The State's Incentives
State funded health care necessarily incentivizes the state to increase the number of abortions, the practice of euthanasia, and the availability of contraceptives. The state is also perhaps paradoxically incentivized to regulate with great precision the habits of its citizens with specific regard to food, alcohol, tobacco, and exercise. This brief commentary will explain why this is the case and some of the first order ramifications for our culture.
One must begin with a clear conception of the nature of the modern state. The state is not a charitable organization with infinite resources, but a bureaucratic machine whose goal must be to efficiently collect and redistribute the wealth of its citizens. This collection and redistribution process is necessary to maintain the services (like health care) and programs the state provides for its citizens, for the state cannot create wealth and prosperity <i>ex nihilo</i> – persons create wealth and the state can only subsist off the wealth of these persons. The state has a budget and it must maintain its budget and eventually pay its debts, or the state will risk war with lending countries. In all of this it is clear that the primary interest of the state is not its citizens but money or wealth, for the collection and redistribution of money is the state’s modus operandi.
The state is interested in increasing abortions for the following, hopefully intuitive, reason. Abortion causes the death of an individual person, and death in general alleviates the financial and technical burden of the state (the less people within the state’s provision, the more effective the state’s control can be). The death of the young and the death of the old are of particular interest to the state, because these groups of people require the most care and the most money.
It follows from the same logic that contraception, which cuts off the source of life, is highly regarded by the state. The state may even have an interest in increasing the availability of contraception in populations that are particularly burdensome to the state. The state has an interest in maximizing the number of contributors to the state’s wealth, and also maintaining or minimizing the number of people who are dependent on the state. Contraception helps the state attain this goal.
Finally it is worth mentioning that this also applies, maybe especially, to the practice of euthanasia, which no doubt will be legal in our country soon. Old people are perhaps the most expensive to care for, and so they will be the most expendable. This will be further justified by the state’s alleged virtue of alleviating the suffering of its citizens, its true motives obscure from common public view.
In abbreviated terms, the state has an interest in minimizing the number of people for which it is responsible, and will accomplish this goal through the means of abortion, contraception and euthanasia. But this is only one half of the picture, only one means by which the state controls its citizens. The second is more insidious but less morally serious.
Let’s say you eat too much sodium. Too many cheeseburgers, or something. You will eventually require expensive health care, which is the responsibility of the state. But the state does not want to pay for your bad habits. It needs to reduce the money it spends, and so it has to regulate sodium consumption. But it doesn’t regulate abortion because abortion eliminates the need to provide care for anyone in the first place. I suspect sodium is just the first in a long line of things that will be regulated. “It’s for the common good!”
The state is thus concerned with the de-regulation and indeed proliferation of some things, and the precise regulation and control of others. The state is both liberal and illiberal, but it is above everything and directs the affairs of everyone. In the process it fosters a culture that is opposed to traditional morality and common sense. All people of good faith and good will ought to oppose the very far-reaching actions of the state. Limited government is a public good not because the government is evil but because there are practical limitations on what the government can be expected to do without having to disrespect the dignity of the human person.