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The Philosophy of the New Gilded Age

[ 245 ] January 11, 2017 |


That Ben Shapiro is a horrible human being is not up for debate. And hey, at least he is articulating the true Republican position on health care.

On Sunday, Senator Bernie Sanders took to Twitter to deliver one of his usual messages. “People go to the doctor because they’re sick, get a diagnosis from their doctor, but they can’t afford the treatment,” he wrote. “How crazy is that!” I responded snarkily, “I go to a fancy store to check out a piece of furniture, can’t afford it. That’s totally crazy!”

This prompted spasms of apoplexy on the left. How could I dare to compare medical care to furniture? Was I equating the value of the two? Was I suggesting that the necessity of furniture was somehow comparable to the necessity of medical care?

Yes, imagine the outrage from the left. Who can imagine why someone would be offended!?!

Morally, you have no right to demand medical care of me. I may recognize your necessity and offer charity; my friends and I may choose to band together and fund your medical care. But your necessity does not change the basic math: Medical care is a service and a good provided by a third party. No matter how much I need bread, I do not have a right to steal your wallet or hold up the local bakery to obtain it. Theft may end up being my least immoral choice under the circumstances, but that does not make it a moral choice, or suggest that I have not violated your rights in pursuing my own needs.

Welcome to the core ideology at the heart of the actual replacement of the ACA! Die poor person, die!

But the left believes that declaring necessities rights somehow overcomes the individual rights of others. If you are sick, you now have the right to demand that my wife, who is a doctor, care for you. Is there any limit to this right? Do you have the right to demand that the medical system provide life-saving care forever, to the tune of millions of dollars of other people’s taxpayer dollars or services? How, exactly, can there be such a right without the government’s rationing care, using compulsion to force individuals to provide it, and confiscating mass sums of wealth to pay for it?

Actually, yes, that’s precisely what I demand.

Let’s say your life depended on the following choice today: you must obtain either an affordable chair or an affordable X-ray. Which would you choose to obtain? Obviously, you’d choose the chair. That’s because there are many types of chair, produced by scores of different companies and widely distributed. You could buy a $15 folding chair or a $1,000 antique without the slightest difficulty. By contrast, to obtain an X-ray you’d have to work with your insurance company, wait for an appointment, and then haggle over price. Why? Because the medical market is far more regulated — thanks to the widespread perception that health care is a “right” — than the chair market.

This is almost amazingly stupid, even for Shapiro. Clearly, ending any government regulation of medicine will allow for cheap medical care for all! Cancer treatment is totally like chairs! Because, hey, repealing the Pure Food and Drug Act and replacing it with a return of patent medicines is some kind of health care!


Comments (245)

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  1. howard says:

    if ben shapiro were an honest conservative instead of a right-wing asshole, he would recognize that (as i never tire of pointing out) as ken arrow noted in 1962, health-care and markets don’t work and that regulating an otherwise dysfunctional market isn’t theft.

    but since there are no honest conservatives and there are only right-wing assholes, we get this kind of garbage from people who think they have a devastating argument.

    • NewishLawyer says:

      The Free Market can’t fail, it can only be failed.

      One thing I noted on right-wingers and/or libertarians is that even if they admit that there is some need for a welfare state, the conditions in which it and/or government regulation can be used is such a high bar as to be unreachable. The bar constantly moves as well.

      So the response is always more deregulation. More tax cuts, etc.

      • CP says:

        The Free Market can’t fail, it can only be failed.

        It’s the circularity of the logic that makes me want to punch them in the face:

        Conservatives justify unregulated free-market capitalism on the premise that it’s the system that delivers the best possible living standards.

        When unregulated free-market capitalism fails to deliver the best possible living standards, we’re told that that doesn’t matter, because Unregulated Free Market Capitalism is the righteous and worthwhile ends in itself.

        Why is Unregulated Free Market Capitalism a righteous and worthwhile ends in itself? Well… [back to original paragraph]

        • aturner339 says:

          Basically those worthy of a good life will have one. We know they are worthy because they have it. The end.

        • David Hunt says:

          They manage it by including the No True Scotsman fallacy. The Market failed because it was too regulated. We need to deregulate more before it can deliver the perfect outcome of increased income inequality that God intended by making poor people lazy.

      • MAJeff says:

        The Free Market is theology for them.

    • SIS1 says:

      The biggest intellectual sin for lovers of the “Market” is the unwillingness to admit that the only thing the market can deliver is efficiency – it does not select for what is “best”, or “moral”, merely what is the most efficient outcome, assuming all its impossible postulates are met.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        Change your priors for a second…

        What is ‘best’, or ‘moral’, if not a synonym for ‘efficient’?

        Baruch atah ha Shuk, dayan ha-emet.
        Blessed be the Market, the righteous judge.

        • postmodulator says:

          To expand on Mr. Machina in the same way that I have expanded on that in the past, the argument used to be that the free market led to the best outcomes. The current argument is that the free market itself is the good outcome, and any problems it causes are necessary sacrifices. And the shift was so subtle that even the people making the argument didn’t notice.

          • Davis X. Machina says:


            The assumption underlying the argument — that economic efficiency is a self-evident, and self-justifying summum bonum — goes unchallenged.

            And it had better go unchallenged, because it’s a slender foundation on which great edifice has been built.

            It’s replaced the clan-family the State, and the will of God, and a bunch of others from history.

            Its present privileged position isn’t a given.

            • tsam says:

              I was about to toss off out that Feudalism is probably the best historical example of an aggregated sum of Libertarian arguments (if you’re one of the lucky ducks who picked the right parents).

