Two difficult court cases protect the public's health

By Phil Plait | February 25, 2011 11:57 am

Two interesting court cases relevant to medical reality came up recently.

1) Yahoo news is reporting that a judge has thrown out a case where lawyers wanted to use religious and alt-med exemptions as an excuse to not get health care. People were claiming that they had faith that God would heal them in times of sickness, and that forcing them to get health care was an attack on that belief. There are a lot of things wrong with this — for example, they weren’t being forced to actually get health care, just insurance — and to be frank, this sort of thinking constitutes a major health risk to the population. It also smells very much like a fishing expedition on the part of people against universal health care, using religion as a "get out of critical responses free" card.

I’ve said this before: as an American I am not thrilled with the government telling me what I have to do or not do, but there are times when the greater good must be considered… and considered very carefully. Slippery slopes are treacherous. To some people "the greater good" is a phrase used to justify way too much, but it also is part of the Preamble to the Constitution. It’s why we have government in the first place. And when it comes to public health threats coupled with a large number of unskeptical people, it definitely comes into play.

Tip o’ the tort to Fark.

2) The Supreme Court has ruled that a family claiming their daughter was injured by vaccinations cannot sue the manufacturer. It’s a bit of a complicated situation, but Orac has a breakdown. There’s a lot of rhetoric flying around, and while Orac’s discussion is a bit lengthy it’s well worth your time. The bottom line is that there is so much antivax nonsense out there that companies making vaccines are at big financial risk to produce them due to potentially costly litigation. This represents a huge health risk — vaccines save millions of lives — so several years ago a special court system was set up to handle vaccine damage claims. This new ruling protects that system.

To me, this whole compromise of a special court is the best that we can hope for given how strong the antivax movement is, and how vast a public health threat it is. I’d rather we didn’t have to have a special court to handle these lawsuits, but the reality is that we need it if we are to protect people from diseases which would resurge if the vaccines were to stop being made and distributed.

It breaks my heart that so many parents are out there looking for answers for their children’s illnesses, but we cannot abandon all reason and all science because of it — in fact, we must stick with the evidence and science-based medicine all the more strongly. If we don’t then billions of dollars will be wasted, and, far worse, a specter will rise once again of many more deaths due to preventable diseases.

MORE ABOUT: antivax

Comments (56)

  1. Miko

    “It’s why we have government in the first place.”

    No it isn’t. We have a government for the purpose of enforcing the property rights of the rich. Or did you think it was a coincidence that every signer of the Constitution was a property-owning (and often slave-owning) aristocrat?

  2. Vern

    I got a flu shot today. :)

  3. Chris

    There is the story in the Bible where Jesus is being tempted by the devil. The devil asks Jesus to throw himself off a cliff and then the angles would catch him. Jesus tells him, no way I’m not stupid. (I’m paraphrasing here a little) The moral is not to put God to the test and also use some common sense. Heck that’s why we have traffic lights. Fortunately we don’t have people driving while napping and running red lights claiming God will protect them. So why do they do the same thing with medicine?

  4. Tom B

    Miko must skip a lot of the big words on this blog.

  5. autumn

    @MIko,
    Yes, at the time, although attitudes and philosophies about what constituted the “greater good” were transitioning to a more liberal space, the old ideas about greater good were still around, thus being, to some degree, abetted by the otherwise liberal Constitution. However, the ability of the Constitution to change in order to follow the stream of ever-increasingly liberal interpretations of the “greater good” was allowed by the deliberately open-to-interpretation language of the document, as well as the ability of the document to be amended.

  6. Craig

    The American fear of the ‘slippery slope’ of universal health care is bewildering and at the same time frightening to the rest of the world.

    Not being refused basic medical care because you can’t afford it is a Basic Human Right. Right up there with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, is freedom to not be turned away to die because you’re poor, to not go bankrupt because you get sick or injured.

