I originally wrote this in 2009. Seems timely again.
One worrisome aspect of greater government involvement in health care is the politicization of health care, which would allow the government indirectly to punish critics, oddballs, and any others that are deemed undesirable. Obamacare is nothing short of giving the government the power to destroy the lives of individuals without any due process whatsoever through the hazy and easily manipulated realm of “psychological institutionalization.”
This might appear, at first, kind of paranoid. This is America, after all. But it’s not unprecedented. The Soviet Union declared political dissidents as mentally ill rather than having formal charges pressed through the criminal justice system. Even in that sorry regime, it was easy for state evil to fly more easily under the radar in the medical field rather than in traditional law enforcement. The Soviet Union’s doctors locked decent men up for many years in mental wards. The state-paid psychologists did the bidding of the Communist Party in the end.
In the Soviet Union, where the government was the sole employer, the notion of professional independence had disappeared. The state swallowed up every group or institution that might provide some locus of resistance–the wealthy, private property, private industry, free speech, education, labor unions, professional guilds, and the Orthodox Church. In these circumstances, lone individuals had very little power to stop the state’s destruction of private life and were often themselves deemed “difficult” individuals suffering from mental illness. All in the name of creating a socialist utopia. The same trend of increasing government power over our lives is underway in the United States today.
It may be objected that there is a strong culture of professional independence and concern for patient welfare in the American regime. How viable is this alleged protection? For starters, whatever ethic prevails today depends on the about-to-be-destroyed system of fee-for-service, which will be eroded to nothingness under the influence of Obama’s “government option.” Obamacare will require government approval for payments to doctors for the majority of patients and further encourage conformity to government-dictated “best practices.” It may go something like this: “Well, you doctors can do whatever you like doctor, but we’ll only pay for X, Y, and Z. Govern yourself accordingly.”
Even today, it’s not so clear that the purported ethic of physician responsibility provides effective protection for patients. Drug companies, for instance, have created a serious financial incentive for doctors to prescribe particular drugs to patients, regardless of their effectiveness, their own lack of expertise in psychological illnesses, or the desirability of therapies that do not involve mind-altering drugs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of mental health. Hitherto unknown diseases like “shyness” now are declared sicknesses that require expensive drug treatments. Primary care physicians with no time for time-consuming counseling instead hand out Prozac and Paxil like candy canes. According to Forbes, “We now spend more on mood-altering drugs for our children, including antidepressants, than we spend on antibiotics.” This is a scandal.
We have also witnessed psychiatrists in particular gladly assist the military, the police, and industrial organizations with an eye towards institutional goals like effective interrogation, screening of employees, and the creation of systems that promote worker productivity. Institutionalization of people was once the norm, as too is a habit of experimentation, including in the abuses of lobotomies in the middle 20th Century right here here in the United States. Patient welfare is secondary in all of these well established practices, and the proximity of the abuses should give pause to those that call critics “paranoid.”
What historical or ethical limit would prevent careerist doctors from also engaging in punitive diagnoses of “authoritative personalities” and labeling conservative “sickos” under Obamacare? What would prevent the creation of new diagnoses such as “homophobia” or pathological conservatism? After all, such politicized definitions of mental health and long-term involuntary incarceration of political dissidents happened under the long-standing socialist medical regime in history, that of the former Soviet Union.
The world is more politically correct than ever. To a great extent, we’ve become desensitized to the brainwashing and indoctrination of liberal group-think in corporate and academic settings. Why wouldn’t medicine also be abused? From diversity seminars to the scandalous sub rosa euthanasia that takes place in hospices to the anti-life practice of abortion, the potential oppressiveness of liberals knows no boundaries, because it’s not limited by the conscience: it imagines itself to be good and promoting the good of all; therefore, dissent can be dismissed and classified as an expression of hate, racism, and, most sinisterly, “sickness.”
We must consider all the possibilities of evil under the Obamacare regime. The potential abuses of Obamacare will not be spelled out in the plan. Instead, the plan must be reviewed critically in light of the times, the dilapidated state of medical ethics, and the sorry history “repressive psychology” in the world’s longest-running experiment of government-run healthcare.