              I suppose the vassal nature of those agreements between king and lords would be an infringement on the rights of those feudal lords though.

      • DrDick says:

        The sad reality for idiots like Shapiro is that markets cannot even exist in the absence of state regulation and they are only accidentally efficient, since all the incentives are to lie, cheat, and steal, as the PEOTUS attests.

      • Linnaeus says:

        Yes, anything can be commodified in the market. Some German guy with an impressive beard wrote about such things, but what did he know?

      • CP says:

        It’s worse than that, because not only does “the Market” justify itself on the basis of its efficiency, but it gets to define what efficiency is.

        If it’s unprofitable for the health insurance market to supply the needs to X part of the population, then it won’t – and yet this will still be considered “efficient” (will be praised, in fact, as a sign of the market’s efficiency) because the purpose of the market isn’t to provide health care to people but to provide profit to customers.

        In the process, we end up paying more for health care while covering less people than those countries that implement robust universal health care systems. Which, just intuitively, would seem to be the very definition of inefficiency.

        • so-in-so says:

          Those who claim the market is “efficient” either are using a really long term view (like, centuries), have never worked in real business, or worked at a level where their subordinates blew smoke up their orifice about how great their decisions where, too bad that X didn’t perform as expected…

    • C.V. Danes says:

      but since there are no honest conservatives and there are only right-wing assholes, we get this kind of garbage from people who think they have a devastating argument.

      I have to wonder if he is really that dense, or if he only pretends to be that dense so he can get paid by the people who are dense enough to fall for his tripe.

  2. UncleEbeneezer says:

    If you are sick, you now have the right to demand that my wife, who is a doctor, care for you.

    Taxation Healthcare = Slavery

    • Bubblegum Tate says:

      But abortion is slavery, too. Hmmm….

    • bob333 says:

      From a certain oath that Doctors have been know to take:
      “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

      And there is that whole story of the good Samaritan in that book that Ben seems so fond of. I guess he sides with the folks who walked by the man. Not his problem.

      • Bubblegum Tate says:

        RE: The Good Samaritan, the escape hatch Ben and his ilk always use is that it’s voluntary. Same deal with charity vs. taxes. “If I want to donate to charity, I will. But government FORCING me to pay taxes to fund welfare programs is EVIL AND WRONG because it takes away my ability to choose!”

        (Yes, they make arguments on the “it’s not right to take away my ability to choose” grounds. No, they don’t see the irony of it.)

        • runsinbackground says:

          I was going to take a slightly different line with that, which is that they think it’s okay to coerce people into doing things by saying the Sky Wizard will torture them forever after they die if they don’t, but it’s not okay to coerce people into doing things by saying that the State will fine them or jail them in the here-and-now if they don’t.

          • rea says:

            “See this dollar bill? Whose picture is that on the front? Washington’s, you say? Well, then: render unto Washington the things that are Washington’s.”

    • C.V. Danes says:

      And wouldn’t that be the case if his wife was a doctor in the ER, regardless? Or maybe hospitals should be relieved of medical slavery as well.

    • Mark Centz says:

      The Dr. Mrs Shapiro-
      Did she attend school availing herself of any government scholarships or grants?
      The school, did it receive any government money in the form of grants or tax breaks?
      Did individual contributors to the institution receive tax breaks for the gifts?
      Someone said something once about it taking a village…..

      And it’s not as if she’s not being paid by said government to give that care.

  3. sibusisodan says:

    But the left believes that declaring necessities rights somehow overcomes the individual rights of others.


    I you have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, my free action is necessarily constrained so that you can enjoy and fully possess those rights. That’s foundational stuff.

  4. BigHank53 says:

    How, exactly, can there be such a right without the government’s rationing care, using compulsion to force individuals to provide it, and confiscating mass sums of wealth to pay for it?

    Oddly enough, Mr. Shapiro, you don’t seem to have a big problem when that same government forces me to pay for nuclear-tipped missiles, yet another carrier group, the F-35, or the $6000 of jet fuel it takes to keep said F-35 in the air for an hour. Why is that?

    • Linnaeus says:

      IME, folks of Shapiro’s ilk try to get around this by simply declaring that national defense is a legitimate function of the government while providing health care is not.

      • Oh, can I do that too? Ahem: “From first principles, I declare thus that the great charter of any state is to compel Ben Shapiro to eat shit.”

      • Howlin Wolfe says:

        That’s because there is a provision in the Constitution that mandates that defense allocations have priority of all other spending, and too bad if it doesn’t provide for the general welfare! Article MDXLVII, you can look it up. Also, too, the 86th Amendment says “Health Care a Right? NO WAY!”

      • Brad Nailer says:

        “Bait-and-switch is the name of the national pastime. President Grover Cleveland confirmed the principle in 1887, explaining his veto of a bill passed by Congress to provide financial aid to the poor. ‘The lesson should be constantly enforced,’ he said, ‘that though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.” (Lewis Lapham, Age of Folly)

      • MAJeff says:

        “to promote the general welfare” doesn’t exist in their constitution.

    • angrifon says:

      Oh come on now… You can’t possibly believe that your right to quality healthcare outweighs Shapiro’s right to rain death from the sky on his geopolitical enemies. Of course you should be forced to pay for unnecessary weapons of mass destruction in order to enrich Republican donors. And if a few poor people have to die agonizing preventable deaths in order to achieve that, so be it.

    • Captain C says:

      I think the real difference here is that Shapiro can’t fap himself silly over us getting health care.