    Of all the money spent by the US government, is spending money to keep people alive really the issue? Of all the ways the US government exerts control over its people, is legislating that no person ever be refused basic healthcare, really what keeps its populace up at night?

    The wags speak of a slippery slope of government control. Honestly, if you could see yourselves from the outside, you’re at the bottom of a very, very deep hole of government control. But have you really looked at the value to the citizenry of those controls? Does ensuring the basic human right to life really not crack the priority list of ‘control’ vs value?

    What is government for if not to protect its citizens right to life in addition to their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

  7. Chris

    Stupidity is stupidity. If you believe in God, you must believe that he gave us a brain to use it to help ourselves and our world. Medicine is a part of that.

    On the subject of universal healthcare…. never before has the government successfully proposed that every single American be compelled to buy something (health insurance) in order to be an American (they will penalize you if you don’t buy it.) ( Auto insurance doesn’t count … you CAN walk or ride a bus.) Many states don’t even require that you have a ID card or any kind. (In Ohio they can’t ask you to prove who you are in order to cast a vote at the ballot box.) In light of the opposition to universal healthcare, it doesn’t surprise me that this tactic is being attempted. It’s only one in a long list of possibilities to attempt to throw out the law.

  8. BJN

    Pacifist religion members pay taxes that go to the military. Believers who shun modern conveniences pay for technological research and infrastructure they’ll never use. Everybody who lives in a country will be taxed or required to purchase things they’ll never use or that they object to on moral grounds. This modern culture isn’t a good place to be if you want to live in the dark ages with nothing but your belief in an invisible friend to protect you. Life’s tough all over.

  9. Gus Snarp

    There’s a reason the Slippery Slope is a fallacy.

  10. government telling me what I have to do and the greater good are orthogonal concepts. The Beltway’s contained clown car of criminal incompetence, its alphabet soup of domestic terrorism, its Parliament of Whores and Oval Office feckless crapweasel, would have you medically disassembled into transplants or killed on foreign shores in a New York minute without remorse.

    Are you lucky that all they want, today, is the totality of your wallet plus future earnings? Tomorrow… SSS Form 1M with OMB Approval 3240-0002 “MEN 18 through 25 REGISTER” “It’s Quick – it’s Easy – it’s The Law.”

  11. Jay

    I agree with you Phil, on #2, but I disagree with you on #1. While I’m appalled when an ignorant buffoon sites religious reasons for not taking care of their child properly, these 5 people in the suit are, I believe, all adults and (theoretically) capable of making their own decisions. On that basis, I don’t think that they, or anyone of adult age, should be forced to get insurance. I just don’t believe that it’s my governments job to protect me from myself. Now, the logical extension of that belief is that these people, if they they show up at a hospital should be required to either a) write a check right then to cover their care (or I suppose Visa or Mastercard would work equally well) or b) they are turned away. If that means they die, then oh well. They, as adults, made a decision to forgo insurance because they believe that some other entity will protect them. Fine. Let that entity do the job when they start bleeding and let the doctors get on with those of us to believe in a bit of realistic planning.

  12. TRex

    Mandatory insurance and religion are the 2 biggest scams perpetrated on human kind.

  13. BJN

    @Jay…nobody’s going to give hospitals the right to turn away people who can’t pay, at least not for emergency treatment. Practice a little realism and instead of pretending there’s a libertarian philosophy or ideology that can be consistently and fairly applied to everyone, let’s try rational pragmatism for a change. None of us operate independently of the culture and infrastructure that we live in. Tax me to educate the ignorant and require everyone to pay for medical insurance one way or the other. That’s realistic.

  14. G

    “but Orac has a breakdown”

    I was envisioning the link leading to Orac freaking the hell out.

  15. Thopter

    @Uncle Al: “Beltway…. would have you medically disassembled into transplants or killed on foreign shores… without remorse.”

    Citation? Evidence backing up your loony statement?

