The fight over nationalized health care is at the heart of a larger societal battle over the role of the individual. At stake is whether individual health care choices will be subservient to the state's larger health care interest by forcing the individual to submit to state control of the most personal aspects of one's life in exchange for health care security and benefits.
I call this system "Ghimmitude."
Unlike the system of Dhimmitude, this has nothing to do with religion. But the concept of a recognized alignment of power between two groups (here, the state and the individual) based on recognized control by one group (here, the state) is similar.
Ghimmitude is not based solely on the handout of government benefits, although that is part of it. Rather than focusing on people trying to get something for nothing, which has taken place since the beginning of time, the system of Ghimmitude requires that in exchange for getting something for nothing the individual give up some measure of freedom.
While the final details of the Democratic health restructuring plans are not complete, the alignment of power is clear. A draft Bill released by the House contains an elaborate system of penalties, fines and taxes meant to compel compliance by individuals and individual employers with an elaborate system of health care mandates based on what is best for the nation.
The mandates as of now are only broad strokes, with the details to be worked out in regulations by a politically appointed Commissioner. Although not yet part of the Bill, it is likely that many of the critical and politically difficult health care reduction (i.e. cost-cutting) decisions will be outsourced to a politically-appointed, unimpeachable panel. The key concept throughout the Bill and other Democratic proposals is compulsion and a loss of control by the individual for the greater good.
We accept the loss of some freedom for the greater good in many aspects of our lives. Submitting to a screening at the airport is one example. But intimate health care decision-making traditionally has been an exception.
The irony is that those most willing to submit to government power on health care issues are those least likely to submit on other personal freedoms. The same people who scream bloody murder at the thought of the NSA intercepting phone calls between likely al-Qaeda operatives in the U.S. and a cave in Northwest Pakistan without judicial approval, are at the forefront of the health care Ghimmitude movement. In exchange for being given free health care benefits, such people are willing to have their medical records turned over to the state, and to have an unelected and unimpeachable commission decide who shall live and who shall die by virtue of deciding which medical procedures and medicines are cost effective for the nation.
While the proponents of government-controlled health care look forward to the day when they can turn their medical records over to the state, they guard their phone records with religious zeal.
Ghimmitude: "A peaceful surrender to the state in exchange for health care security and benefits, based on accepting the inferiority of the individual and individual rights."
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