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  • Media Fail Marvelously in Mocking Rand Paul for Surgery in Canada, “Land Of Universal Health Care”

    Senator Rand Paul is no stranger to public criticism. As one of the few principled members of Congress and an heir to his father’s legacy of anti-authoritarianism, he has grown accustomed to falling under public scrutiny for standing up for his beliefs. But this week he isn’t being condemned for his foreign policy views or his stance on criminal justice reform. Instead, the progressives have chastised the senator from Kentucky for going outside of the United States for medical treatment.

    When Paul was attacked by his neighbor while doing yard work in 2017, he was left with six broken ribs, a bruised lung, and a hernia, which has since been left unresolved. Needing surgery and being well-versed in the atrocity that is our overpriced and overregulated American health care system, Paul decided to join the 150,000 to 320,000 Americans who travel abroad each year in search of lower costs and high-quality health care. But since the medical facility in question happens to be in Canada, Paul has suddenly found himself a target of those accusing him of utilizing the same socialist system he so fervently decries.

    It wasn’t long after Senator Paul announced his intention to travel to Canada for surgery that the accusations began to make their rounds on social media. Democratic Coalition tweeted, “Oh, the irony: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, one of the fiercest political critics of socialized medicine, will travel to Canada later this month to get hernia surgery.” Likewise, Talking Points Memo also took a jab at Paul when it tweeted, “Rand Paul, enemy of socialized medicine, will go to Canada for surgery.”

    The media also had a field day attacking Senator Paul. Deceiving headlines intended to mislead the public read, “Rand Paul Heading To Canada, Land Of Universal Health Care, For Surgery” and “Sen. Rand Paul Is Having Surgery in Canada, Where Healthcare Is Publicly Funded.” But there is just one major problem with these tweets and headlines: They inaccurately assert that because the senator is traveling to Canada for surgery, he must be utilizing the country’s infamous socialized medical program. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Had any of these overzealous Twitter users bothered to do some research, they would have quickly discovered that contrary to their claims, Senator Paul was not being a hypocrite at all. In fact, staying true to his beliefs, the senator plans to go abroad next week to make use of a top-notch private medical facility that offers competitive rates to patients.

    The Shouldice Hernia Hospital is a private facility in Thornhill, Ontario, that prides itself on being “the global leader in non-mesh hernia repair.” It also offers competitive pricing for those paying out of pocket, which is a huge plus for the uninsured. And since it is private, the facility also has more control over its pricing structure, giving it more autonomy to work with health care consumers.

    Paul, who has likened socialized medicine to slavery and who himself is an ophthalmologist, has always been an advocate for private solutions to our health care woes. And while many would like to condemn this decision to go to Canada as hypocrisy, it is actually right on brand for the senator.

    Kelsey Cooper, a spokesperson for Paul, defended his decision and wrote in an email to the Courier Journal, which broke the story,

    This is more fake news on a story that has been terribly reported from day one—this is a private, world-renowned hospital separate from any system and people come from around the world to pay cash for their services.

    While the media and talking heads continue to waste their breath gossiping about Paul’s personal medical decisions, the senator is demonstrating what a truly free market health care system could look like.

    In an interview with Wave 3 News in Washington, DC, Paul commented on his decision, saying:

    I looked for a place that did primarily that type of surgery. A place that actually accepts Americans who pay cash. It’s a private hospital. The funny thing is, people had an agenda that wanted to attack me said, “Oh, you’re going to choose socialized medicine.” I’m actually choosing capitalistic medicine because they only take cash from foreigners.

    He continued:

    We have some centers like this. Oklahoma has a center like this but doesn’t specialize in the surgery I need. I chose (Shouldice) because they are good at it and actually the price is right.

    Once it was made widely known that Paul would not be partaking in Canada’s socialized medicine, the critics switched to condemning the senator for going outside of the US for treatment, as if doing so was somehow anti-American in nature. And while many are using this instance as a means of shaming Rand Paul, his actions offer a great teaching moment for the country.

    It’s a mistake to view health care as some sort of phenomenon unrelated and immune to the market process. Health care is a commodity just like any other consumer good. And when choice in medical treatment is limited, health care consumers suffer greatly.

    Keeping health care options confined only to one’s own country of origin is an outdated concept. Medical tourism is a booming industry that gives patients more control over their health care by giving them the opportunity to go wherever the best possible care is available at the lowest costs. This has resulted in a boom for countries like India and Costo Rica.

    As I have previously written:

    For anyone unfamiliar with the term, medical tourism is when someone chooses to travel outside their country of origin, usually to less-developed countries, in search of affordable, quality medical care. And it also happens to be one of the fastest growing global industries. In 2016, this burgeoning sector was valued at $100 billion and is expected to experience 25 percent year-by-year growth by the year 2025. And in an era of soaring medical costs, it is saving health care consumers thousands of dollars and providing them with the care they so desperately need.

