What exactly is the libertarian position on access to health care, anyway? And can we please knock off the Road to Serfdom crap? It’s dangerous.
Nature recently published a paper on “degrowth”. Libertarian economist Donald Boudreaux immediately attacked the paper with his usual collection of pro-market, anti-government arguments. Fine. But then Boudreaux published a letter he got from Daniele Struppa, president of Chapman University. Here is a brief excerpt:
It is just a manifesto for a deindustrialization of the west, filled with naïve and simplistic comments. For example “it is necessary to ensure universal access to high-quality health care”. Nobody disagrees, but do they realize that such health care requires expensive doctors, expensive medications, expensive machinery (MRI, CAT, etc.)?
Nobody disagrees? I’m pretty sure Boudreaux disagrees. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but I’ve read a lot, and I’ve never seen him say anything that suggests he’s even in favor of a decent social minimum when it comes to health care, never mind “universal access to high-quality health care.” In fact, a reasonable person reading Café Hayek could suspect that Boudreaux opposes providing any public health insurance for the poor, even if without insurance poor children would regularly die of easily preventable or curable illnesses. If Boudreaux does favor high-quality public health insurance for the poor, he’s done a good job hiding it.
I strongly suspect I’m not the only one who doubts the commitment of libertarians to universal health care. If Boudreaux and his fellow travelers do believe in a strong safety net, they should tell us.
Struppa concludes with this:
But what is even more sad is to see that most of the authors are very successful and highly published and highly cited academics. This tells us that this is not a fringe movement. It is a movement that, in Gramsci’s words, has accomplished the long march in the institutions, and now controls funding, publications, etc.
This is paranoid nonsense, on a par with the unhinged notion that COVID restrictions were putting us on The Road to Serfdom. There are some people on the left who are hostile to capitalism and growth, and even (I suppose) some who favor “deindustrialization” (it is not clear to me that the authors of the “degrowth” paper fit this description). They are not a fifth column, and they have not taken over our institutions. They certainly have not taken over academic economics.
Is it possible that crazy leftists could take over the government and turn us into Venezuela? Sure. But it’s highly unlikely; much less likely than, oh, I don’t know, a right-wing President trying to overturn an election, or right-wing plutocrats working to thwart even the most limited efforts to control global warming.
Apocalyptic rhetoric like Struppa’s and Boudreaux’s encourages right-wing extremism and aversion to democratic compromise. They should take a deep breath.