You may think the debate over health care has been settled, that we have been saved from the imposition of socialized medicine, but you are wrong. During Clinton’s first term, statists made a frontal assault against freedom and lost, for the moment, when they made their attempt to pass Clinton’s health-care plan, but they are already back with the tactics they have used so successfully over the past few decades: the incremental approach, those "small" legislative steps which will eventually bring us socialized medicine. Unless they are stopped, they will continue to gain the acceptance of those "small" steps and they will eventually succeed in their efforts to socialize medicine and enslave doctors and you.

Actually, statists started us down the road to socialized medicine over 30 years ago with one of those "small" steps, the creation of Medicare in 1964. That action and others that followed have served as the precedents for further intrusions by the state into the realm of health care. The pattern in health care is the same always seen in the expansion of statism: get that first legislative act which restricts individual freedom in some area, then use that act as the precedent for the next restriction and the next, until the statists have total control over a certain area of your life. Once having achieved that, they set their sights on another once-free area of individual life. And this process goes on endlessly, like some cancer eating away at your body, until the decomposition of freedom is complete.

The process we have seen in the case of health care is another illustration of why compromise, taking the middle ground, not only doesn’t work, but it actually promotes and advances the cause of statism. By compromising—that is, accepting those "small" steps—you endorse the basic premises of the statists and, in this case, of socialized medicine. Once that happens, the opponents of socialized medicine are reduced to delaying tactics, only arguing about the degree of socialized medicine we will have (not whether we will have it), how we are going to pay for it or how quickly we put doctors and patients in the straitjacket of statism.

Now, let’s examine one of those "small" steps taken toward socialized medicine: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, an appalling act that has dealt another body blow to individual freedom. This Act is notable on many counts, not the least of which is the fact that it has exterminated more individual freedom through countless new regulations over health care, that it is over 71,000 words (about 24,000 words less than this book) of obscurity, non-objectivity, murky sentences and ill-defined terms, including yet another form of "abuse," for which there are criminal penalties of jail and fines, as well as forfeiture of property: health-care "abuse." We have already seen how statists have used the vaguely defined term of "abuse" to their advantage in the case of alleged child "abuse," so it doesn’t take any imagination at all to understand what kind of witch hunt statists will soon be conducting in the name of wiping out health-care "abuse." Indeed, this Act has provided, for 1998, $56 million (and increasing to $101 million by the year 2002) to the FBI alone for the investigation of so-called health-care fraud and "abuse." With that amount of money, you can be sure they are going to just have to find an awful lot of this new form of "abuse." How many lives will be terrorized, disrupted and, perhaps, even destroyed through these investigations? Only time will tell, but you can be certain that there will be a growing number of individuals who will be victimized, even imprisoned, as a result of these coming investigations. And what will be one of the results of all of this health-care "abuse" that these investigators will surely find? The discovery of such "abuse" will then lead to statist cries for even more stringent laws to deal with this "abuse" and these laws will lay waste to even more of your freedom.

This atrocious Act is a grim illustration of two fateful points: the manner in which statist regulations create the rising costs in health care and, therefore, the so-called health-care "crisis"—and—it is a frightfully sickening example of the manner in which many conservatives, who are supposedly opposed to socialized medicine, get intellectually sucker punched and end up supporting the basic premises of their opponents (liberal statists) and, in doing so, they take us one very large step toward socialized medicine and then some: they assist in encouraging the wider spread of statism and the resultant destruction of freedom.

This Act mandates, among many other things, that insurance carriers or health-care providers may not deny coverage, except in a limited number of situations, to an individual on the basis of the current state of his health or on the basis of a pre-existing condition. This means the owners, individuals just like you, of insurance companies are now going to be forced, at the point of a government gun, to take on liabilities they would not assume voluntarily—all of which means: one more precedent has been established which declares that you may be forced by the state to take on liabilities you would not assume voluntarily. And this is exactly what is going to happen to you if statists succeed in completing this ongoing process of socializing medicine: you will be forced to assume responsibility for the medical bills of an entire nation.

Suppose you are the owner of a restaurant and the state decided to mandate you must provide meals to individuals who do not have the money to pay for the price of a meal. What would happen? Every bum and freeloader in town would be on your doorstep, eating you out of house and home, and your costs would skyrocket. To remain in business, you would have to raise the price of meals for your paying customers in order to pay for the meals of those who don’t pay. And this is precisely what is going to happen in health care: insurance carriers are going to see a monstrous rise in their costs because they are now going to be forced, at the point of a gun, to pay for the medical care of individuals whose pre-existing conditions had been previously excluded from coverage.

