Prohibition Revisited

by | Sep 24, 2010

Prohibition made it illegal for Americans to buy alcohol. It did not stop them from drinking.

Survivalists, or “Preppers” as they sometimes call themselves, see a bleak future. They could be right…or not. It depends on which road we take: acquiescence or resistance.

Prohibition made it illegal for Americans to buy alcohol. It did not stop them from drinking. It increased it. Going to a speakeasy was groovy, as collegians — even high school students — sought new adventures. Others started to drink in sheer defiance of the heavy handedness of the federal enforcement of the 18th Amendment.

Prohibition interfered with individuals’ choices. So does the healthcare law. ObamaCare interferes with the relationship between doctor and patient. The new law will not stop suffering. It will increase it. The Affordable Health Care Act (Public Law No. 111-148) forces doctors to give free examinations and preventive treatment. In some cities, doctors are currently paid as little as $8.00 a visit. That fee can be expected to decline further under the new law. The number of doctors taking Medicare/Medicaid patients has dropped from over 70% to approximately 50% in 2009.

This percentage is expected to continue to sink farther, as doctors withdraw or refuse to take part. One hopes so. They have formed a Tea Party and are advocating the repeal of the healthcare law. Most doctors know that capitalism would fairly reward the highly skilled. Welfare states on the premise that the able are obligated to care for the malingerer, do not.

Prohibition increased criminal activity. So will the healthcare law. As the number of doctors decline and the safety of medical practices is sabotaged by corruption and fraud, criminal activity in black markets will erupt. The unscrupulous will offer shoddy, possibly even deadly medications, preying upon those tired of waiting in long lines.

Those denied access to medical care will surely face extortionists. Donald Berwick, arch-socialist, has been nominated to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He admires Great Britain’s health care system. He supports massive government rationing. Those who accede to politician/bureaucrats’ demands will get treatment. Those who don’t, won’t.

Mr. Berwick also supports a massive health care bureaucracy to redistribute the wealth. The wealth he will loot will pass into non-productive hands and unprofitable schemes, disappearing down black holes of spending instead of investment. Mr. Berwick’s nullification of individuals’ choices guarantees that the productive will vanish.

The healthcare law also usurps State sovereignty. It has been widely reported that 21 states have filed lawsuits on the grounds of the unconstitutionality of the healthcare law, that 10 more are planning to, and that 41 states are banning key aspects of it. The infringement on state sovereignty as much as the unaffordable cost prompted Florida, for instance, to act. The Complaint, filed in the US District Court Northern District of Florida, shows that the law will add another 1 million enrollees to Florida’s already bloated 2.7 million Medicare/Medicaid recipients. The healthcare cost for Florida will be around $6,700 per person. New Mexico will have to shoulder an estimated 91,000 new enrollees at $7,074 per person.

Nationally, the new health care law will add $562 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. Since the costs of implementing and creating state bureaucracies to run the healthcare program are not included in healthcare estimates, the actual deficit is expected to be close to $1 trillion. Former New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson rhetorically asked in an e-mail to several acquaintances, including this author, “Where is that money coming from?”

Productive citizens in the private sector are the government’s only source of real revenue. To illustrate one way of squeezing that source, a business associate related the following: “A friend was medi-vac’d from St. Vincent’s to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Her bill there was $106,000. The hospital accepted the Medicare reimbursement as payment in full. That reimbursement was $5,000. The $101,000 then [went] to G & A as overhead to be passed on to other patients with health insurance, [who] will pay higher rates for service.”

The new healthcare law mandates even lower hospital reimbursements.

Prohibition sought to force individuals not to buy a product an individual wanted. The healthcare law seeks to force individuals to buy a product an individual may not want. Both laws violate the individual rights to life and property. Advertisers entreat you to buy a product, or shun a competitor’s, but they cannot force you to do so. A government can. It points a gun—i.e. prison and/or a fine if you do not obey—at your head to force you to take actions you do not choose. Since life is a process of making choices and taking actions to sustain your life, such laws violate your right to life by placing politicians’ values between your choices and your actions. In the same way, they violate your right to property by forcing you to spend your money (your property) as they dictate.

The violation of individual rights is not only a violation of one’s political freedom. It is more fundamentally a violation of one’s moral values. The violation of one’s right to life, for instance, is the attempt to cancel one’s reason. Since every man must think in order to live, thinking is a matter of sustaining one’s life, and thus it is right to use one’s own mind to do one’s job and earn one’s way. Hence, reason is a moral value. When, however, the government violates your right to life, it violates the function of that moral value. It says, in effect, the government will tell you what to do, you must forgo following your own thinking and choice.

The violation of individual rights also violates one’s moral virtues. It is no secret that after more than a generation of the welfare state, those bought up in it have a moocher mentality and a malingerer’s approach to self-supporting work. Such attitudes show that the virtue of productivity has been destroyed and that the virtue of pride and the virtue of independence —the choice to think for oneself—have been obliterated. The individual who held a sign in Arizona protesting that state’s immigration law is an example of what violating moral virtues lead to. Her sign read: “We want free food; free housing. You owe us, America.”

“They can put me in jail and fine me. I will not comply with that law,” Dr. Andrew Bernstein, author of Capitalism Unbound, stated on his Facebook wall. Others have come to the same conclusion. What will happen when a large number of otherwise law-abiding, hard working, tax-paying Americans elect to go to jail rather than comply? Who—or what—is the government going to loot next? Bank and retirement accounts. It has already begun. A proposal is being readied to take over retirement accounts. The productive are the competent. Without the competent to maintain them, electrical grids will break down. Illumination, cooking, heating, cooling, security systems, stock trading, banking, computers controlling myriad operations of all forms of communications, transportation, water supply and fuel pumps, will not function. Food supplies will also be affected.

Harvested food will rot in trucks stopped on the roadside for lack of fuel, and in stores for lack of refrigeration. People desperate for food will tear through crops. Whatever foodstuffs remain in the fields will spoil without a means to harvest and transport it.

As the supply of goods dwindles, the number of sick will balloon. Different forms of medical help will be offered. The government’s extortion racket will surely invite “underground” practices. Like the speakeasies of the Prohibition era, you will have to know someone to gain admission into a trustworthy underground medical facility. Thugs will run another type of facility, offering bogus remedies and butcher-knife “operations.” Many people will die unnecessarily. And not on clean sheets.

We should be prepared, but our goal should be to retrieve our country. Preppers seek to move to self-sufficient rural areas, isolating themselves as much as possible from what they believe is to come. Let us stay and fight. Let us dedicate ourselves to Patrick Henry’s view.

We need not accept so dark a future. We need not acquiesce to the meaning and intent of this law—which comes close to near-total control of individual lives. Consider who fashioned this law: Corrupt, grasping, dishonest politicians who have caused crises after crises—such as Barney Frank’s “Affordable Housing” which is acknowledged to have been the underlying cause of the economic meltdown. Such men and women have presumed to write a law violating our rights and telling us we must obey it. Are you willing to be ruled by such creatures?

Let us repeal the healthcare law. Let us vote out those corrupt politicians. Let us recognize the importance of free-market medicine and individual rights, and that we cannot have one without the other and be healthy and safe.

Sylvia Bokor is an artist and writer. You can read more of her writings on her blog.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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