    • Timurid says:

      If Ben is threatened by a house fire he will demand a fireman.
      If he is threatened by an armed robber he will demand a policeman.
      If he is threatened by a hurricane he will demand accurate forecasts.
      If he is threatened by Al Qaeda he will demand a military response.
      If he is threatened by a brain tumor he will… shrug and meekly acknowledge that he has no right to demand anything that he can’t pay for out of his own pocket?

      • CP says:

        Back in 2008, my Facebook picture for months was a cartoon of a Wall Street exec being carried out of his flaming window by a fireman, while crying “Wait! Let me get my ‘Government Is The Problem, Not The Solution’ inspirational needlepoint!”

      • Brad Nailer says:

        Of course. The fire, the robbery, the hurricane, and the terrorism are all outside agencies. The brain tumor is his own damn fault.

  5. There is no way to consistently believe that government-subsidized health care is a form of theft without being an anarchist. Shapiro is not an anarchist — or did I miss his similar diatribe about how there is no moral right to steal from individuals just to employ an army?

    Nobody seriously believes this “taxation is theft” cant, and Shapiro’s use of it here is yet another reminder of the intellectual bankruptcy of the conservative movement.

    • DamnYankees says:

      There is no way to consistently believe that government-subsidized health care is a form of theft without being an anarchist.

      That’s what makes the “this is slavery” argument so weird. It’s only justifiable from an anarchist perspective. Which these people are clearly not. Does Ben Shapiro believe that having a military is slavery? The logic is the same.

      What percentage of conservatives, when making this stupid argument, actually believe it? Do they believe it and not think through it? I don’t get it.

      • Linnaeus says:

        It depends on which first principles with respect to the scope of government you start with. For Shapiro, something like national defense (and the military establishment needed to execute it) would be within the realm of allowable government functions.

        • DamnYankees says:

          But, given his own analogy, it’d still be slavery. So, it’s just good slavery?

          • Linnaeus says:

            He’s probably thinking of some kind of Nozickian “night-watchman” state that is empowered to do certain things because if it were not, then that would be a threat to individual liberty. So it’s legitimate to have a military, because that military can protect you from outside forces that may seek to suppress your liberty – you’ve allowed for some coercion in order to decrease the chance of greater coercion.

            • Murc says:

              He’s probably thinking of some kind of Nozickian “night-watchman” state that is empowered to do certain things because if it were not, then that would be a threat to individual liberty.

              That’s precisely the argument in favor of universal health care, tho! Individuals cannot exercise liberty if they are dead.

              • rea says:

                He’s probably thinking of some kind of Nozickian “night-watchman” state that is empowered to do certain things because if it were not, then that would be a threat to individual liberty.

                It’s the Volokh “asteroid” argument. Asteroids might kill us all, but they’re not really a threat to individual liberty, so taxing people to prevent an asteroid from destroying the earth is immoral.

                Similarly, without health care, you’ll die, but that’s not a threat to individual liberty, now is it?

                • CP says:

                  Yet another thing that only flies if you define “individual liberty” basically as “a thing that is not affected by asteroid strikes or health care crises.” It would seem, just intuitively, that few things would limit my individual liberties more than being dead – hard to exercise your right to keep and bear arms when you’re a corpse.

                  But that would require thinking things through to a conclusion they don’t want to reach, so now “individual liberty” needs to be redefined.

                • Colin Day says:

                  By that criterion, ISIS/Al Qaeda are just asteroids. Yes, they can kill us, but how do they take our freedom?

        • That seems like a circular argument, or at least an evasive one. If you’re starting from the assumption that ensuring health care is not a legitimate function of government, why do you even need to argue that taxation in order to provide health care is theft? And plenty of libertarians I’ve heard making similar arguments will stop on this claim — that it is unacceptable for the government to provide a particular service because it requires taxation, and taxation is theft. Then there’s usually a bunch of garble about positive versus negative rights.

          • Linnaeus says:

            I agree that it’s an evasive argument. But it’s also fairly common among libertarian types.

            • muddy says:

              The thing is that the military has guns in it. Thus it is super cool, constitoootional and should top our concerns at every moment.

              • CP says:

                Yes. Exactly.

                The idea that the constitution has anything to do with this shit doesn’t pass muster. The constitution is also cool with things like Post Offices, which they hate and want defunded and privatized just as passionately as the ACA. The military and the police are exempt because the military and police are awesome. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

                • David Hunt says:

                  They’re cool with police and the military because they maintain a status quo that they prosper in. Without those forces, the have-not’s would cook and eat them.

            • postmodulator says:

              The serious and intellectually consistent libertarians are also opposed to all other government functions. But there are like seven of those guys. There are far more people who believe that aliens are real and abduct humans, and we don’t feel compelled to engage them.

    • JustRuss says:

      I’m always amused when they trot out the “Free healthcare means my poor Doctor Wife will have to work for free! Slavery!!!” argument. Because yes, that’s exactly how it works in exactly zero of the dozens of nations that do provide universal health care. But who needs those pesky facts?

    • wengler says:

      There is no way to consistently believe that government-subsidized health care is a form of theft without being an anarchist.

      Rightwing libertarian. Leftwing libertarians(anarchists) are fully supportive of healthcare for all.

    • Harkov311 says:

      It still surprises me a bit how far down the anarcho-capitalist road many conservatives are willing to go…Or at least pretend to go, since I strongly suspect they’re just looking for a philosophical justification for “taxes are bad.”