Once these surging costs hit the insurance carriers and health-care providers, they will have no recourse but to sharply raise premiums. (This was written in 1997. Today, in 1998, my prediction has come true: health-care providers, particularly, HMO’s are increasing premiums by 10% to 15%, up more than three-fold since 1997.) Then there will be another outcry by statists that we must "do" something to make health care affordable because, they will claim, these greedy insurance companies are gouging their customers and statists will then enact another round of legislation which will diminish freedom even further—and on and on and on, until they finally have total control over health care and your health and any decisions you or your doctor might make about your health.

These statist brutes, these mindless butchers of freedom, who pushed for the enactment of this Act, were primarily on the Democratic side of the aisles of Congress, yet the mostly conservative Republicans supported them, overwhelmingly. Most Republicans could not and did not oppose this Act because they have become prisoners of their own bad premises, the ideas of statism—they are trapped, intellectually, in their inconsistencies, rendering them impotent to oppose such a measure as this Act. They opposed the original Clinton and Democratic plan to socialize medicine because it was such an open, bold grab for so much power, so quickly, that much of the American public opposed it.

But when it comes to an incremental increase in government power, and to an incremental decrease in liberty, they are disarmed intellectually because they haven’t rejected statism as such: they just don’t want it to go "too far," too fast. And because of this policy of compromise, statism keeps going farther and farther each year, with the pace of its deadly expansion accelerating with each Republican compromise. Undoubtedly Republicans in Congress would oppose an overt, blatant proposal by Democratic statists to abolish freedom altogether, or an attempted coup to establish absolute power, yet they support the eventual accomplishment, inch by inch, of the same thing by these same Democratic statists through their support of such measures as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Contrary to what Emerson declared, inconsistency is the real hobgoblin of little minds—and it is the mechanism by which your freedom will continue to be destroyed as long as Republicans are inconsistent in their defense of your freedom. Until Republicans oppose statism as such, until they declare that the state should not forcibly intrude into health care, or any other aspect of your life, they will continue to be the unwitting, if not witless, allies of those statists who are driving this country straight toward totalitarianism.

And if Republicans finally become consistent in their defense of your right to life and liberty, what will be the charge leveled against them by statists? Statists will trot out that old charge of "extremism" against these Republicans. Consider what the concept of extreme means: it refers to the degree to which something varies from a given and clearly defined standard. For instance, if you have a fever of 105 degrees, this is an extreme temperature, measured against the standard of what your body can normally tolerate in terms of temperature.

When it comes to political debate, to the debate about the validity of certain ideas, there is only one standard: the truth—and when it comes to the truth, there are no degrees—something is either true or it is not—there is nothing in between and, therefore, the concept of extreme does not apply to ideas: ideas are either true or false, but never extreme. There is no such thing as "extreme" truth or "extreme" falsehood; something is only true or false. Many are confused about the latter issue because it is possible for an individual to make a statement which is partly true and partly false, leading them to believe that there are degrees of truth. For instance, someone might declare that it is day and it is night. But the truth of the matter is that, if it is day, then the part of the statement that declares it is day is true and the part of the statement that declares it is night is false—there is nothing in between.

The charge by statists of "extremism" is really nothing more than a means of evading an honest discussion of the issues, a discussion which has no interest to statists: it is an attempt to discredit the person and thereby avoid an honest discussion of the truth of the ideas held by the so-called "extremists." This smear tactic was first used, with great success, by statists in their attacks against Goldwater in the 1964 presidential campaign and since then it has been one of the favorite tools in statists’ arsenal of deceit.

If you declare that an individual’s views are "extreme," then the only rational meaning that can possibly be attached to such an accusation is that those views vary from the views of most. So what? Does such an accusation tell you anything about the truth of the ideas of those who have been charged with "extremism"? No, not at all. Galileo, Edison, Pasteur and our Founding Fathers all held ideas which were radically different from the views of most of their contemporaries—they were all "extremists," if the meaning of that term is that they were upholding ideas which were fundamentally at odds with the views of the majority.