    Are you so against helping others that you’re even against the idea of transplants? When I die, if my body is still of use at that point, I certainly do hope that whatever is still usable would be transplanted to help those who need it. I sure as hell won’t be needing it anymore at that point.

  16. GregB

    @Uncle Al
    Thanks Uncle Al! You’re post just helped me win a game of “Tea Party Paranoid Catchphrase Bingo”.

    It’s really hard to win that game if you only talk to people who’s thoughts are firmly based in reality.

  17. Julie

    Phil, this may be a minor nitpick, depending on how one defines the terms, but ‘greater good’ isn’t listed in the Preamble of the US Constitution (or anywhere in the Constitution). I think you might have been referring to ‘general welfare’, which, depending on who you talk to, would mean something entirely different.

  18. CB

    Practice a little realism and instead of pretending there’s a libertarian philosophy or ideology that can be consistently and fairly applied to everyone, let’s try rational pragmatism for a change. None of us operate independently of the culture and infrastructure that we live in. Tax me to educate the ignorant and require everyone to pay for medical insurance one way or the other. That’s realistic.

    Even many libertarians believe in the concept of Enlightened Self-Interest, and only very foolish ones believe that there are no consequences to themselves if they don’t worry about the health, safety, and education of others.

  19. Murff

    I think this is more about people who know they will never be turned away for treatment from a hospital, so they figure why pay all that insurance. All they need is a legal way to pull it off….Wa La! Religion!

  20. Joseph G

    I wonder, how how all this anti-vax hysteria affected the general cost of vaccines? How much more money have poor people had to fork over for a potentially life-saving treatments, simply because a bunch of insulated, wealthy, self-assured, critical-thinking-impaired doofuses have carried on this charade for so many years?

  21. Charles

    as an American I am not thrilled with the government telling me what I have to do or not do

    I would hope that as an adult you would understand that the government already tells you a long list of things you must or cannot do. Register for the draft, pay taxes, drive on the right side of the road, obey speed limits and traffic lights, refrain from stealing or damaging the property of others, refrain from physically assaulting and especially killing other people, avoid impersonating police officers, perform jury duty, and so forth. We can and frequently do disagree on the fine points of these things and whether or not they are truly for the greater good (for instance, I believe current American drug policy to be irrational, inhumane and self-destructive, since it apparently exists only for the benefit of the prison industry), but the underlying principle is solid. In this case, as you recognize, herd immunity is important enough to trump the individual’s desire to take their own risks, because by taking their own risk they’re also forcing the rest of us to take a collective risk.

    We allow the government this degree of control over ourselves because it’s in our common self interest. For an example of what a country without this would look like, libertarians are invited to take a vacation in Somalia.

  22. Joseph G

    @#6 Craig: The American fear of the ‘slippery slope’ of universal health care is bewildering and at the same time frightening to the rest of the world.

    Gah! Tell me about it. For some reason, we’re perfectly happy with corporate interests buying everything out from under us, including our elected representatives and unpolluted air, but mention Universal Healthcare and its OMG Deyr gunna kill me with deth panelz111!!!

  23. Ray

    Phil, if the people who don’t want healthcare because they believe God will provide, why should they be forced to buy insurance? Assuming they never use the healthcare system because of their beliefs, why should they be forced into it?

    If you don’t have a car, you don’t buy insurance.

    Phil, do you pay insurance on the motorcycle you don’t have?

