How much government do we really need? (Part 1)

Think about this for a minute:  Just how much government do we really need?  Do we need “more” government or do we need “less” government?  In some cases government appears to be a “negative” in that it benefits some people while at the same time a larger number of people now lose out because of government actions.  Take the issue of health care in general…  Do the laws passed by government benefit the majority of people or just a minority of people?  Prescription laws for example are of more benefit to doctors than their patients.  The doctor gains in that he or she can extort money from the patient in exchange for granting the patient “permission” to purchase medicine.  The doctor can force the patient to make unnecessary office visits, have lab tests, all because the doctor enjoys the power of prescription laws.  Without these laws the patient most likely would not visit the doctor anywhere as often as the doctor would like.  The doctor’s income would be less, while the patient on the other hand would retain more of his or her income to spend as he or she wishes.  So there is a conflict here between the doctor who wishes to earn more income and the patient who would prefer to retain more of his or her income and not hand it over to the doctor.  However the government operating on behalf of the doctor gives the doctor the legal power to grant permission or not grant permission to the patient to allow the patient to purchase medicine.  In this aspect the doctor has the role of “gatekeeper” over the supply of medicine.  A power granted to him or her by the government.  Which brings up the next question?  Why did the government give this power over the supply of medicine to doctors in the first place?  Before 1938, doctors did not enjoy this power.  The patient was free to purchase medicine on his or her own, or to ask the assistance of a druggist at the drug store where the patient was buying the medicine.  However the doctors (this being during the Great Depression) were unhappy with the low level of their incomes, so acting through their professional association (think labor union) the AMA, lobbied Congress to pass a law (supposedly for the public good, but we know whose “good” this was for) that people would have to obtain a prescription from a doctor in order to purchase medicine.  This of course gave doctors added income they hadn’t had before this, but on the other hand added additional cost to everyone else.  There is a legal term for this:  It is called “extortion”, and generally it is a crime to do it unless the government has given you “permission”.  In that case the law acts on your side, and also makes anyone who attempts to get around the law a criminal.  As a matter of fact you can be arrested and sent to prison for obtaining medicine without a doctor’s prescription!  The very same medicine that you could legally buy if you did have a doctor’s prescription!  So the law exists not to “protect” you from harmful drugs, but favors the doctor who thus stands as a “policeman” regulating what you are allowed to do!  To a Libertarian such as myself, this type of thing appears to be a prime example of political corruption of a sort that should not be allowed in a democratic society!  No one should be given this sort of power over others unless there is a serious danger to society in general.  And I don’t think blood pressure medicine qualifies as a “dangerous drug”.  The same is true of most medicines.  Taken in the recommended dosages, medicine is generally not dangerous to your welfare.  And even if it is, like cigarettes, that doesn’t mean it should be illegal to use it.  After all, we do any number of things that can be dangerous in some cases.  But unless the activity is dangerous to everyone who does it and also endangers other people, we are generally allowed the freedom to make these decisions for ourselves.  Which is another reason why prescription laws should be repealed.  There is no good reason for them in a free country where citizens have constitutional rights that government is prohibited by the Bill of Rights from interfering with!

Jerome Bigge

Muskegon Libertarian

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About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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