"Extremism" is really an empty charge, one devoid of intellectual content, a charge which only tells you, at best, that the views of those who have been so charged are fundamentally at variance with the views of the majority—and if this is true, then, again, so what? Does this mean these people are wrong? No, it does not. The next time you hear statists charge Republicans with "extremism," you can be sure of this much: those Republicans are getting too close to the truth, a truth statists never want you to understand, too close to a consistent defense of your freedom.

The statist politicians who brought us the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 did so, in large part, by appealing to the fears, ignorance and bad premises of much of the voting public. This, of course, is precisely the tactic used, with evil brilliance, by Hitler in 1933 when the Nazis won a plurality in the Reichstag in the last free elections held in pre-Nazi Germany. In the case of this Act, statists, in part, justified passage of this legislation by cashing in on one particularly bad idea held by too many in this country: the notion that you have a "right" to health care. Recall the meaning of the concept of a right: it is a moral claim to action, not to a thing (unless you have earned that thing)—it is action you may take without the permission of anyone. You do not have a "right" to a home: you simply have the right to be free to earn the money you need to buy a home. You do not have a "right" to a car, you simply have the right to be free to earn the money you need to buy a car if you so desire (and, once you buy it, you then have the right to that particular car you have earned).

Now in what way could anyone possibly have a so-called "right" to health care and what would be the meaning of such a "right"? In actual fact, you do not have a "right" to health care, you simply have the right to be free to earn enough money to pay for your health needs. Do you have the right to burst into your doctor’s office and force him, at the point of a gun, to provide you with free medical care? No, you do not. Do you have the right, with gun in hand, to force your next-door neighbor to pay for your medical care? No, you do not.

But in the statist scheme of things, you have this "right" to health care and the meaning of this "right" is that some surrogate, some gang of statists who controls the government, acting on your behalf, is going to rob your neighbors to pay for your health care and dictate to doctors how they are to practice medicine. You should know, by now, that this is wrong. But let’s turn it around: does your neighbor have the right to come to your front door and demand, at the point of a gun, that you pay for his medical bills? No, he does not.

Now, imagine what it would be like if you were forcibly obligated to pay for the medical bills of more than 265,000,000 Americans, even though all of your neighbors were forced to join in the payment of these bills. You will have become a slave to pay for the needs of others. Is this the future you wish for yourself? Is this the future you wish for your children, if you have any? I doubt it. And if you are to be forced into involuntary servitude to pay for the medical bills of an entire nation, then what about their other needs? What about their need for housing, for food, for clothing? The list can go on endlessly and there will be no end to the list, according to statists, until they have total control over your life.

And if you are one of those Republicans who doesn’t oppose statism as such, but you just don’t want it to go "too far," one of those Republicans who supported the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, how are you going to oppose the yet another proposal (in 1997) by Clinton and his cadre of would-be tyrants? These statists have been advocating that the state provide medical care for millions of children who are allegedly without health insurance. Clinton, in his 1997 State of the Union address, declared: "We must continue, step-by-step (emphasis mine), to give more families access to affordable, quality health care." Clinton is openly acknowledging the tactic statists have used so successfully: the step-by-step approach, an approach which will eventually bring us the total socialization of medicine as long as Republicans continue to support these incremental steps toward that goal.

Well, we didn’t have to wait long for an answer to the question posed in the foregoing paragraph. As part of the 1997 budget deal, Republicans joined statist Democrats in creating a new entitlement program, providing $24 billion for child health care, a program available to all children in families with incomes up to $50,000. One of the more odious statists, Senator Edward Kennedy, boasted that this program is "a major step forward" toward national health insurance—and indeed it is. This is one more step toward socializing medicine, a step supported by Republicans who are seemingly incapable of refusing to participate in the piecemeal destruction of freedom. Many more steps like this and what remains of freedom in health care will soon be gone.

These statists who wish to regulate your health care are the very ones who have passed stringent laws requiring manufacturers to accurately identify on labels their products' contents, yet they do not adhere to the same requirement for their legislative blueprints. In fact, their plans should be imprinted with the following warning: "This legislation is hazardous to your health, wealth and liberty."

In reality, statist legislation, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, to regulate health care is anti-reason, anti-life, anti-freedom and anti-health care.