  24. Sam H

    These events I heartily support (even though universal vs. private healthcare is not as big an issue here in Canada), but I’m a little uneasy with the discussion about freedom of religion, and find myself agreeing with both Phil and #11 Jay (not a case of doublethink, though ;)). While we can’t deny the right of people to say the world is going to hell, how far can we let that go before that turns into violence? While the Qur’an burners were obviously loony and somewhat uncivilized, the media reaction was crazily knee-jerk – if they’d never been discovered, then no violence in the Middle East by angry Muslims would have ever happened. Apparently Fred Phelps and his clan had done the same burning ritual the year before, and a number of other fundy groups have participated in likewise acts. Basically, we must protect the right of the people to be crazy, but not to be violent. But this would justify storming WBC to remove their children and put them under better care (there are multiple accounts of Fred Phelps involved in physical child abuse, Richard Dawkins notwithstanding). But even if this is confirmed, he believes the bible justifies this – and there is a little bit of a slippery slope with the state vs. parent issue there, as much of a fallacy as the slope may or may not be.
    I’m in full agreement otherwise, but we should be more concerned with protecting the ability of vax suppliers to create their substances, and not the protection of profit (if what I think I picked up there is correct). Almost certainly a non-issue, but we must always keep it in mind – the profit we MUST protect is the well being of ourselves and our children.

  25. Mike G

    @Chris

    I’ve seen that argument a whole bunch of times, and it just ain’t so.

    Every American has always been required to buy certain services, such as military protection or Central Intelligence, from the government or with the government as intermediary. You are not allowed to skip paying taxes and just not use it, even if it is in direct conflict with your religion or, say, you’re a pacifist. Or you think KBR is a scam.

    The basic problem with “opting out” of health insurance is that it isn’t really an opt-out of the benefit (at least, not completely). Only the cost. It’s illegal to refuse emergency care, even if there is no possibility of ever being paid. This results in people showing up in emergency rooms at great cost and great disruption for nonemergency reasons.

    Now, you’re right that the government hasn’t required *direct* purchase of a product from a third party, but the distinction reduces your argument to one rather strongly in favor of single-payer. Is that really what you meant?

  26. OtherRob

    @Gus Snarp, #9

    There’s a reason the Slippery Slope is a fallacy.

    How is a concern for the possible consequences of taking a certain action a fallacy? Why do you suggest that arguing about the potential consequences of an action is an invalid form of debate?

  27. Ron1

    @26. OtherRob said, “How is a concern for the possible consequences of taking a certain action a fallacy? Why do you suggest that arguing about the potential consequences of an action is an invalid form of debate?”

    ………………………………………..

    Well, maybe because the slippery slope is (generally) speculative – an endless stream of possible outcomes. However, if you can demonstrate a real link between the action and its consequence, then the argument is not fallacious

  28. QuietDesperation

    I have no opposition to some form of universal care, although I tire of the advocates for a “European style” system. Er, which of the dozens of different systems are you referring to? There are quite a few mixed public/private systems over there. There’s a couple I find attractive, but I can’t be bothered to look up which ones they were.

    But if you really do not understand why some people might have an opposition for more government control over anything, well, you are either completely enshrouded by your own ideology or you honestly have not been paying very close attention to the world for your entire time on this Earth. As folks said in the other thread, these types of issues are complicated. If you are dismissing people’s concerns by labeling them with some political term you might as well go live in Flatland. You’re thoughts are missing entire dimensions.

    If you don’t have a car, you don’t buy insurance.

    Wow. Bad car analogy. :-)

    So you don’t buy health insurance if you don’t have health? Can’t argue with that. Dead people really don’t need insurance, although I did once buy some ectoplasm coverage from a shady guy in a train station. :-D

  29. QuietDesperation

    Well, maybe because the slippery slope is (generally) speculative – an endless stream of possible outcomes. If, if, if … (my favourite being, “if my Grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon”).
    How can you debate that?

    Er… debate and speculation generally go hand in hand, sport. I know some people want the diagrams they show in college logic texts to actually function in the real world, but reality is a bit more fuzzy and complicated. You can’t always logic your way out of every crisis to a perfect solution.

    If a person can establish point A (where we are) and point Z (the point they fear we will reach), and *then* establish points B, C, D and so on a long the way, establishing what they feel are logical steps on the path to Z, you could easily debate that. Honestly, I think that’s why we have so many unintended consequences from legislation- people are scared away from arguing possible negative outcomes and refining the bill a bit more before going to vote.

