Mises Wire

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon
< | < | <

Want to Have Less of Something? Make its Provision a "Right"


John Tamny at Forbes cites Mises to explain how the Lone Path to Cheap Healthcare is Expensive Healthcare, and how the path to highly scarce healthcare is state-mandated “free” and “affordable” healthcare.

“Healthcare is not an inalienable right as the Left maintains. How could it be, considering it didn’t even exist until very recently and still doesn’t for much of the world?” – Bill Flax, The Courage To Do Nothing, p. 112

In his 2007 book, A Farewell to Alms, Gregory Clark pointed out about the rich that “their current lifestyle predicts powerfully how we will all eventually live if economic growth persists.” Clark was of course elegantly channeling the thinking of Andrew Carnegie who long ago proclaimed that “Capitalism is about turning luxuries into necessities”, along with Ludwig von Mises who found that “Every advance first comes into being as the luxury of the few rich people, only to become, after a time, the indispensable necessity taken for granted by everyone.” (…)

…the first step to making healthcare a ubiquitous good is to banish forever the notion that it’s a “right.”

The above is essential because anything that is made a “right” will by definition never be. Automobiles don’t dot the global landscape because hapless politicians over 100 years ago deemed them something everyone should own. Instead, cars began as a highly distant luxury enjoyed by the lucky and enterprising few, and because market forces were allowed to prevail, what was once obscure soon enough became pedestrian. (…)

Indeed, as von Mises so helpfully observed, luxury is “essentially historical.” Applying this truth to healthcare, much as cellphones, personal computers and flat-screen televisions were once only gaudy gadgets owned by the rich, entrepreneurs saw profits in all three such that they eventually became commonplace. With medical care, and with an eye on eventually saving a huge number of lives, it’s important that at first doctors only save the lives of those who can afford unique, and very expensive treatment. We must embrace this because as is always the case in the free markets, that which enters the marketplace as obscure eventually becomes a necessity we all take for granted.

Dan Sanchez is a libertarian freelance writer. He is a contributing editor at Antiwar.com, where he writes a regular column, and an independent journalist at Anti-Media. His work has frequently appeared at such websites as Zero Hedge, the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, and David Stockman's Contra Corner. His writings are collected at DanSanchez.me.

Image source:

Add Comment

Shield icon wire