Side effects? I smiled at the UN's choice of words and wondered if, had there been a mass poisoning, would they have written, "Followers of Jim Jones suffer side effects of Cyanide Poisoning"? Just as death is the primary result - not a "side effect" - of Cyanide poisoning, it is also the primary result of socialized medicine - the only difference being that the suffering is more prolonged and more widespread in the latter case. The article begins:
- BUJUMBURA, 9 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - A new policy of free medical care for Burundian mothers and children was intended to improve their lives; instead it has crippled the nation's health system.
Public hospitals in Burundi have recorded double, sometimes triple, the number of patients since a presidential directive for free pediatric and maternal health services was implemented on 1 May. Overcrowded wards, a shortage of doctors and other medical staff, as well as patients' inability to afford prescribed medications are some of the challenges health officials are now facing.
The situation in rural health centers is particularly desperate. In one case, four heavily pregnant women with health complications were referred from a rural clinic to a larger and better-equipped city hospital. However, the facility turned them away because of overcrowding. After local media reported that the women had not been admitted, a senior Ministry of Commerce official ordered that they be taken to a private clinic. Unfortunately, it was too late for one patient: She died as she was being taken there.
The woman's death could have been avoided had procedures been in place to ensure the proper implementation of the directive, health officials said. The public health system was ill prepared to cope with the resultant increase in patients, and subsequently, patients have been let down. The poor services patients were accustomed to paying for may now be free, but the quality of care has declined even further because of the increased caseload and an acute shortage of doctors.
- Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
- Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
- "We saluted the measure, but it seems the government did not plan mechanisms to successfully implement it."
It's not as if the fatal results of socialism are hidden from view - they're written in blood in the annals of history like the skull and crossbones on a bottle of poison. They're visible all around us, even as we speak, yet many people refuse to see. After the death and destruction wrought by socialism in all its forms during the twentieth century, one is forced to ask oneself, can the people who still advocate socialism really be that stupid, or are they evil?
F.A. Hayek wrote of these people in The Road to Serfdom, Chapter 1:
- "When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn - when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect, we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism - we naturally blame anything but ourselves. Have we not all striven according to our best lights, and have not many of our finest minds incessantly worked to make this a better world? Have not all our efforts and hopes been directed toward greater freedom, justice, and prosperity? If the outcome is so different from our aims - if instead of freedom and prosperity, bondage and misery stare us in the face - is it not clear that sinister forces must have foiled our intentions, that we are the victims of some evil power which must be conquered before we can resume the road to better things?
"We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected."
- ... where every man is enemy to every man...wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
The leftists of the world look at the difference between America and Burundi and claim "You Americans were just lucky." They say America's success as a civilization was due to the accident of geography. We had natural ports, abundant timber, arable land, coal, and oil (all stolen from the natives, of course) so their theory goes. But many contries have managed to succeed without all that. Japan has few natural resources to speak of, yet has risen up from a feudal and warlike society to become a great industrial powerhouse. So have other nations like Great Britain, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. One needs only to look at a nighttime map of North/South Korea or compare the life-expectancy numbers of Haiti with those of the Dominican Republic to understand that there are more important factors at work in the rise and fall of civilizations than mere geography.
Some argue, "But America is rich and Burundi is poor", as if pointing to the disparity somehow explains the reason for it.
Others say the critical issue for the success of nations is race - another theory which Thomas Sowell has eloquently disproven in his trilogy on race and culture.
We can see that human progress is not automatic; Some civilizations never rise from a Hobbesian existence. Some rise, then fall back - great civilizations like America can and do decline. So how did the successful nations become successful? The answer to the question of what moves nations is obvious: Philosophy.
For an individual or a nation to survive and prosper requires more than good intentions - it requires good philosophical choices in the beginning, and constant maintenance afterwards. The specific conditions humans need to live must be consciously identified, and a system of government created to protect those conditions from barbarians outside the walls and criminals within. It requires constant weeding out of poisonous ideas that would destroy the good.
Yes, Burundi is poor. So was America once, but 230 years ago our ancestors resolved that freedom (or liberty) was the single essential factor in human progress - an idea that many modern Americans seem to have forgotten...and most of Africa has yet to discover. Our founders were the first in history to put down in writing that individuals - by their nature - need to be free. That ideas leads to the meaning of a right: Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are all requirements of human nature, which is why they are called rights.
Americas' founders also correctly identified that the only way a right could be violated was by the use of force by outsiders, criminals, or by the government itself. So they created a strictly limited government who's only legitimate function was to protect individual rights from violation by outsiders (Hence, the Military), criminals (the Courts), and the government itself (enumerated powers). The idea that "Governments are instituted among men to secure those rights" has served America well.
The Burundians live in country which has had no similar tradition of individual rights. All they have ever known is the law of the jungle where only the strong survive, so they might be excused for not knowing any better. But after experiencing their first taste of UN-style socialism, the Burundians now have a choice - they can refuse to drink any more of that particular poison, and seek better counsel than what certain international organizations and individuals gave them; Or, they can clamor for more poison, as they seem to be doing. The Burundians are already grumbling that their medicine should be free as well as their doctor's care. Like an opiate, the poison of socialism always has the effect of demanding bigger and bigger doses.
I worry about my own Country. Our founders gave us a great gift, but we haven't taken good care of it lately. In the 1930s, our President had the WPA drag the precious gift of limited government out in the back yard where it was set it up on blocks and left to rust like a junk automobile. Weeds have grown up around our once well-taken-care-of house, and broken windows have not been repaired. Our courts have blasted big holes in our Constitution - the very roof that protects us - and allowed jungle law to creep in. All the while, we Americans have been so busy that for the most part we didn't notice what was going on around us. We have forgotten how bad living in the jungle can be and I wonder if we can ever get our houses back in order before it's too late.
Time is short, but we Americans still have a choice; We are still free to speak and to act. Our elected representatives do listen to us when we make ourselves heard in large enough numbers. If we remain silent, though, how long will it be before the "Shining city on the Hill" becomes a disheveled group of mud huts and our lives once again become "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short?"
People should seriously consider the different philosophical paths that were taken by America and Burundi, and the end results. They should also consider whether it is wise for America to reject the system that made us a shining star in the world of medicine and adopt the system of "free" clinics, long lines, shortages, run-down facilities, and fleeing doctors that Burundi is now burdened with.
I say, "Let's not let America's health-care system (or America herself) go down without a fight". Don't be discouraged when you can't cure the philosophical poisoning of America all at once; In any epidemic, a doctor can only cure one patient at a time and in this case, the treatment is simple: Never miss an opportunity to inform the honest, or to expose and condemn the evil.