    For reference: http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/slipperymag.pdf

  30. Ron1

    @29. QuietDesperation.

    Darn, I edited that out and yet there it is. I also have to admit that I’m not happy with my final comment because, you’re right – it was stupid!

    So, here we go … Jeez Ron1, that was really, really stupid, as in, it’s one of the stupidest comments I’ve seen in a while — Moron!

  31. me

    The US government already spends more on health care per citizen in schemes like medicare than the UK and many other countries that have a full blown national health service do.

    It just doesn’t spend the money well and so the US has one of the lowest life expectancies of a developed country.

    Given the purchasing power that it has and the money it already spends, the US government should not be consistently providing appallingly low levels of free healthcare. And it most definitely should not need to bring in an expensive new insurance scheme when it already has the available budget to do the job properly.

  32. Chris

    @ Mike_G

    Your missing the point… because they couldn’t pass government healthcare (and pay for your insurance via taxes … which all the things you cited are paid via….) The government is actually requiring that you pay for something regardless of your income potential or capability. Sure they’ll “give” insurance to those who can’t afford it but for everyone else….. look at Hawai’i…. they “required” all employers provide health insurance long ago…..

    What happened…. Hawai’i went from 8 insurance carriers to only two (one of which is an HMO…sucks) and the premiums are more than double what healthcare costs on the mainland are. For employers, the cost is 40% more (I checked) than it is for a private individual….. and guess what…. maternity coverage is not available for individual plans at any price (can’t happen.) When government tries to help….. they end up screwing it all up.

    So when my wife got pregnant last year…. I had to actually “start a business” for her as the only employee just to have her pregnancy covered (as a business plan.) Government must stay out of our lives as much as possible. Hawai’i is the direction the “universal healthcare” folks want us to go…. no choices, no personal control of your healthcare, poor quality of care…. We’re already living it and it’s a bloody disaster.

  33. me

    @ “Hawai’i is the direction the “universal healthcare” folks want us to go…”

    No, that is the way the people with their paws in the honeypot want you to go.. unfortunately your government is so myopic that it can’t see any way of providing public services without putting the interests of lobbyists first.

    Many other countries manage to get free healthcare and paid maternity leave from the state without having to give most of the money involved to financial services companies.

  34. Regner Trampedach

    Chris @ 7 and Ray Says@ 23: That is exactly my point (but I make it a bit differently): If you have a car you have to pay car insurance, ergo, if you have a body you have to pay health insurance. Why is this concept so hard to understand.
    Cheers, Regner

  35. Svlad Cjelli

    @ Tom B – “Miko must skip a lot of the big words on this blog.”

    Mm, big words such as “we”. I’m assuming neither Miko nor Phil were part of the original group of signers of the constitution.

  36. QuietDesperation

    It just doesn’t spend the money well and so the US has one of the lowest life expectancies of a developed country.

    Er… agree with the first part, but the reasons for the second part are myriad.

    Modern society is irreducibly complex (although *without* an intelligent design), folks, and needs to be treated as such if you ever hope to progress anywhere.

    Japan has had public healthcare since the late 1920s.

    Life expectancy of the average US male: 74 years
    Life expectancy of males in Japan: 78 years

    Ah ha! Right?

    Life expectancy of Japanese American males in the US: 80 years

    Oops.

    It’s not a simple thing. I’ve seen some studies that indicate universal health care access and life expectancy are not very well correlated at all, and that other factors are much stronger indicators. These factors can be things like diet (a huge one), gang warfare and even traffic death rates.

  37. me

    “the reasons for the second part are myriad.”

    fair point.. correlation != causation and all that.

    Though as far as the figures for Japanese Americans go, they are mostly the descendants of relatively recent voluntary migration, the majority being since 1965, and so would usually tend to be richer than the average of both the society that they are in and the society they or their ancestors originated from.

