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Why illness has become a crime

By Richard E. Ralston
web posted April 25, 2011

Recently, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer received a lot of media attention when she proposed fines and other financial punishment for overweight citizens and smokers on Medicaid. Others targeted by such programs include diabetics who fail to follow instructions from their physicians on treatment of their diseases. Other states are headed in the same direction.

I remember a few years ago a network news anchor reading a story on the cost of obesity and the controls that must be imposed on those who inflict our medical system by being overweight. With a tone of scathing moral superiority, he declared that "the rest of us will have to pay for it." A few weeks later, a diagnosis of lung cancer unfortunately forced him permanently off the air after decades of smoking. But he had voiced one of the two key propaganda tools by which the government destroys our individual rights in health care.

The first tool is guilt. Patients must be morally disarmed by convincing them- not of their own responsibility for their health-but of their guilt. You may not make your own decisions because you eat too much, or too many trans-fats, or too much salt, or too many sodas. You recklessly smoke, or drink alcohol or coffee, or use drugs. You don't exercise enough or drive safely. Therefore you must accept your guilt and do what you are told.

That is the opposite of taking individual responsibility and facing consequences.

The second tool is to disable your judgment and your mind. Neither you nor your physicians are capable of making correct medical decisions. Only the government knows the effective treatment and hence the drugs and medical equipment to permit. Who are you to know what is best? Politicians, not physicians, have become the ultimate source of wisdom in health care. 

The clear implication of such decrees is that physicians must become enforcers who turn in their patients to the government for failure to follow medical instructions.

It must be said that there is considerable financial pressure on the states due to soaring Medicaid costs. Obamacare will push tens of millions of additional people into Medicaid-with the states forced to match spending (one of the more deceptive accounting tricks used to disguise the total cost of the legislation.) But that does not excuse the unleashing of the health care police on American citizens.

Those who accept that they have a "right" to health care which the government forces others to provide will gradually discover that they lose all freedom to decide what treatment they will actually receive. They will have surrendered their judgment and moral self-respect to politicians. They will have to accept government punishment for not buying insurance, punishment for smoking, punishment for eating too much, punishment for drinking, and punishment for deciding how they want to live their own lives. Physicians who follow their own best judgment instead of government protocols will be financially punished.

A government that pays for the health care of our bodies will decide that it owns our bodies. Illness will be judged a result of our criminally irresponsible negligence.

The only remaining choice will be to restore freedom to the practice of American medicine. ESR

Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, Newport Beach, California. © 2011 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.

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