  6. D.N. Nation says:

    Morally, you have no right to demand medical care of me.

    The fact that my tax dollars go to the physical upkeep of pasty, paunchy, elderly Republican shitheads in Congress says otherwise.

  7. DamnYankees says:


  8. C.V. Danes says:

    But the left believes that declaring necessities rights somehow overcomes the individual rights of others.

    We are the only industrialized country where medical care is not declared a right, you fucking awful excuse for a human being.

  9. Cervantes says:

    Also, too, the need for health care is distributed largely stochastically. We all have about the same baseline need for food, clothing and shelter, and you can argue that everything above that is a luxury. However, I don’t get an X-ray or physician services or expensive medications just because I happen to want to, as I might happen to want a fancy chair. I get them because I have, let’s say, cancer. So person A needs $100,000 worth of health care in order to live, and person B doesn’t happen to need any at the moment.

    There is no consumer sovereignty in this. There are also externalities to not taking care of sick people, and not only in the obvious case of infectious disease. I could go on and on but you get the idea. This sort of argument is completely mindless.

    • howard says:

      this is an important aspect as to why health insurance and markets don’t make sense: the insurer is protecting you against an open-ended cost (as distinct from auto or theft or home insurance, for example, where the maximum outlay is pretty well known in advance). it’s the risk of those open-ended claims that make insurance companies develop the rules that everyone hates, which is why you either treat it as a regulated market (like utilities) or you move to nationalization and/or single-payer.

      • Lurker says:

        Car insurance is not, in many countries, covering a well-defined risk. In Europe, the traffic insurance covers all the costs to the persons injured in an accident where you are responsible. This is a very open-ended commitment.

    • Bubblegum Tate says:

      Wait, you mean health care is complicated? But that simple chair metaphor explained everything!

    • DrDick says:

      Actually, that is not even true. We know for a fact that poverty causes greater ill health for a variety of reasons. In reality, his affluence is the cause of the health problems of the poor. He is simply providing small recompense for the damage he has caused.

  10. Bitter Scribe says:

    This fool actually thinks that health care is more expensive than chairs because health care is regulated?

    News flash: There are no $15 x-rays, biopsies, operations, or other medical procedures ready to be purchased by savvy “consumers.” Dr. Nick Riviera is not standing by at 1-800-DOCTORB to perform heart bypass surgery for $199.99. Health care, and the insurance to pay for it, is beyond the means of many if not most citizens, which is precisely why they must “demand medical care of me” and everyone else. It’s called working for the common good, on the theory that “me” will one day be in a similar situation.

  11. Dilan Esper says:

    This is exactly why libertarianism isn’t in the political mainstream.

    And note, it really isn’t. Despite the fact that conservatives want to cut back on government in all sorts of ways, (1) they don’t articulate the view that government should never under any circumstances pay for a social safety net, (2) their attempts to cut the social safety net, while outrageous, fall short of outright abolishment, and (3) they actually sometimes go along with expansions of or attempts to save the social safety net (Bush’s NCLB and prescription drug benefit, Reagan’s Social Security tax).

    There are simply very few Ayn Rand-style libertarians out there, even on the right. Most people agree that the government at least has some basic obligations to take care of the least fortunate, and the arguments are over how far those obligations extent, not whether they exist.

    And I would suggest the problem with the Shapiro’s of the world, beyond a basic lack of compassion, is their desire that there be a hard and fast ethical rule. They can’t wrap their minds around nuance. Saying “you never have the right to steal my labor for your medical care” is a bright line rule; debating the cut-off for Medicaid is a fuzzy line with no clear-cut answers. But life, and ethics, is rarely clear cut.

    • MPAVictoria says:

      Libertarianism isn’t in the political mainstream because women are WAY too smart to fall for it.

      • Linnaeus says:

        Nonwhites even more so.

        • LeeEsq says:

          This is one of the times where nonwhites is being used as a sort of code for African-Americans and Hispanics. There are more than a few people of color who are libertarian. They tend to be of subcontinent or East Asian.

          • Linnaeus says:

            There are more than a few people of color who are libertarian. They tend to be of subcontinent or East Asian.

            I suspect that, among people of color who do consider themselves libertarian, a significant proportion of them are South or East Asian in origin. Which, if true, is an interesting difference between them and other nonwhite American populations I wasn’t arguing, however, that there were no libertarians who aren’t white; rather, I was pointing out that libertarians are disproportionately white, at least in my experience, even when one takes into account the presence of people of color. YMMV.

          • JL says:

            I don’t dispute that there are libertarian people of color, including Asian folks. However, Asian-Americans as a group quite heavily vote Democratic. Asians were slightly more likely than Latinos to vote Obama in 2012 (73% vs 71%), with Indians being the most Democratic-voting Asian group at 84%. Asian-Americans also generally prefer bigger governments that provide more services to smaller governments that provide fewer services (which the general public does not).

            There are recurring myths that “model minorities” are naturally libertarians or Republicans. It isn’t true for Jews, as I hope we’re all aware, and while it used to be somewhat true for Asian-Americans (who were more evenly split back in, say, 1992), it hasn’t been for a couple of decades.

      • wengler says:

        Rightwing libertarianism isn’t in the mainstream because it takes a special combination of wealth and ignorance to be so stupid as to believe it.

    • DamnYankees says:

      There are simply very few Ayn Rand-style libertarians out there, even on the right.

      While true, I’m not sure how relevant this fact is. There are very few people of any given political philosophy out there, if you define the philosophy narrowly enough. There are very few people who love Trump. He’s still President.

