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Yes, Virginia, there will be death panels

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09/10/2009

Death panels? Of course there will be death panels when the deal is done. Not in iterations one or two, when legal alternatives exists. But in the end, under total state control, death panels will exist — they must exist.

A death panel implies an agency that functions as the final arbiter of life and death. Such a panel can only exist where no legal alternatives are available. In the first go-around, some agency (or agencies) will have the power and mission to limit care under certain conditions — even the state must accept a world of scarcity. However, folks will still have market alternatives. These alternatives will not be free — they never are. But they will exist, nonetheless.

Of course, once state control is complete, the agency will function as a death panel, or a life panel — depending on your viewpoint, of course.

The agency will likely have a doublespeak name, something like the People’s Health Agency. The agency will be deemed a provider of healthcare, not a denier of the same. So, for some, the agency will not be a death panel. But for many, this agency will limit lifesaving care. It will have to. For these folks, the agency will not provide. And with no alternative available, the agency’s decision will be final, and it will be fatal.

The talk of death panels just around the corner is overblown rhetoric. But those very same panels are over the horizon, on the path sought by many.

My short term fear is not death panels per se. My fear is the collective’s fleeting memory of liberty. Just as folks today cannot imagine my state without an income tax (though the tax is only 37 years old), folks tomorrow will soon forget that the market can supply healthcare. And that means I will watch my children move one step closer to total state control of their healthcare — their lives. And that scares me.

Note: Today we have a model for a death panel: the FDA. This organization keeps lifesaving drugs from the market — all in the name of health and safety. The belief that the state will not crack a few eggs to benefit the collective omelet is utter nonsense.

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