Is State Monopoly or Cartel Health Care Slavery?

From an anarchist perspective, there are a huge number of problems with Senator Rand Paul, who’s obviously no anarchist — but when he’s at least partly right, he’s at least partly right. Paul is currently the focus of some controversy for a remark in which he equated statist “universal health care” with slavery.

Anarchists don’t have to be fans or supporters of statists, such as Rand Paul, in order to acknowledge when they might be correct about a narrow point. Rather, such presents an opportunity to drive a wedge into the conversation and expand that narrow point into a discussion of the merits of complete liberty — anarchy.

When one says people have a “right” to something, one is saying that they may justifiably compel others via force to provide it. Thus, the only authentic rights (from a libertarian or anti-slavery perspective, anyway) are those to what’s called “negative liberty“, which ask only that one be provided with tolerance by the exercise of forebearance, rather than provided with material goods and services. Otherwise, one is contending that one may justifiably use force to compel others to provide one with goods and services. That’s slavery and taking note of that is not so much a point of ideology so much as just straightforward semantics.

But the grave flaws of a statist social-democratic or corporatist approach to health care provision are only part of the story. Ignoring the rest of the story, as Rand Paul does, does a disservice to his own efforts to argue against statist approaches to health care provision. Why? Because such leaves open the question of how the manifest injustice of unaffordable health care (or similar problems that advocates of “positive liberty” point to) can be addressed.

It doesn’t have to be that way, because the answer is actually quite simple. Systemic social problems, such as unaffordable health care, derive from existing infringements of negative liberty. They can be addressed by a more comprehensive embrace of the ideal of negative liberty — by moving away from statism, not toward more.

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