      The question to me is merely if you can get a true believer into a position of power, are there enough other people who are either on your side, indifferent to you, or motivated to join in in the face of a common foe, that you can push through what you want. I guess we’ll find out.

    • Brett says:

      There’s not many hard-core libertarians, but there are plenty of “out of sight, out of mind” conservatives who don’t give a shit if it’s not happening to them and their own (or people they personally know and interact with), so they latch on to flimsy rationales for cutting off other people’s assistance even if they fiercely defend their own.

      Megyn Kelly was one, coming out in support of paid maternity leave after going on leave following one of her kids’ births (after opposing it). I know conservatives here in Utah who became supporters of Obamacare after they developed chronic health conditions.

  12. Because, hey, repealing the Pure Food and Drug Act and replacing it with a return of patent medicines is some kind of health care!

    Would a return to opiate infused patent medicines be that radical a change?

    • muddy says:

      After watching Frontline, I think much of what is on the shelves is snake oil already.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Every time people warn that unregulated, fraudulently promising, aggressively marketed patent medicines are coming in the near future I am grimly amused, because we already have those in the “Supplements Industry”, which is steadfastly defended from oversight by Congress (especially by Republicans from Utah and the Mountain West) – with an added abusive-scam layer of “multilevel marketing” often thrown in.

    • Brett says:

      That would especially be a shit-show. It takes years just to verify that a drug is working versus a placebo – imagine the costs of trying to trace out the damage of a bad drug on its victims to convince a judge that it was the source of the damage, especially in the face of corporate efforts to sabotage your research and slander you (like what happened when lead paint came under attack for its negative health effects).

  13. Cheap Wino says:

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how selfishness leads to stupidity. Shapiro’s fundamental selfishness forces him to travel down the road to the point where he makes claims that can only be described as stupid. No need to analyze, he’s a selfish piece of garbage which is at the core or every word he writes.

  14. Shakezula says:

    It’s always fun to watch conservatives argue that rights are created and exist independent of decisions made by humans. But because a right is whatever the hell society decides it is, that’s all they have.

    Morally, you have no right to demand medical care of me.

    But Shapiro can insist that women carry unwanted pregnancies to term because freedom.

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      But because a right is whatever the hell society decides it is, that’s all they have.

      So there is no “right” to not be a chattel slave unless “society” (which is defined how? majority vote?) declares there is such a right?

      • Not in any meaningful sense, no.

        • Domino says:

          Honestly – rights are only as good as to how well they are enforced.

          Everyone had the “right” to life and liberty in the US in 1800, but you know black people were actually more comparable to objects than actual humans, so they don’t get any rights. And women getting the right to vote? What nonsense.

          What good does it to say you have the “right” not to be in slavery, without enforcement?

      • Shakezula says:

        Well, no. The right not to be a slave was determined by a president and a big old war. You might have heard about it.

      • Howlin Wolfe says:

        Declaring a right as “God-given” is a social act performed by the declarant. Who is going to enforce it if not society, via whatever laws, devices and mechanisms exist within that society. Apparently some societies in the past didn’t believe slavery was immoral, and so some people didn’t have a right not to be a slave.

        But if you’re an unrepentant Platonist or worse, you might think these rights exist in the realm of forms. But those forms have contradictory forms, though, as we know thanks to Godel. And the particular form that the philosopher king, or Continental Congress, as the case may be, chooses to embrace becomes the actual right.

    • Bubblegum Tate says:

      Has anybody ever pressed him on the “well then morally, you have no right to demand a woman carry a pregnancy to term” thing? I know better than to expect intellectual consistency, but I’m curious what his dodge will be.

  15. RPorrofatto says:

    If you are sick, you now have the right to demand that my wife, who is a doctor, care for you. Is there any limit to this right? Do you have the right to demand that the medical system provide life-saving care forever, to the tune of millions of dollars of other people’s taxpayer dollars or services? How, exactly, can there be such a right without the government’s rationing care, using compulsion to force individuals to provide it, and confiscating mass sums of wealth to pay for it?

    Gee, I dunno. If only there were places where they have this right, and maybe some form of universal health insurance, then we could answer all these questions. Maybe they’ve tried this in other industrialized countries somewhere. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if there was some system in this country, we could call it Medicare or something, where coverage was universal and costs were contained even better than the private market. We could certainly learn a thing or two about how this might work.

    Oh well, I guess we’re still stuck in 1947.

  16. Shantanu Saha says:

    If Ben Shapiro were to find himself locked in my hermetically sealed box, I might recognize his right to have oxygen, but I draw the line in having his right obligate me to drill a hole in the box to let air in. It’s my box! Don’t I have a right not to cut holes in it just to let him have air?

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      I’m pretty sure the law would say you are required to drill the holes because, under the fact pattern you gave, it’s your box and thus presumably subject to your control, making you liable for what happens to Shapiro while in the box (since even trespassers are owed duties by property owners). But I would be very surprised to learn that Shapiro is opposed to tort victims being able to sue tortfeasors for medical expenses caused by their tortious acts.

      The actual relevant analogy would be if Shapiro ended up sealed in someone else’s box. Then unless either (a) you were the one who placed Shapiro in the, or (b) you have some sort of preexisting contract or other legal relationship with Shapiro that would require you to drill holes in the box, then yes, of course you have the right to not drill the holes, and I think Shapiro would agree. (It would almost certainly be a correct statement of the law, since there is no general “duty to rescue” absent the exceptions I mentioned above.)

