Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ron Paul's Liberty Defined 7: Marriage Policy, Health Care

For my write-up today on Ron Paul's Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom, I'll talk some about Ron Paul's views on marriage policy and health care.

1.  Ron Paul thinks that the federal government should stay out of the marriage business and that gay couples have the First Amendment right to call their union a marriage.  Regarding the argument that gay marriage should be legally recognized so that gay couples can have the same benefits that heterosexual married couples have, Paul states on page 184: "When dealing with government benefits, this becomes an economic redistribution issue----a problem that would not be found in a truly free society" (page 184).

Paul states that the issue of insurance benefits should be solved by voluntary agreement.  In terms of Social Security benefits, Paul says that people could be free to designate whom their beneficiaries would be, as occurs in private insurance, but Paul then calls this approach "expanding a welfare program" (page 184), which, for him, is probably a bad thing.  According to this site, Paul supports private retirement accounts, so perhaps he could argue that, if people were in charge of their own retirement money, they could determine whom their beneficiaries would be.

I do not know enough about the benefits that heterosexual married couples receive to critique Ron Paul's position.  The benefits that relate to government spending or law (at least at the federal level) would probably become a moot point in Ron Paul's libertarian society.  Federal laws that discriminate in favor of heterosexual marriages would be a thing of the past, and people would have charge of more of their own money, and they could then determine for themselves who would benefit from it.  The benefits that pertain to discrimination by private interests would still be a problem in Ron Paul's libertarian society, unless growing tolerance towards homosexuality leads to a lessening of such discrimination.  There are companies, after all, that provide benefits to same-sex couples.

Click here to read about "Ron Paul's "ambivalence on gay issues".

2.  Ron Paul presents typical conservative or libertarian arguments about health care: that health insurance is legally required to cover too much, which is bad because that drives up premiums; that people who have "better health habits" should not have to "pay more to take care of those who don't" (page 191); that there should be tort reform (but Paul also thinks that there should be a means for people to be compensated for doctors' mistakes, without involving the trial lawyers); that government intervention drives up the cost of health care (the same way that the government's defense budget makes a $5 hammer $700); and that a free market will deliver health care at an affordable price, the same way that technological wonders such as the cell phone have become affordable through the free-market.  Paul also believes in a sound monetary policy that will keep down inflation.

For Paul, part of the problem is that the supply of medical care has been restricted.  There is licensing that "strictly limits the number of individuals who can provide patient care" (page 195).  According to Paul, attempts to protect the incomes of doctors and to discriminate against homeopathy resulted in the closing down of medical schools, which occurred since 1910.  Paul affirms on page 196 that "we need to remove any obstacles for people seeking holistic and nutritional alternatives to current medical care", and that "We must remove the threat of further regulations pushed by the drug companies now working worldwide to limit these alternatives."

Again, there are things that I do not know, so I am limited in my ability to evaluate what Ron Paul is saying.  Do private insurance companies discriminate against homeopathy, and, if so, is this due to their choice, or to law?  If the former is the case, then Ron Paul's libertarian society may not help matters, unless there is enough demand for health insurance that covers homeopathy.  Regarding holistic or homeopathic medicine, I know a little bit more, since there were people in my family who owned a health food store, and the FDA sought to ban certain vitamins.

Can Ron Paul's libertarian society bring down the cost of health care?  Many argue that health care is expensive on account of technology, but libertarians have argued that the free market can bring down the price of technology, as has occurred with cell phones.  Perhaps the same could occur with health care technology in a free society.  Unfortunately, I don't see that sort of society coming anytime soon.  As Medicaid expands, however, we may move closer to a single-payer system, and, in terms of health care, that costs less than the system that the U.S. has.

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