Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Case For Freedom in Medicine

The following is a quote from Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. I copied this paragraph once before, but I think the theme of this paragraph needs to be read, digested and understood now, more than ever before. Medicine is perishing in an orgy of government regulation and theft. Doctor Hendricks, a character in the book who goes on strike against government usurpation of his freedom and his medical judgment, tells why he decided to strike:

"I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything--except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, only 'to serve.' That a man who's willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards--never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind--yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on the operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in their operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it--and still less safe, if he's the sort who doesn't."
This statement, along with several other statements made by the striking men of the mind in the novel, crystallize the thoughts of every productive individual who's given it the proper degree of thought. Everyone who works for a living, and realizes that he'd take home roughly twice as much pay, but for the extortion of the slave masters in government, and that everything he buys would cost less than half what it now costs, but for the taxes and regulations producers of goods and services must endure, will see how Dr Hendricks' decision will apply to himself. Then, he must decide how long he'll live and work under the slavery of the parasite.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


MK said...

"Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it."

The consequence is that in the process of screwing over the doctors and nurses, they also stuffed the welfare of the patients, i would argue that these folks never considered the welfare of the patients in the first place.

MK said...

Here's one example of it CH.

Col. Hogan said...

We have stories like that over here, too. Way too often.
Good physicians are still good physicians, but they go to the wealthy neighborhoods and staff the best hospitals. They specialize and command very high fees. Then, they retire early because they've had a bellyfull of government regulations, and are replaced by young physicians who are not their equals.

Medicine over here isn't fully socialized yet. If it becomes so, I'll no longer be able to select an elite Brentwood/UCLA doctor. I'll get a second-rate doctor who was admitted to med school over a better candidate because of his minority race.

Aurora said...

This is Rand at her finest and what I love about her. She has a keen sense of injustice and a refusal to be pushed around by the unscrupulous PC garbage around us. Of course she's absolutely right about the robbery of the socialist parasitic system.

T. F. Stern said...

You picked the same picture I used back in July when I had my surgery (s). The simple proceedure was not simple after all. Medical Practice, the have to practice a lot to get it right.

Col. Hogan said...


What the character Dr Hendricks said applies to all of us. Those of us that are productive (each in his own way) could be far more productive were we allowed to use our minds without restriction, and could keep the results of our endeavors.

Col. Hogan said...


Yes, I remember that, now that you mention it. Great minds think alike, eh?

Above all, I'm happy that you weathered the storm and came out of it in good health.

MK said...

Yeah Hillary may not be pushing her socialized medicine right now, but i don't believe she's suddenly rejected her socialist ways. Merry Christmas CH and to your readers.

Aurora said...

Col., I believe that socialism in all its forms is one of the biggest destroyers of individual greatness there is. It's a way to cut down all the tall poppies to a sea of grass with one big weed ruling over the whole thing.