      • muddy says:

        I vote for the 2nd circumstance in a transparent box.

      • Lurker says:

        This is an interesting point. In my country, there is a general duty to rescue. Anyone who notices an accident orna fire is liable to start rescue or fire fighting to the extent of their abilities. In any case, they are liable to call 112 (our 911). Not doing that is a crime. On the other hand, should you get injured in a rescue attempt, the state covers your damages and pays for any permanent damage as if you had been a civil servant.

        So, requiring people to save others is a valid moral choice, not a utopia.

  17. FlipYrWhig says:

    Every Ben Shapiro has this imagination where they have NEVER EVER benefited from something someone else chipped in to pay for by way of civil society and/or government. They’ve always-already had all kinds of great stuff and the rest of us barbarians want to take it. What gives Ben Shapiro the right to drink clean water… clean water that other people paid for? THATS OUR WATER BEN GO DRILL YOUR OWN WELL

    • Just_Dropping_By says:

      (A) Since when does Shapiro not pay for municipal water service? (B) Even if someone has benefited from many pre-existing government programs, why does that obligate them to support new programs or the expansion of existing programs? Can people never say, “I think the existing programs should be smaller/not exist, but I recognize that there are expectations and dependencies that have been created by those programs and it would be unduly prejudicial to reduce/eliminate them, but we should refrain from expanding them/creating new ones.”

      • That isn’t the argument he’s making, though. The argument he’s making is that taxation to provide health care is morally equivalent to theft. He also dances around the companion claim that guaranteeing health care is morally equivalent to slavery (because apparently doctors need to be forced at gunpoint to provide health care, rather than being paid to do so).

        • Lurking Canadian says:

          because apparently doctors need to be forced at gunpoint to provide health care, rather than being paid to do so

          That part would be because the doctors would have to accept whatever miserly pay the State decreed, rather than being allowed to auction their services to the highest bidder. This is why the doctors who work with Medicare patients have to wear those rusty iron collars.

        • cpinva says:

          “He also dances around the companion claim that guaranteeing health care is morally equivalent to slavery (because apparently doctors need to be forced at gunpoint to provide health care, rather than being paid to do so).”

          with respect to his wife, the Dr., he totally ignores the fact that all of us helped pay for her medical school education. of all the professions, it claims the highest level of subsidizing by the state and federal governments. student tuition & fees come nowhere close to covering the total cost of a degree in medicine.

          so yes, we all are entitled to decent medical care. we are, after all, helping the doctors get their degrees.

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        He’s well accustomed to the idea of paying for the right to share in public services. He’s acting like he’s being asked to countenance some philosophical abomination. This is a routine aspect of being encompassed by civil government. And well-off people aren’t being victimized by it, they’re doing great by it. I don’t have kids and my tax money pays for schools, playgrounds, and safe highchairs. Is it being stolen from me? I hardly think anyone would see it that way.

        • Bubblegum Tate says:

          I definitely have heard “I resent having to pay taxes for schools when I don’t even have kids!” griping before, but I think it’s just that: Griping. None of these people would seriously start waving the “this is tantamount to theft!” flag, but then again, none of them are assholes.

    • The Great God Pan says:

      This chiseler went to UCLA. Those lower fees for attending a public school were funded by the people. THEFT!

  18. N__B says:

    Given that his wife showed us all her level of judgment when she married him, no I won’t be demanding medical services of her. I’ll take my chances with the barber/surgeon.

    • leftwingfox says:

      Srsly. How much would she like to compete with Billy’s discount amputation? He has a butcher-grade band-saw and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. He’ll remove anything for $100.

      And heck, if his wife is so dead set against treating people, why did she choose to become a doctor? That’s a rather awful picture to paint of your spouse, that the only reason they became a doctor was to make a shitload of money off the rich and desperate, and all those qualifications, and educational standards and standards of practice are interfering with her precious bottom line.

      Somehow the market will solve anything, but if the government drops a big pile of money to pay those willing heal the poor, suddenly financial incentive just vanishes?

      • Warren Terra says:

        The cliche about getting into Medical School is that you have to convince the admissions board, through your essay and interviews, that you are desperate to heal people, that every time you contemplate a sick person a tear comes to your eye and your resolve redoubles.

        This is of course nonsense, it has little to do with getting into Medical School and even less to do with getting through it. But it’s the cliche …

        • leftwingfox says:

          Honestly, I think Shapiro’s just trying to say “How dare you enslave my wife!” without realizing just how much of a monster he’s implying she is.

        • Hogan says:

          “I want to go to law school.”

          “My God–why would you do that?”

          “I want to help people.”

          “So you were pre-med and you got a C in organic chemistry?”

          “D+. How did you know?”

          “Lucky guess.”

    • Warren Terra says:

      As you should know from your professional life, there are a lot of extremely talented people with highly advanced vocational qualifications – doctors, engineers, etcetera – who are otherwise poorly educated and/or remarkably stupid.

      I’d not like to take tea with the lady, but she might be a perfectly fine doc.

      • N__B says:

        First paragraph, yes. But you forgot architects.

        Second paragraph, if her departure from normality was that she collected faux-porcelain dolls with big eyes, I’d be fine with her as a doctor. But her marrying that repulsive little scumbag tells me there’s something wrong with her that makes me not trust her.

  19. drpuck says:


    “There are also externalities to not taking care of sick people, and not only in the obvious case of infectious disease.”

