Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Promoting Universal Human Rights

"Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize an undercover dictatorship. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men, and deny equal privilege to others, will be to constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic, and have no place in a Republic. The Constitution of this Republic should make special privilege for medical freedom as well as religious freedom." abridged quote --Benjamin Rush, M.D., a signer of the Declaration of Independence


Reliapundit tells me that this is a bogus quote. It could very well be. However, it does in fact express something which has come to pass in America. The medical cartel through government regulation has effectively created a situation where medicine is controlled in America by private groups through government regulation. They restrict the supply of doctors through their trade schools and restict the medicines available through the operation of the FDA and control of pharmacies. No authorization from a doctor? No medicine.

The FDA will tell you how many lives they save by keeping bad medicines and treatments off the market. What they do not tell you is how many people die through the delay of getting good medicines and treatments through the FDA process.

At one time the job of the FDA was to prove that a treatment or medicine was not unduly harmful. Testing for that cost in the 10s of millions range and could be done fairly rapidly. Now the FDA requires proof that medicines work. This takes much longer and costs a lot more. Ten to one hundred times more. Medicines which treat diseases which do not affect large numbers of people no longer get developed because with the regulatory scheme now in place such development is not profitable.

Do the members of the medical cartel complain about this onerous regulation? Of course not. They can afford the costs and it keeps the little guys out of the market. As usually happens with government regulation it starts out purporting to help the people and winds up benefitting the regulated at the expense of the people. The history of the Interstate Commerce Comission (ICC) is instructive in this regards. It was originally put in place to prevent "predatory" pricing by the railroads and extended itself into the regulation of the trucking companies - competitors of the railroad. The ICC has been effictively abolished and what happened? Freight rates went down. Could it be that if we abolished the FDA and the requirement that only doctors approved by the AMA can practice medicine or grant access to drugs that the cost of health care would be determined by the market and not the government?

All this is the first step in the socialization of medicine. First a cartel gets hold of the regulatory mechanism and drives up prices. Then in order to combat the power of the cartel we are told that a bigger cartel (socialized medicine) is needed.

It amazes me that so many who are against socialized medicine favor heavy government regulation of medicine. The control disease for which only more control is the cure.

I'm not against the AMA or pharmacies that want to be governed by their rules. However, they ought not have a government license to print money.

From the Wiki on the AMA:
Critics of the American Medical Association, including economist Milton Friedman, have asserted that the organization acts as a government-sanctioned guild and has attempted to increase physicians' wages and fees limit by influencing limitations on the supply of physicians and non-physician competition [13][14]. They assert that these actions not only have inflated the cost of healthcare in the United States but also have caused a decline in the quality of healthcare.
Now all this came up because Reliapundit and I disagree about the usefulness of the drug war. Here is a list of some diseases for which there is evidence that marijuana is an effective treatment. My take is that the medical cartel loves the DEA. Imagine growing your own medicine and taking it without a doctor's approval. If that sort of thing started happening on a regular basis people might get ideas.

Further update:

The first attribution of the Benjamin Rush quote I could find is from: Rush, Benjamin & Corner, George Washington ; The autobiography of Benjamin Rush; his "Travels through Life" together with his Commonplace Book for 1789-1813, ed. with introd. and notes by George W. Corner. Now first printed in full from the original manuscripts in possession of The American Philosophical Society and The Library Company of Philadelphia. ; Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society, 1948. Art and Medicine


Reliapundit said...

msimon: this is a bogus quote:



and you were told this in a volokh thread two months ago.

i think you should take down the post.


Reliapundit said...

curiously, msimon, you did not post this bogus quote at your own blog. ?!?!?!?!?

Reliapundit said...

legaliztion of illegal narcotics wouldn't eradicate a balck market or self-medication to harmful degrees.

if illegal narcotics become pharmacologicalize/legalized then the oxycontin siruation would be merely be replicated to other drugs.

IMHO it is preposterous to think it would change anyhting important.

self-medication of drugs is a bad idea.

maybe we need to change thepenaliutes for abusing drugs.

Reliapundit said...

according to your link, the quote is a MERE ATTRIBUTION, and widely considered HIGHLY DUBIOUS.

it is foolish to pin your argument to it.