“Necessary” Regulations

This was originally posted on Live Oaks on October 4, 2010. Comments have not been migrated.

From what I can tell, Glenn Beck considers himself a libertarian. On Friday, he was explaining libertarianism to a caller. At one point, Beck said that libertarians don’t believe in government regulation. He then “corrected” himself and said that some regulations are necessary, such as those licensing doctors. Beck and his side kick, former Houston talk show host Pat Gray, then explained some of the horrors that would result without such licensing.

Unfortunately, Beck’s position is typical of conservatives. Despite his constant talk about principles, he demonstrates over and over than he doesn’t have any. For example, he does not complain that regulations are wrong in principle, but that too many go too far. How, and by what standard, does he determine what is “too far”? Without principles he can only decide each issue on a case-by-case basis.

Beck explained why doctors should be licensed: We don’t want to discover that our surgeon is a butcher. Certainly this is true, but Beck wants us to believe that the same government he regularly chastises should be in the business of deciding who is competent and who isn’t. Where Beck routinely calls for individuals to be more responsible for their lives, when it comes to doctors he argues that that responsibility should be ceded to government.

Not surprisingly, Beck shows no concern for the doctors who are subjected to arbitrary government decrees. His concern is with the patients, who he fears might be subjected to sub-prime health care without government involvement. Patients have a need–to be protected–and the rights of doctors are irrelevant.

The fact is, there are no necessary government regulations. Individuals have a moral right to offer any product or service they choose, so long as they do not use force or fraud. And they also have a right to purchase any product or service they choose.

In the context of health care, this means that anyone has a moral right to offer medical services, including my lawn boy. If he offers to remove my appendix, and I consent, he has not violated anyone’s rights. Each of us acted according to our own judgment, even though mine would be extremely poor. But I, and every other individual, should be free to make poor decisions.

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