Danger for the Doctors

By:  Robert Welch

Doctors or physicians and socialized medicineThis material, is excerpted from an essay by Robert Welch, which served as his "Foreward" to the June 1970 Bulletin of The John Birch Society. His arguments against government-run health care, such as our present-day ObamaCare, are still valid. Welch noted in the February 1976 JBS Bulletin that "There are more physicians and surgeons who belong to The John Birch Society than people who earn their daily bread in any other way." This tendency for doctors to become Americanist boosters was attributed to the fact that the hard-working physician was "more inclined to be an individualist instead of a collectivist...." In addition, the financial independence and high degree of respect earned by the doctor was seen by Robert Welch as protecting the physician from "outside views and pressures."

Traditionally, the doctor earned the trust of his patient through his reputation for competent professional care. There was no role for government in their relationship, for whenever the state intrudes into private affairs, professionalism suffers. And loss of freedom soon follows.

The socialists, of all generations and of any country, just love to pick on  the medical profession. For in that area they are able to make almost every impractical and self-defeating idiocy which they propose sound nobly humanitarian. You wouldn't want some poor child to die of tuberculosis, would you, just because his father can't get a job? And voluntary charity by individuals or organizations — why that is degrading to the beneficiary! But involuntary charity, forced on a total people by their government, oh that would be a virtuous solution indeed. So let's have nationalized medicine to provide adequate treatment for everybody who needs it.

Of course, a nationalized medical system also provides free spectacles, and free heating pads, and free drugs of every variety, and free false teeth, and free babysitters for harassed mothers who fear that they are about to  become mentally sick from looking out for their offspring (seriously!), and goodness knows what else for ebullient freeloaders of every description. It  does so at the expense of those who work hard enough to get jobs and to hold them, and thus pay the taxes to support all of this largesse for which government claims the credit. But those considerations, you understand, are entirely irrelevant!

There are, however, several other flies in the mercurochrome, and one of them is sizable. For in the benighted days and ways that made America great, a simple truth prevailed. The regular payment of the doctor's fee by the individual recipient of the doctor's service — in other words the plain old law of supply and demand — acted as a normal regulator on the number of doctors and the amount of medical service available. But under a nationalized health service that regulator is removed. Without it, there is an uncontrolled flood into the system of people who do not really need medical treatment at all.

Since the doctors must now give their attention to everybody on a first-come first-served basis, the really sick people, who actually need immediate medical service, usually cannot get it. But the socialists have a precooked answer all ready to apply to all such problems. Whenever government meddling interferes with the proper working of the free market, the remedy is simply to introduce still more government meddling and controls. So all of the overflow of applicants for free medical service will easily be taken care of, we are told, by something "variously called multiphase screening, health evaluation, and diagnosis" of those who get in line for the doctor's services. And if this attempt to divide the sheep from the goats does not still further overload the dispensary, then somebody really has changed human nature since we went to bed last night. 

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One of the complaints now being so continuously hammered into the public consciousness is that there is an increasing shortage of physicians. Of course there is. Why wouldn't there be, under the circumstances? And if nobody else will say it for us, we make the serious accusation that this is primarily because the federal government, and especially its department of Health, Education and Welfare [HEW, forerunner of the Department of Health and Human Services], has planned it that way. We repeat: To create the beginnings or the appearance of an emergency of this kind was one sure way to make it easier for the government to institute drastic measures leading toward its goal of socialized medicine.

What's more, this shortage is expected, and intended by HEW, to become worse. For the same reason and purpose. Does anybody think you are going to lure more able and responsible young men into the medical profession by programs which are designed to convert them — after years of study and apprenticeship in one of the most exacting of all scientific disciplines — into salaried government clerks instead of independent practitioners of a noble profession?

The socialists count, correctly, on the American people being gullible, soft hearted — and soft headed — with regard to every aspect of sociology. But the socialists are also confident, correctly, that despite this propensity, their planned shortage of physicians will increase. Not enough young men are going to be big enough fools to upset this plot, by heading straight into the kind of economic and political slavery which has been planned for them. You will begin to have a lot more able young men entering the medical profession as soon as you have less — instead of more — interference with that profession by government.

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