On October 4 I chaired a seminar, for first-year medical students at Duke University, on Health Care Reform and Individual Rights. My contention is that any meaningful, proper proposal for health-care reform must recognize and defend the rights of doctors to practice medicine as they deem fit, in voluntary, contractual agreement with their employers and patients. Students (and the public) rarely hear this point of view–it was almost entirely missing from the debates over the passage of Obamacare. It should not be surprising that such a defense is entirely missing from the bill, and that the bill massively undermines such rights.
For a sample of the ideas at the forefront of this seminar, see a lecture I gave in 2009 to Duke medical students:
On September 29 I had the pleasure of visiting friends and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, and offering a lecture on Israel’s Moral Right to Self-Defense–and to Exist. What does it mean for a nation to have the moral right to exist? was the opening salvo. But I laced this argument with experiences I had while traveling through Israel–where in Tel Aviv I met women in Muslim dress, saw a mosque under renovations, and bought fruit from Arabs selling at an outdoor market. I reflected on the rejection, by Arab leadership, of the “two-state” partition agreement in November 1947, and the state of war declared against Israel on its founding in 1948. There was some push-back from a few members of the audience, who did not wish to grasp what it means to live under such a declared state of war, and who failed to condemn the suicide bombing of Mike’s place or indoctrination of preschool-aged Palestinian children into jihad. I was amazed at those who claimed that Israel was wrong because so few of its people have died in wars–as if an attack on a sovereign nation should be understood by counting bodies. But the evening was enlightening to me, and energizing, since I was always learn something from such exchanges, even from (or at times especially from) adversaries. Two and a half fruitful hours at the podium.
The day after I toured a steel processing plant and a defense contractor’s research and development labs, had lunch on the banks fo the Mississippi River, and took a boat ride on one of the state’s beautiful lakes. Thanks to everyone in Minnesota for making this possible!
On patrol at Duke Medical Center, achieving a medical victory!
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“John David Lewis has offered a superb appraisal of how ancient and modern wars start and finish. This chronicle of some 2,500 years of Western history is replete with a philosophical analysis of why nations fight, win—and lose. His insights and conclusions are original and fearless—as well as timely and welcome in the confused war-making of the present age.”
—Victor Davis Hanson, author of Carnage and Culture
“This book’s argument is powerful and provocative, and Lewis is a good storyteller and scholar. Ambitious, stimulating, and thoughtful, this book makes a strong case for the value of the strategic offensive, and engages with the kind of problems that everyone should be thinking about today.”
—Barry Strauss, author of The Spartacus War
Other Commentary and Reviews about Nothing Less than Victory:
On May 10, 2010 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine sponsored an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC: Redeeming Reform: What Health Care Reform Could and Ought to Be.
This video was my contribution to this important event. It is my first public speech since last fall.
My voice may be weak, but the idea is strong: a proper, and moral, health care policy–and proper reform–must begin with the moral conviction that each person’s life belongs to him, not to the state. Each person is individually endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The purpose of government is to secure these rights, not to blast them aside in order to forcibly redistribute the wealth, efforts and lives of the citizens of this nation.
My thanks to Richard Ralston of AFCM for arranging this event, and to the many other participants who have dedicated their efforts to proper health care reform.
What better way is there to return to academic conference life than to visit Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, as part of the Association for Private Enterprise Education?
The highlight for me was to see the magicians Penn and Teller win the Thomas Jefferson Award. Their Las Vegas act–and their Showtime television show “Bullshit” pull no punches about the role of reason in human life. They have taken on the federal government’s increasing grabs for power, demonstrating how the Bill of Rights is incompatible with the Transportation Security Administration. They also go out of their way–with humor, but also with a deadly serious mission–of showing their audiences that all claims to paranormal activity, extra-sensory perception, mind-reading and the like are “lies and immoral.”
So I went to see their Vegas show. The mix of humor with a serious message began with their bringing a full-size, real airport metal detector on stage, and having an audience member walk through it. “Beep beep beep!” The cause? A copy of the bill of rights slipped in his pocket, written on metal, which is incompatible with TSA (“The right of the people to be secure . . . against unreasonable searches and seizures,” from the Fourth Amendment).
I ended up on stage myself, selected to read a joke from a book circulating through the audience. Before the show, a yellow envelope was on stage, and audience members were invited to sign it. Dozens did so. Later, I am brought up on stage with the book, and asked to open it at random, and to read a joke of my choosing to the audience. Don’t worry about the punchline, said Penn–the audience will say it at the right time. I began reading–and as I did, out of my eyesight, Penn opened the yellow envelope, took a white banner out of it, and held it up behind my back–so the audience could read the punchline. I have no idea how they did it–but I know, and their honesty leads them to pound this point home–that it is a trick, and not some supernatural ability.
At the conference I made two presentations. The first, in a History of Thought session, demonstrated how Jean Baptiste Say, the early 19th century economist, upheld the method of induction in his Treatise on Political Economy. For Say, “general truths” (also called principles) are derived from an understanding of the causal relationships between facts. He does not think one gains the truth by counting up hundreds of facts–that, he claims, is the province of Statistics–but rather in grasping the origin and consequences of these facts by grasping their causal relations.
My second presentation was in a session dedicated to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, dealt with the purpose and values of an independent contractor. A relatively minor character, the electrician Mike Donnigan, embodies the mastery of his craft, and the drive to do excellent work, that is central to a producer in the capitalist system. Donnigan is one of Howard Roark’s closest friends, because of their shared values. He also shows how, contrary to critics, moral praise is not reserved for heroic, world-scale creators, but is open to anyone who thinks and acts productively, to the limits of his abilities.
WHAT THE ‘‘AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA ACT,” HR 3962, ACTUALLY SAYS
What does the bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, HR3962, short-titled the ‘‘Affordable Health Care for America Act,” actually say about major health-care issues? I here pose a few commonsense questions, cite some relevant passages, and offer a few brief comments.
This bill is 1,990 pages of mind-numbing legalese. It will reach deeply into federal and state regulations and laws, on a scale that will require years for experts to interpret. It will establish institutions that will be effectively irreversible. It will grant arbitrary powers to bureaucrats, who will have to interpret and enforce its dictates. A full analysis of its impact would require a commentary at least as long as the bill itself. American citizens cannot be expected to read and understand such legislation. But they should be aware that this is the nature of the laws being written by their (alleged) representatives in Washington.
I will be on “The Big Biz Show” with Bob “Sully” Sullivan & Russ “T” Nailz, on Wednesday, October 7, at 2:40 p.m. Pacific Time (5:40 Eastern Time). The show can be heard live online from 1 to 3 p.m. Pacific Time at www.businesstalkradio.net (click on “Listen Live”). The topic is Health Care Reform.