Paul Krugman tried to slam Ron Paul in his most recent column by writing:
Back in 1980, just as America was making its political turn to the right, Milton Friedman lent his voice to the change with the famous TV series “Free to Choose.” In episode after episode, the genial economist identified laissez-faire economics with personal choice and empowerment, an upbeat vision that would be echoed and amplified by Ronald Reagan.
But that was then. Today, “free to choose” has become “free to die.”
I’m referring, as you might guess, to what happened during Monday’s G.O.P. presidential debate. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Representative Ron Paul what we should do if a 30-year-old man who chose not to purchasehealth insurance suddenly found himself in need of six months of intensive care. Mr. Paul replied, “That’s what freedom is all about — taking your own risks.” Mr. Blitzer pressed him again, asking whether “society should just let him die.”
And the crowd erupted with cheers and shouts of “Yeah!”
Ah, but what was Ron Paul’s response? Here is the full transcript:
Wolf Blitzer: You’re a physician, Ron Paul, so you’re a doctor, you know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question: A healthy, 30-year old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, “You know what? I’m not going to spend 200 or 300 dollars a month for health insurance, because I’m healthy, I don’t need it.” But something terrible happens. All of a sudden, he needs it. Who’s going to pay for it if he goes into a coma? Who pays for that?
Ron Paul: In a society that you accept welfare-ism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him…
WB: What do you want?
RP: …but what he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would be to have a majormedical policy, but not be forced…
Here, Ron Paul was clearly going to say the person should not be forced to buy insurance by the government (crucial context), but CNN’s Wolf Blitzer rudely interrupted him:
WB: But he doesn’t have that. He doesn’t have it, and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?
RP: That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. [Applause] This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody… [Applause]
WB: But, Congressman, are you saying the society should just let him die?
RP: No! [A few audience members shout “Yeah”. Laughter.] I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid in the early 1960s, when I got out ofmedical school. I practiced at Santa Rosa Hospital at San Antonio, and the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals! And we’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves, assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it. This whole idea—that’s the reason thecost is so high! The cost is so high because we dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy, it becomes special interests, it kowtows to theinsurance companies and the drug companies, and then on top of that, you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar. We have lack ofcompetition. There’s no competition in medicine! Everybody’s protected by licensing. We should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to practice what they want! [Applause]
So Ron Paul actually responded with a firm “No!”, but Krugman relies upon a couple of shouts from the audience in an apparent attempt to impugn Paul by making him seem heartless. Krugman was no less dishonest as he continued, saying that:
[A]fter the crowd weighed in, Mr. Paul basically tried to evade the question, asserting that warm-hearted doctors and charitable individuals would always make sure that people received the care they needed—or at least they would if they hadn’t been corrupted by the welfare state.
But Ron Paul didn’t “evade” the question at all. He answered it with a firm and direct, “No!” And he didn’t offer some hypothetical of what would be true if there was no welfare state, in terms of health insurance, he stated the fact of what was true before the welfare state came to be, which makes Krugman’s next comments all the more dishonest:
Sorry, but that’s a fantasy. People who can’t afford essential medical care often fail to get it, and always have — and sometimes they die as a result.
So, again Krugman would have his readers believe Ron Paul was offering ahypothetical about what would be true if the situation was different, when in truth he was stating the fact about what was true when the situation wasdifferent. Sorry, but that’s not a fantasy. That’s history. Notice how Krugman deliberately says this isn’t true today, which — his intentions to mislead his readers as to Ron Paul’s actual response notwithstanding — actually reinforcesRon Paul’s point that before the government got involved, hospitals never turned away patients and that private individuals or communities took care of the costs.
Krugman next attempts to portray…
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