Each individual has two choices: deal with others by means of reason and persuasion—or—by means of force. Most of us, in our daily lives, utilize persuasion to gain the voluntary cooperation of others. If you are like most, it would never even occur to you to pick up a gun and force another individual to do something against his will, no matter how badly you wanted or needed that person to do something you wanted him to do. But, as we have already seen, there are two groups of individuals who do pick up that gun to compel others to act against their wishes: the criminal and the statist politician. Can either claim to be a proponent of reason? No, absolutely not: those who initiate force against you use it instead of reason in their dealings with you. In fact, statists, through their mandatory regulation of your health care and other areas of your life, outlaw reasoned, voluntary cooperation among individuals in those areas covered by their regulations—they make reasoned, voluntary cooperation and exchange between yourself and others criminal, subject to penalties of fines or jail or forfeiture of property, in the areas covered by their legislation. Are you going to be asked to participate voluntarily in their plans? Are you going to be left free to follow your own reasoned judgment about your health care? No, you are going to be ordered, forced to do what they tell you to do, whether you like it or not.

Con artists, through and through, these statists attempt to camouflage their actions under a veneer of civility and legality by calling their use of force "mandates" and "regulations." They seek to hide from you the fact that they are initiating force against you—they seek to hide from you that their use of force is fundamentally the same as that used by some criminal—and they succeed in hiding it from you because their use of force is legal, while the criminal’s use of force is illegal—and the fact that their use of force is legal has obscured in the minds of most the manner in which statists use force against them. But the truth is this: legalizing a criminal’s use of force does not make it right, yet this is exactly what statists have done—they have legalized the initiation of force by the state against you, an initiation of force which is no different, in principle, than the force used by a criminal.

If you are committed to reason in your dealings with others, you use force only in self-defense. However, for the statist politician (or the criminal), it is specifically the initiation of force which serves as his substitute for persuasion. The statist’s use of "persuasion" (translation: chicanery) is to convince enough voters to grant him the power he seeks to wield over others. (And, as noted earlier, the criminal is more honest than the statist politician: at least the criminal doesn't attempt to disguise his use of a gun nor does he attempt to delude his victim into thinking he is using force for the victim's own good.)

If statist politicians were open about their methods, your Congressman would simply appear at your door and demand, at gunpoint, money to pay for your neighbor's medical bills, and such action would be almost universally condemned. Yet most remain blind to the fact that when a bunch of statist politicians, in the name of some supposedly noble goal, enact legislation requiring the use of government force to take your money (and your freedom, to boot), it is force just as surely as if the Congressman was on your doorstep with a gun in his hand.

The issue in health care is not whether it is desirable for my neighbor to receive good medical care. Obviously it is. The issue is: do you have the right to live your life without being forced to pay for your neighbor's medical care? Does the individual doctor have the right not to treat you if he doesn't want to do so? If the answer is no, then we are to eventually become slaves. If the answer is yes, then we will live as free individuals, associating with one another voluntarily and by means of reason.

As if it were Halloween in reverse, statists, like some devil in human shape, masquerade behind a civilized mask whose face is supposed to be reason and compassion, but it hides a gun-toting monster underneath which offers you a "treat" (medical care) if you fall for the trick (your enslavement). Let's strip away this false covering and openly recognize their plans for what they are: force and coercion, not reason. Make them openly declare their goals and methods. Their goal is your subjugation. Their method is the initiation of government force against you.

Two critical activities sustain an individual's life: thought and physical action. If, alone in some wilderness, you were suddenly rendered unconscious, incapable of thought or action, you would perish within days. If you were suddenly paralyzed, still capable of thought but unable to take physical action, you would perish within days. As a living being with volition, you must be free to think and free to act upon the results of that thinking in order to sustain your life—this is the central fact which gives rise to your right to life and liberty, your right to live your life by your own judgment, your right to live your life as you see fit without having force initiated against you by others. You must be free to act upon your thinking, thinking which is needed to gain the knowledge needed for you to guide your actions in your life. And those statist plans that rob you of your freedom of action are, in fact, anti-life: they are forcibly placing barriers between your mind and the actions you think are needed to sustain your life.

The initiation of force, either by a criminal or a statist politician, effectively puts you in the position of the person who has been abruptly paralyzed: you are still conscious, still able to think, but no longer free to take action on that thinking, that specific action forbidden by force. Now you must figure out how to survive by taking some action other than the one based on your original thinking, some action that is still legally permitted. As more and more laws are enacted which forcibly forbid more and more actions, your options for survival are increasingly restricted, threatening your ability to sustain your life.

