Force Versus Persuasion in Health Care

The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society. - Mark Skousen, Persuasion versus Force

Today at work we were discussing the recent news that AT&T will take a $1 Billion dollar non-cash accounting charge as a result of the recent Health Care Act. Surprisingly not many of my coworkers were even aware of this news. We discussed what effect this may have on our pay and benefits. Most of the group expressed their disdain over the Act. However two coworkers wouldn't accept the fact that this Health Care Act is bad for our country.

The first, lets call him Boris, made the argument that this bill will cost AT&T money, but it won't affect our pay or benefits. He is normally an intelligent guy, but when it comes to economics he just doesn't get it. He believes that if AT&T shows a profit then that profit is coming out of our pay. We tried our best to explain to him that when AT&T loses money, they are going to pay their employees less, not more. The same is true of the insurance companies. When insurance mandates increase costs, companies will pass the expenses down to their customers and employees.

Boris, like many on the left, believes many economic fallacies. He, like many of our elected leaders, believe that government can conjure up wealth by waving a magic legislative wand. The Health Care Act will demonstrate that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch". The health care bill will increase the cost of doing business both inside and outside of the health care industry. As a result investors will be less likely to invest, employers less likely to hire, and students less likely to choose medicine as a career. The long term consequences of this act will be less innovation, less doctors, worse health care and more poverty.

The second coworker, lets call her Natasha, expressed her full support of the Health Care Act. She mentioned how bad it is for her neighbor not to have health insurance, whether he wants it or not. Natasha also stated that she supports socialist policies of all sorts. I told her that I found her attitude to be very violent. She kept asking me to repeat my statement, because she couldn't believe what I was saying.

Let us say that Natasha was to go over to her neighbor's house with a gun and force him to buy health insurance. Natasha is not satisfied with a cheap plan that just covered major expense, but a plan with expensive provisions like unlimited coverage amounts and mandated coverages of everything from abortion to zollinger-ellison syndrome. If her neighbor refused to purchase this expensive plan, Natasha would use the gun to extort $2,400 out of him to buy a plan for him, whether he wanted it or not.

I'd call such behavior violent.

Natasha however, considers herself a peaceful person and detests guns. So instead of using a gun and doing the force herself, she has someone else do it for her, like her friend Vladimir. Or the federal government. Is Natasha any less violent? If she uses the guns of government to force her world order on other people, is she not just as guilty and violent as the entity using those guns?

Both Boris and Natasha have a distorted view of the world that is true of many on the left and the right. Such a view values force over persuasion and violent coercion over peaceful cooperation.

The left favors force and violence when it comes to economic issues. Government mandates, fines, taxes, government controlled wages, and tariffs are all based upon force. If you don't follow their will, the government will come down on you with a vengeance, seizing your property and assets and possibly sticking you into a cage. A free market, however is about persuasion. A provider is persuaded into offering services that are of value to a customer at a competitive price. Otherwise a competing provider will swoop in and take that customer away.

The right favors force and violence when it comes to personal issues. They want the government to impose their version of morality upon you. Use of non accepted drugs, unapproved gambling, and certain sexual choices and behaviors are all answered with forceful fines and/or imprisonment.

Libertarians always favor persuasion over force. Members joining our party must agree that they "do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals". This principle is a rejection of the initiation of violence against other human beings.