On Health Care, Donald Trump Sounds Like Bernie Sanders

by | Jul 18, 2015

So why the socialism, Donald, when it comes to medical care?

Donald Trump may oppose Obama on some things, such as his “agreement” with Iran.

But on other things, such as health care, his only complaint is that Obama’s socialism does not go far enough. In this respect, Trump is more like socialist Bernie Sanders than anything else.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Trump said this yesterday: “You can’t let the people in this country, the people without the money and resources, to go without healthcare.”

Why not?

Who is the “you” in this question? By “you,” Trump is referring to the people who are able to pay for health care. Those who are able to pay for another’s health care, must be forced by the government to do so. “From each according to his ability — to each according to his need” (Marx’s credo), is the unspoken premise that Trump applies here.

Does Trump consider himself a socialist, or a Marxist? Almost certainly not. But if you believe in, and agree with, its most fundamental assumption in one context (especially a very important one, like medical care), then you are, to that extent at least, a Marxist.

Trump’s unspoken implication here is no different from Obama’s, Bernie Sanders’, or anyone else who favors socialized medicine. The implication is that government must guarantee free health care as a right, and that if it fails to do so, then those without health care will die.

Trump, who’s supposed to be so smart in business and economics, overlooks the value and necessity of a free market. The United States does not have a free market for medicine — not anything close. Most health care now is in some way funded by the government — Medicare, Medicaid, or “Obamacare,” which (aside from being a drastic regulation of the market) is essentially Medicaid.

When government largely controls and monopolizes a marketplace, it’s no longer a free market. It’s the same with public schools. While it’s technically legal for private schools to operate in a “marketplace” and “compete” with public schools, it’s very difficult for them to do so. As a result, parents have fewer educational options for their children, and it’s impossible for most parents to afford them. In a government-hampered education marketplace — where government subsidizes and regulates most primary and secondary education — there are fewer schools in the private marketplace than there would be, way fewer schools. This drives down supply relative to demand and increases tuition costs. It’s the exact same with medicine.

If I understand this, surely Donald Trump — an extremely experienced businessman — understands it. So why the socialism, Donald, when it comes to medical care?

Says Trump: “You can’t let the people in this country that are the poor people, the people without the money and resources go without healthcare,” Trump told the MSNBC program. “I just can’t even imagine. You’re sick and you can’t even go to a doctor. I say one thing, can you not let 25 percent of the people of the country because they have no money go without something?”

By what moral right does the government force any percentage of the population to pay for the goods and services of the rest of the population? Isn’t that slavery? If not, then why is it slavery to enforce involuntary servitude in some cases, but not in others?

In his comments, Trump ignores the non-existence of a free market in medicine. He rightly decries a situation where millions of people cannot afford health care. But he ignores the fact that there’s no free market for health care. He’s correct that it isn’t morally right to expect people to fend for themselves in a medical marketplace largely subsidized and almost completely controlled by the government; but he’s not morally right when he proposes the involuntary servitude of socialism in place of opening up and liberalizing the marketplace for health care.

If Trump were a free market advocate who really understood free markets, he’d propose something like this: Go ahead and leave the programs we have in place. Phase them out with a time limit. People will know that Medicaid, Obamacare and even Medicare (headed for bankruptcy anyway) will be gone at a certain point. Totally deregulate the marketplace. Liberalize and “decontrol,” from permitting insurance to be sold across state lines, to allowing hospitals, doctors and nurses to do anything they wish (Google articles on concierge primary healthcare, for just one example) — outside of fraud or objective malpractice — on behalf of making money at helping their patients. Let innovation and meeting individual consumer demand reign.

Phasing out government involvement in healthcare would allow people to become thinking, planning and functioning consumers in health care, permitting the free market to work and make health care affordable for more or less everyone. It happens with groceries, computers, and cell phones all the time. (Those markets are hampered with invalid regulations and subsidies too, but they are much freer than the field of medicine.)

Will some still be unable to afford health care, even in a totally deregulated free market? Of course. That will always be the case. Some will be unable to afford it because of their own negligence and lack of self-responsible planning; while others will be unable to afford it, through no fault of their own. Either way, they will have to rely on charity (or family/friends), and there’s nothing wrong with that. The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to have your health insurance, or anything else, paid for by others, without their consent. Even if you read the Constitution that way, you have no moral basis for imposing servitude on others in this way. One person’s (actual or merely claimed) need does not serve as a noose on the neck of another — not unless you subscribe to the ideology of Marxism.

Barack Obama is a former humanities/law professor and a retired community service organizer (essentially, a social worker). It comes as no surprise that he’s basically a Marxist, because the vast majority of people in these fields are socialists or Marxists of some kind. Donald Trump, on the other hand, has been operating in the world of a hampered free market economy for his entire life. In many respects, he understands these principles. But when it comes to health care, he’s morally and economically helpless to grasp what even a layperson can often freely see and understand.

I get that Trump’s popularity right now largely arises from his willingness to speak candidly and frankly about matters people normally won’t address, out of fear of political incorrectness or anything else. Like many others, I sometimes cheer him on, particularly when he’s right, as in the case of Obama’s giveaway to Iran, or the reckless obscenity of disarming soldiers on their own military bases. But being candid and refreshing is not enough. You have to be accurate as well — or at least somewhat accurate. On medicine, Trump could not be more wrong.

It’s unclear where Donald Trump, in the event of his election to the presidency, would attempt to take America on health care. Based on his statements, we can only assume he’d work to repeal our present system and simply have single-payer insurance for all. That’s the only alternative we have left to the present system; the only alternative to a free and unregulated market, that is.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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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