enforcement arms already have reason to be a collectivized institution. I don’t think police provide a “core service”, as Jack puts it. They are almost NEVER there to actually stop a crime. At best they provide clean up, pursuit and apprehension after the fact. They’re core role, depending, are as agents of the judiciary or agents of the executive.
Fire fighting services are a great example. They really don’t exist to save any particular property from a fire as much as they exist to prevent the spread of a fire to the rest of the community and if moral luck is on their side they may save some of the affected property. In a fire-fighter-less community, (with not “bucket brigade” style mandated response), if a fire broke out, the market itself would be much to slow to provide a community-saving response.
Several considerations go into deciding whether or not a particular risk is high enough for a particular community to collectivize a particular task, this is why you see some communities, typically rural with no fire department or a volunteer department only. This decision is also tempered by the scope of the need, is the area under consideration sufficiently intertwined that Individual A ought foot part of the bill for a collective task that protects against a risk he is likely never to face? This is why we have a National level and Nationally funded military – Everyone, even the most remote citizen is affected by a foreign aggressive take over…but this is also why it makes sense to have divided up fire departments, why should Individual A, living 50 miles from the nearest fire station have to foot the bill for a service he-will-NEVER partake of that only catastrophically threatens the community far away from him. His house may burn down, but no fire engine would reach him anyway.
Several considerations go into deciding what level of government is appropriate for the various institutions that arise to meet these contingent needs. The primary driving forces in our Republic which decide that proper place are 1) How does it balance the Rights of the Individual vs the Ability of the Government vs the Needs of the Community, 2) At which level can it be held most accountable to the People, 3) At which level is it most economical and responsive.
So no, this isn’t an argument about providing for fundamental rights, even though fundamental rights (especially to property) is a key consideration here, as the health care debate essentially boils down to the coerced appropriation of property (via taxes) to pay for 1) other people’s bad health decisions and 2) nature’s dealing of undesirable hands to some people. Now, I have yet to see a single substantive argument made for the notion that “health care” is a fundamental right. Feel free to try, but good luck avoiding arguments that boil down to “it’s the right thing to do” or “you’re a heartless bastard”, which is pretty much the emotional appeals that the arguers resort to.