    Damn externalities make libertarianism illogical. I know what to do, “externalities are fake news!!!”

    pay now, or pay later


    It might be worth recognizing that the GOP is not talking about the USA having the greatest healthcare in the world, it’s talking about aiming for a place lower on the list than it already is.

    However, keep in mind the person with $500,000 in assets can expect to live into his or her eighties, while the person with <$50,000 in assets. . .

  20. geniecoefficient says:

    Ben Shapiro, a shanda fur all who are not classical violinists.

  21. tsam says:

    Let’s see, we WANT furniture and NEED health care, therefore these are exactly the same.

    Fucking kill yourself, Ben. Trying to appear stupid to rile up stupid people is worse than being stupid.

  22. Warren Terra says:

    Can you imagine being in a public place when someone keels over, in Ben Shapiro’s conception of society?

    “Is there a doctor in the house? A reasonably priced doctor? I’ve looked in this guy’s wallet, and he’s got a Blue Cross card and $63 in cash towards the co-pay! Please, is there such a doctor here?”

    • leftwingfox says:

      I don’t have to imagine, it’s nearly impossible to see countless examples of the free market in action in the medical community in the historical record. We’ll be back to carnival barkers and patent medicines, even less regulated “herbal” and “homeopathic” medicines (Not guaranteed to include or be free from the active ingredient respectively), and quacks sewing goat testicles into athletes

      • tsam says:

        The biggest problem is the Libertarian view of medical care as a widget–like toilet paper or cars. Health care is nothing like those things, and cost controls that result from supply and demand and competition don’t apply. It’s also not something a person can just do without if they don’t have money to pay for it.

        • Warren Terra says:

          To be sure, this is true of many goods and services: food, housing, clothing, legal defense, etcetera (though in some or all of those cases there are more – and more acceptable – tiers of necessity and luxury/quality than in medicine).

          • tsam says:

            Absolutely–which is why Ben’s comparison to furniture earns him a junk punch.

          • Brett says:

            That’s what it really comes down to. We don’t have public provision of food because the existing system (mostly) works to provide food at an acceptable cost to people, and we have assistance programs (albeit inadequate) to help those who can’t afford enough of it. Choice and variety matter a lot as well in food consumption, so it makes more sense to give people the ability to pick the food they want with a subsidy than to simply give them some bags of flour and sugar.

    • The Great God Pan says:


      In Ben Shapiro’s conception of society, nobody would be expected to shout out for a doctor, or even to step over the guy’s body instead of on it. If he can’t afford a manservant to follow him around and tend to such needs, that’s his problem.

  23. ASV says:

    I’m old enough to remember how outrageous it was when Alan Grayson said that Republicans believe this.

  24. Nick never Nick says:

    Hey, off-topic question: whatever happened to Andrew Sullivan? His last public utterance was a column for New York Magazine the day after the election. I’m surprised that he hasn’t commented sporadically on Donald Trump’s impending presidency.

  25. Bloix says:

    The Republicans’ health care plan for America: “Don’t get sick.” … But I think that the Republicans understand that that plan isn’t always going to work — it’s not a foolproof plan. So the Republicans have a backup plan, in case you do get sick. If you get sick in America, this is what the Republicans want you to do. If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: “Die quickly.” That’s right. The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.”

    Allan Grayson

  26. Nobdy says:

    Nobody has the right to demand Healthcare from Ben’s wife…but that isn’t what’s going on here. Instead the request is being made to the government, which has obligations to its citizens and whose citizens have obligations to it. If you are a 20 year old male the government can draft you and send you to war, so the idea that it can tax me isn’t exactly scary in comparison.

    Conservatives love to conflate the relationship between individuals and the relationship between a citizen and her government.

    Not to say there are no limits to what the government can justly do but taxing me to pay for someone’s Healthcare is a perfectly legitimate function.

    Presumably Shapiro thinks that the government has an obligation to protect us from criminals and fires, so how are cancer or listeria fundamentally different?

    When I was younger I was told that I would become more conservative as I got older and richer.

    Now I am almost middle aged, and rich enough that Loomis would yell at me if I claimed to be middle class (though I will admit I don’t FEEL rich) and conservatism makes less sense than ever.

  27. Sumdood says:

    I think you meant to say “medical chair”. Don’t we all of us need the best “medical chair” we can buy?

  28. MaxUtility says:

    Minor point I know. But does Shapiro think you can actually “haggle” over the cost of an x-ray at your hospital? Either that’s news to me or he really doesn’t understand how health care works.

    • Nick never Nick says:

      Be fair, the health insurance he gets from the National Review has probably found some weird network where all the ‘hospitals’ feature haggling, barter, exchange of twinned organs in return for repair of unique ones, and mortgaging one’s (pre-deceased) corpse for applesauce.

    • Brad Nailer says:

      I have a friend at work who contends that’s how he’s been doing medical care for years. He has a family but apparently no medical insurance. Instead, when he gets a bill, he negotiates it and thinks that’s what everybody should do. I asked him, what if you’re not a good negotiator? Isn’t that why we pay insurance companies? He says insurance should only be used for high-dollar treatments. So, we’re all supposed to negotiate with the doctor whenever we go in for a checkup or Shapiro’s $15 x-ray. Doctors will love that.

      The more I think about it, the less I think this is the whole story.

  29. Area Man says:

    Comparing buying health care to buying furniture isn’t just morally callous, it reveals deep ignorance about why health care doesn’t work as a normal market good. Imagine there were a piece of furniture that people would die without buying. This would quickly lead to sellers of that furniture jacking up the price as high as they could while paying no attention to controlling costs, resulting in millions of people unable to afford it.

