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The Tea Party brings you the freedom to die

An extract from the CNN Tea Party debate deep in the heart of Florida last Monday night. Between, amongst others, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Congressman Ron Paul and Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann, ex-Utah governor Jon Huntsman, and former speaker Newt Gingrich. The real “stars”, however, are the audience. When Ron Paul is asked what should happen if a 30-year old uninsured person suddenly needs health care unexpectedly. Eventually the interviewer asks Ron Paul whether that person should simply be left to die. Before he could answer, the audience does, with cries of “Yeah!” and applause. Scary stuff.

Paul Krugman in the New York Times commented how Milton Friedman’s concept of “Free to Chose” (the name of a 1980s TV series in which he identified laissez-faire economics with personal choice and empowerment) has become “Free to die”. He describes the change as follows:

In the past, conservatives accepted the need for a government-provided safety net on humanitarian grounds. Don’t take it from me, take it from Friedrich Hayek, the conservative intellectual hero, who specifically declared in “The Road to Serfdom” his support for “a comprehensive system of social insurance” to protect citizens against “the common hazards of life,” and singled out health in particular…. Now, however, compassion is out of fashion — indeed, lack of compassion has become a matter of principle, at least among the G.O.P.’s base.

The full transcript of the debate in the video is:

BLITZER (interviewer): Thank you, Governor. Before I get to Michele Bachmann, I want to just — you’re a physician, Ron Paul, so you’re a doctor. You know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question. A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

PAUL: Well, in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him. BLITZER: Well, what do you want? PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not be forced — BLITZER: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays? PAUL: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody — (APPLAUSE) BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die? PAUL: No. I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s, when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals. (APPLAUSE)

One Comment

  1. Chris says:

    Aren’t conservatives supposed to believe we all have a duty to each other?

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