The anti-life nature of the statists' scheme for health care could not be more clear, in spite of their alleged concern for the care of your health. In the case of the relationship between you and your doctor, nothing could be more important than freedom of action in the life-and-death decisions that must be made by both of you. If you and your doctor are prohibited, by government force, from taking those actions required, in your and your physician's judgment, to save your life, what could be more life threatening?

Today, in 1997, we have the case of the man who is going blind because he is unable to use a drug forbidden by the government. Most tragically, with current government restrictions in place, we already have individuals dying because they and their physicians are not free to use certain drugs or certain medical procedures and because of regulations on the pharmaceutical industry. Today, we have tearful patients before Congressional committees pleading for permission—permission—to use some drug which might save them from some life-threatening disease.

Think of the meaning of this. We have the outrageous situation of individuals begging the government for permission for them and their physicians to have the freedom to take the steps needed to save their lives. The state should never have this kind of power over the individual. And statists are seeking to increase that power, not decrease it. If you were faced with some life-threatening disease, wouldn’t you want the freedom to choose some treatment, even if it is experimental, which might save your life? Would you want some damned government bureaucrat to hold the power over whether you live or die? On some distant day in the future when you have contracted some life-threatening disease, will you be begging the state for your very life, pleading for permission to use some drug or some medical procedure that might save your life? We are already more than halfway down the road to socialized medicine. And if the statists are successful in their final push to socialize medicine, how many more of you will die? This question is not hyperbole. It is already happening today. No, your life and health are most certainly not the real concern of these statists.

The fact that the statists' approach to health care is anti-freedom is obvious. Only someone who volunteers to be a brain donor could conclude otherwise. We most certainly are not going to gain any freedom under any legislation further regimenting health care. We most certainly are going to lose a significant portion of our individual freedom if any more measures restricting your freedom regarding health care pass Congress.

A common statist trick is to blame some group of private citizens for the ill consequences statist programs have created. The pattern is this: the state enacts a regulation—it creates a problem—the statists blame the private sector and claim a new law is needed to solve the problem, the very problem created by the original regulation—the new regulations creates even more problems, prompting statists to cry for even more regulations to solve the problems created by the last round of regulations—and on and on, ad infinitum and ad nauseam. And this is precisely the pattern we are going to witness in the aftermath of the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. And this same tactic will be used by statists in any future debates over some newly proposed regulation of health care: simply blame the victims of their regulations for the problems, thereby enabling statists to escape the responsibility for their acts and escape any blame from voters.

The original introductions of Medicare, as well as other programs and regulations, have created, over the years, the skyrocketing prices in health care. The statists now blame the doctors, hospitals, insurance and drug companies for the problems created by these programs and regulations. And they will soon present us with another introduction of force (regulations, mandates and taxes) to "solve" the problem.

The problems in health care have not been caused by freedom, but by the lack of it. The appalling state of medical care in the former Soviet Union is the best proof of what happens to health care when individuals are deprived of their freedom. They had "universal coverage" and look at the results.

We currently have the highest quality medical care of any country in the world. This is an incredible feat accomplished by doctors, other health-care professionals, scientists, engineers and businessmen under fire from statists. It is an enormous credit to the ingenuity and indomitable spirit of the individuals in all of these professions who found a way to succeed, not because of government regulations, but in spite of them. And no one can calculate how much farther these individuals would have advanced medical science, over the last few decades, and how many lives might have been saved, if they had not been forcibly prevented, by statists, from pursuing their own judgment.

We need universal coverage of the protection of individual rights and freedom. Then, and only then, will the health-care crisis—the one created by statism—come to an end.

Clinton and the Democrats talk about a "bridge to the future"—a sort of catch phrase to symbolize where they wish to take this country, as it approaches the 21st century—a phrase which is supposed to inspire confidence in and support for the road they wish you to travel in the future, a road which includes their plans for not only socializing medicine but socializing all aspects of your life. Well, you had better take a closer look at this future they have in mind for you and realize this so-called "bridge to the future" is a bridge shrouded in the dense fog of statist rhetoric, fog designed to keep you from seeing that the end of this bridge is one which ends abruptly over the bloody waters of despotism and once we reach that end, you will tumble, helplessly, into this watery grave, as you gasp for your last breath of freedom.