    That’s our health care system.

  30. AdamPShort says:

    This is literally a rejection of all modern economics.

    The foundation of monetary economics going back at least to the Greek archaic period is that providing public goods via government spending is not the same as forcible redistribution.

    Private interests are compelled via the monetary system to produce for the public interest, and compensated with public funds. That’s the point of the system.

  31. cs says:

    Wait – didn’t he give the game away in the bread-stealing example? He said “Theft may end up being my least immoral choice under the circumstances”. Extending the analogy, big government health care might be our least immoral choice in the current circumstance. That being the case, what’s his objection?

    • David Hunt says:

      That it’s even more moral for lots of poor people to die if it means he gets a tax cut.

    • Lurker says:

      Actually, stealing to avoid starvation is considered the correct moral choice by at least classic Tomist philosophy. The person has a duty not to commit suicide, and if they are starving and no one is ready to offer charity, everyone else is behaving so immorally that it is self-defence to steal (exactly an amount necessary to one’s survival).

      So, making a point that stealing to avoid starvation is immoral tells pretty much about your level of conservatism. If you are more illeberal than Thomas Aquinas, you are off the deep end.

  32. anonymous says:

    In very limited cases, the “free market” does work for healthcare. The best example is LASIK eye surgery. In that case, the “free market” more or less works. It doesn’t quite fall under the simplistic Econ 101 commodity supply/demand free market model but it’s the closest one I can think of.

    But most forms of healthcare don’t fall into this model. If you have some sudden unknown acute ailment, an ordinary healthcare consumer is never going to be able to shop around for the most cost effective drugs or surgery and wouldn’t even know where to begin to discern that without becoming a physician himself.

  33. Mike in DC says:

    Something something obligations of the social contract. Something something John Rawls something something we should have as many rights and benefits as our society can properly afford to provide.

  34. anonymous says:

    “Unregulated Free market” economics should be supported only to the extent that it results in optimal outcomes as determined by consensus while also accounting for externalities.

    If a regulated “non-free” market alternative provides more optimal outcomes, then that is to be preferred.

    The “free market” (a myth actually as it doesn’t exist except in rare cases) is not a good in and of itself regardless of outcomes!

    • MyNameIsZweig says:

      The “free market” (a myth actually as it doesn’t exist except in rare cases) is not a good in and of itself regardless of outcomes!

      I’ve been trying for nearly a year to get this point across to my probable future father-in-law. It’s … slow going.

  35. Colin Day says:

    Some such libertarians might use Rand’s (Ayn, not Paul) argument that force and mind are opposites, so therefore the initiation of force is wrong. I have two criticisms with this: First, advertising is neither force nor mind; second, you might need force to structure society in a more cognitive way (schools, infrastructure).

    • anonymous says:

      To the Randian-type libertarian, there is a huge difference between the government of Saudi Arabia oppressing you (because that is state oppression) versus the House of Saudi declaring the entire state it’s private property and it’s laws private property regulations and making the “govt” of Saudi Arabia a shell.

      To those oppressed, it is a distinction without a difference. But to a Randian it makes all the difference in the world.

      • Colin Day says:

        I wasn’t saying that they were correct, or that the distinction you make is irrelevant. I was trying to get people to focus on the non-initiation of force argument, as opposed to the markets-are-optimal argument.

  36. Jackson87 says:

    We should all be so lucky as to have lived in the blissful 19th century, era of the unregulated economy, when everyone prospered all the time, except for that little glitch in 1819, and a wee downturn in 1837, and a slight kerfluffle in 1857, and some unpleasantness in 1873, and a slow period around 1893. But other than those few times when there was mass unemployment, lost fortunes, and widespread suffering, they all basked in the glory of freedom.
    I am so sad poor Ben could not have been around to enjoy the good times.

  37. Donna Gratehouse says:

    These fuckers sure want women to be forced to donate their bodies to gestating fetuses, though.

  38. koolhand21 says:

    Two things. First, Ben thinks you get to negotiate the price of that X-ray when the insurance industry does that (or the hospital/center charges the exorbitant uninsured rate).
    Second, health care costs per capita in the US: over $9,415; France $4,407 (2015 data per OECD). Germany is just over $5,000 and they are second amongst industrialized countries.
    Health care in America = theft.

  39. e.a.foster says:

    guess that’s the way it goes in the U.S.A. In Canada health care is a right. Its provided and funded by the government. We haven’t gone to rack and ruin. Don’t know what goes on in the minds of some Americans and other nationalities, but there are all sorts of countries in the world, where people are entitled to health care.

    so people ought to just die? So much for that Christian attitude all those Republicans keep talking about and family values. Weird or what.

    guess only the rich deserve to have doctors and eat and have a roof over their heads. can’t afford it, go die. wonder how that works for kids who can’t work?

  40. pseudalicious says:

    Actually, yes, that’s precisely what I demand.

    This is my favorite part. Like, uh, Ben? Your wife took an oath, buddy. If someone’s having a heart attack on a plane she’s on and someone cries out for a doctor and she helps out, is she then going to bill the heart attack victim she saved? I mean, what the fuck? There’s “workers should be paid for their labor,” but there’s also, you know, goddamn humanity.

  41. Paleolithic says:

    My mom had a copy of one of Shapiro’s books at her house. I flipped through it to learn he had watched some TV and then made the MOST INCISIVE COMMENTARY EVER about how it reflected liberal whatevers. I’m not sure if he used a word processor to write it or if it simply emerged from his cloaca.

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