  38. Other Paul

    @34, kinda agree with your sentiment, but your argument doesn’t wash because there’s a ‘before’ to consider. Yes, to “if you have a car” and yes to “if you have a body”. The entailments are reasonable. But you can choose to not have a car. That’s maybe why the concept is so hard to understand.

  39. Colin

    @Charles:

    We allow the government this degree of control over ourselves because it’s in our common self interest. For an example of what a country without this would look like, libertarians are invited to take a vacation in Somalia.

    Um… maybe you were thinking anarchists? You know, those who don’t want government. Not to be conflated with libertarians, who want a government focused on liberties.

    They look the same, but Anarchists believe that bad faith actors won’t take advantage of the system or that it’ll serve the victims right for being somewhere they could get killed without a gun handy. Oh, and meanwhile, they believe that property is a myth.

    Libertarians believe the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property, as all true liberals should, and that governments are the number one thief of all three worldwide so they must be constantly kept in check. And they believe that property is sacrosanct, but that intellectual property is a myth. You can’t hold onto an idea, it’s impossible once it is out, it multiplies. Which is why Coca Cola and KFC don’t rely on patents to protect their secret recipes.

  40. Radwaste

    I sure wish more of you would learn about the terms “health care”, “insurance” and the like, and apply some definitions. I don’t think those terms are being used consistently.

    But, rather than whine, I have suggested a solution.

    If you don’t like this one, well, beat it!

  41. Ron1

    @32. Chris Says:

    Government must stay out of our lives as much as possible. Hawai’i is the direction the “universal healthcare” folks want us to go…. no choices, no personal control of your healthcare, poor quality of care…. We’re already living it and it’s a bloody disaster.

    ………………………………………………………………………………

    Chris, I’am an truly sorry that you’ve had the experience you’ve had.

    However, you are certainly not living universal health care and therefore you are wrong to call it a bloody disaster.

    What you are living is a clusterf@#$! that exists because democrats did not have the guts or the unity to push through universal health care. I know the difference because I’ve lived with universal health care (Canada) all my life (52 years) as have my family members and friends and I am generally very happy with it.

    On the other hand, family members in the US (US Citizens in Maine, California and Louisiana) are generally not so happy with their health care system and those who are bitch about the high cost. Regardless, they all wish they had my system.

    As for your other points, I have almost total control over my health care. I choose my doctor via appointment or I can go to a clinic and take whomever it get (or I can request a doctor and wait).

    The doctor doesn’t just tell me what to do, I work with him or her to meets my needs. Of course, if I need a specialist, then my doctor will arrange for that and, because I usually don’t know the specialist, that’s fine with me. If however, I prefer a specialist, then my doctor will arrange that specialist, if the specialist is taking new patients. I am in control.

    As for quality of care, it’s been generally excellent. Where it hasn’t, I’ve worked with the doctor to address the issue and it gets worked out. If it isn’t worked out, then I am free to see another doctor, and there is no charge. As well, be careful about arguments about the exception (ie. those rare times when the system screwed a patient over. While rare, they have happened and they fly to the top of the media heap and become the example of universal health care in general – they’re not, the system works well.

    As well, where services are not provided by universal health care (ie. dental care or breast implants for Halloween), I am free to purchase these services — and they are probably covered by my supplementary health care plan provided by my employer. If you’ve got the money, you are free to purchase whatever you want, but you might have to travel outside the country if you don’t want to line up for high demand services (which go to those in greatest need, first).

    So, if you’re not happy with your system, don’t blame it on universal health care. I live it, and it’s great.

    Cheers

  42. To some people “the greater good” is a phrase used to justify way too much, but it also is part of the Preamble to the Constitution.

    <nit>
    Well, the actual phrase is:

    provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare

    </nit>

  43. Radwaste

    “I am in control.”

    No. Not when you don’t pay. You’re mistaking a current level of availability and congruence with your wishes for “control”. You shouldn’t do that.