    The thought of traveling abroad for health care might scare a fair number of Americans. After all, we tend to think our own medical system as more advanced than others. But the truth is that excessive government regulation has actually stifled medical innovation and caused the cost of treatment to skyrocket. And while American politicians argue about how to best fix this problem, other countries have been innovating and relaxing regulations in order to offer competitive care to medical tourists.

    In India, for example:

    [T]he critically acclaimed Narayana Hrudayalaya heart hospital offers cardiac surgeries from $5,000- $7,000. The same surgery in the US would cost a patient upwards of $50,000. And as far as other medical procedures are concerned, in Costa Rica, a knee replacement surgery can cost a patient around $23,000. However, the same surgery, obtained in the US can cost anywhere from $35,000-$60,000.

    The dramatically lower costs have encouraged some US employers to encourage their employees to seek treatment outside the country rather than use their insurance policies to see an American doctor. For employees who need knee replacement surgery, Hickory Springs Manufacturing began offering a choice: pay $3,000 dollars out of pocket and have the procedure performed in the United States, or opt to take an all-expenses-paid vacation to Costa Rica for the surgery instead. And on top of the free trip, you will also receive a $2,500 bonus check. Since switching to this model, the company has saved more than $10 million on health care costs.

    The free market is not constrained to the political borders of one’s own country. And in order to have a robust health care market full of choice, consumers need to be able to go wherever the best care is available. Senator Rand Paul’s decision to go to Canada for surgery should not be condemned; rather, it should inspire the rest of the country to take a look at all the medical options available to us.

    Source: Media Fail Marvelously in Mocking Rand Paul for Surgery in Canada, “Land Of Universal Health Care” – Foundation for Economic Education




  • No, Rand Paul Didn’t Have It Coming

    I read Elie Mystal’s article on Rand Paul’s assault, which suggests such violent encounters are the inevitable result of libertarianism in practice. He makes two errors. First, he contends Rand Paul ignores the rules of his HOA based on his libertarian philosophy. Second, he contends basing a legal framework on the libertarian non-aggression principle (NAP) is unworkable.

    Private Contracts

    Regarding the first error, libertarianism is based on the sanctity of voluntary contracts. An HOA is a perfect example of what libertarians would replace zoning regulations with – an enforceable contract voluntarily entered into by every individual, instead of a set of rules imposed on the whole by a supposed majority. Mystal conflates voluntary contracts with regulations near the end of his piece, writing, “Rand Paul’s broken ribs are a g**damn case study in why we need regulations.” This begs the question, “Why do we need regulations, rather than just enforcement of the HOA?”

     

    Neither Mystal nor I know the terms of Rand Paul’s HOA contract, but if they prohibit either pumpkin patches or compost heaps, then Rand Paul appears to be in violation of that contract. Libertarians would side with the HOA, not Rand Paul. However, the HOA contract also provides penalties for violation of the terms, which I’m fairly certain don’t include bum-rushing him and breaking his ribs.

    This all assumes there is any truth to reports Senator Paul used his property in ways his neighbors found offensive, whether compliant with the letter of his HOA agreement or not. Several of his neighbors have come forward since Mystal’s piece was written to refute those reports.

    Even in the absence of a written agreement, libertarians recognize longstanding local conditions as binding on new property owners. Thus, I cannot come into a quiet community and build an airport on my land, subjecting my neighbors to the noise and other inconveniences of having an airport border their land. By the same token, I cannot buy the land next to an existing airport and then demand the airport stop making noise or doing the other things an airport must do to conduct its business. This principle extends to all sorts of questions, including air pollution, zoning, etc. Murray Rothbard wrote about this concept many times. Here is an example.

    The Non-Aggression Principle

    Second, Mystal’s article includes this passage:

    You can do what you want and I can do what I want and, so long as we’re not hurting anybody, the government can do nothing.” It’s… cute, as theories of social interactions go. It’s not a workable basis for law and governance.

    I would refer the writer to this passage from Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural address:

    With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. [emphasis added]

    In fact, Jefferson reiterated the NAP as the basis for law and governance many times over the course of his life. Examples include thisthis and this.

    Rather than a “cute theory of social interaction,” the NAP was the guiding principle of American liberty for well over a century until Woodrow Wilson specifically called it out as no longer adequate for what he considered too complex a society for the NAP to govern. Libertarians disagree with Wilson. Mystal may not. But it would be a much more valuable discussion if libertarianism would at least be represented correctly when criticized, rather than presented in the cartoonish fashion our sound bite media so often resort to.

    Reprinted from tommullen.net


    Tom Mullen

    Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? and A Return to Common  Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America. For more information and more of Tom’s writing, visit www.tommullen.net.

    This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.