Article contributed by “The Ed”
Last June, I came back from the doctor’s office with an A1C of 8.6%. Hopefully, that number means nothing to you. For me it meant my average blood sugar was about twice what is considered normal and that I had sugar in my urine.
I am no hero. Prospects of heart disease, kidney disease, vascular disease, blindness, limb loss and all the other diabetic complications scare me. But as someone with a genetic condition that causes my hands to tremble, the thought of giving myself daily injections of insulin really wigs me out.
I was motivated to avoid medication. I got rid of all soft drinks, fruit juices, anything that puts sugar in my mouth. I got rid of starches as well – rice, corn, wheat, potatoes, any products made from grains. I wanted to cry. But it worked. My A1C dropped to 5.4%, normal. There were other benefits. My cholesterol dropped to normal. My triglycerides dropped from 172 to 75. And I lost 50 pounds. All of this was done without drugs.
I talked to other Type II diabetics about this. And almost to a person they said that they would never do anything so draconian even though some were already showing signs of diabetic complications. I’d point out the national costs which are more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they know their diabetic destinies better than I do. They know the death rates and injury rates as well as I do. Nevertheless, most said they do not want to restrict their intake of sugar and other carbohydrates. I wish them well. Whether they choose a restrictive diet or the drugs that medicine has to offer, their life will be draconian from now on. Still, I care. Every once in a while I find someone who will listen.
The freedom to choose carries with it the responsibility to bear the consequences.
Just as a diabetic cannot sustain a life of indulgence with cake and cookies, the Federal Government cannot sustain a budget of overspending. Both can overindulge themselves into oblivion. So why would I wish the diabetic well but rail against our Federal Government? Here’s the ethical difference: The diabetic brings down himself. He has to bear the consequences of his behavior. When the Federal Government overindulges in spending, every fiscally responsible person in this nation bears the consequences. This comparison brings to light one of the principles of the marriage between freedom and responsibility. Freedom allows you to be indulgent in decisions involving yourself. It does not allow you to be indulgent in decisions that involve others.
So do I, as a diabetic, have the right to burden the rest of you with my medical bills? Doesn’t insurance allow me to burden others with my medical bills? Yes, but:
- I have an obligation to my fellow policy holders to hold down the costs that I share with them.
- I do not have the right to contract diabetes and then buy insurance to cover my medical costs.
- I have to accept the fact that as I get older my risks are higher and my insurance costs are going to go up.
Does the government have the right to force tax payers to bear the cost of my medical care? When I was in the Armed Forces it did. That was part of the payment for service rendered. Government has no right to force taxpayers to pay for anyone’s health insurance except as part of services rendered – an exchange of value for value. Any policy to do otherwise is indulgence by big brother and should not be permitted.
But does this same ethical logic apply to Medicare? The argument given is “I paid into Medicare. I should be allowed to collect when I am 65.” Part of me wants to be saying that. It will not be long before I am eligible. But I don’t and here is why:
- In reality, the Medicare tax does not pay for my medical expenses. It helps pay for today’s elderly over 65 years old.
- Medicare taxes are insufficient for today’s elderly. In 2011, Medicare payroll taxes collected $195 billion. Expenditures were $549 billion. Most of the deficit is made up with the general fund. Nothing is there for my future medical expenses or for anyone else who paid into Medicare and feels that they should be allowed to collect too.
- Medicare is a pyramid scheme made legal by Congress. As with any pyramid scheme it works well for the first participants. Later payers are lucky to get pennies on the dollar.
- Legal or not, no pyramid scheme should be allowed to continue.
Medicare should be phased out. It violates the principle of marriage between freedom and responsibility. Yes, this statement is draconian. Sometimes draconian is what is needed.
In the world of man we have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and our own. It is the responsibility that goes along with the right to life. When government forces taxpayers to pay for other citizens’ medical care without receiving just payment, government is prying our right (to life) and its corresponding responsibility (taking care of ourselves and our own) apart. As with any divorce of freedom and responsibility, it may be done with good intentions but has bad consequences.