    And the lament, “because democrats did not have the guts or the unity to push through universal health care” leaves out a crucial difference between the system you’re describing and the American attempt: ours has criminal penalties for trying to go elsewhere for treatment than the Government-approved service.

    Sick? The clerk is not sick. Fill out this form.

  44. I have always understood that vaccines carry a small inherent risk of severe reactions or even death, rather like a lot of medications. Since they save so many more lives than they destroy, (and are not very profitable for their manufacturers) then they deserve exemption from lawsuits as long as quality standards aren’t violated. They are just about the only preventative medicines that the ol’ drug giants make. If I have FDA-type complaints, I sure wouldn’t start with vaccines.

    I think people would trust vaccines a lot better if the FDA would square up with the problems in the food industry and quit nitpicking with companies that advertise the nutritional benefits of their products. The food we eat today is higher-output, lower quality stuff than people ate decades ago. It’s more inflammatory; how about some standards for processing soy? I know the population is growing, what are you gonna do? Tell the public how it is. It’s got to be MSG for breakfast, lunch and dinner? That I don’t understand. I could show you how I react to the stuff any day of the week. Rickets symptoms. They shouldn’t be allowed to hide it.

    Can’t add the public water to the fishtank, or fish go belly up. Good ol’ flouride, strengthens your teeth. Flushing the toilet with it, washing the clothes, the car, the dishes — but it’s got to be in ALL the water so hopefully your kids will swallow some and have stronger teeth. Wait a minute… why don’t we just drip flouride drops in their glass of water and save the friggin fish? C’mon, environmentalists! [crickets chirping]

    What do they want, people to just have a little more trust? I wonder what they could do different? Hmm…

  45. flip

    #23 Ray,

    If you don’t have a car, you don’t buy insurance.

    Phil, do you pay insurance on the motorcycle you don’t have?

    The difference here is that you can’t buy a motorcycle by chance. You can, however, get sick by chance. You can’t accidentally drive a motorbike; you can ‘accidentally’ get cancer.

  46. OtherRob

    @Ron1, #27:

    Sorry I didn’t respond to this sooner, but, well, life and all that…

    Well, maybe because the slippery slope is (generally) speculative – an endless stream of possible outcomes. However, if you can demonstrate a real link between the action and its consequence, then the argument is not fallacious

    I agree that a lot of people will use ridiculous “slippery slope” arguments to oppose something — coming up with the worst, most absurd possible outcome. But I don’t believe that a slippery slope argument is inherently flawed or that calling someone’s objections “a slippery slope argument” invalidates their concerns. Which is what Gus Snarp seemed to be doing.

    I believe it is perfectly valid to be concern about the eventual outcomes of any action and that they are valid avenues for discussion.

  47. Ron1

    @43. Radwaste said, “I am in control.”
    “No. Not when you don’t pay. You’re mistaking a current level of availability and congruence with your wishes for “control”. You shouldn’t do that.”

    and,

    “And the lament, “because democrats did not have the guts or the unity to push through universal health care” leaves out a crucial difference between the system you’re describing and the American attempt: ours has criminal penalties for trying to go elsewhere for treatment than the Government-approved service.”
    ………………………………………………………………………………….

    I think you’re splitting hairs, and a little paranoid to boot.

    If you want absolute control, then no, the Canadian Universal Health care system is not going to give you that – nor should it.
    However, the supplementary, for profit system that exists along side the universal system might give you that, for a fee. Regardless, if you’ve got the money, you are free to travel anywhere in the world to purchase whatever medical service you want, and then come home and have the universal system clean up the resulting mess and perhaps save your life, for taxes paid and nothing more.

    In the end, I don’t want the sky. I just want quality health care in a reasonable time with my dignity intact (and that’s where a feeling of control come in). If I feel that I’m in control, then I’m in control — anything else doesn’t matter.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………

    As for the second part of your comment … like I said, rather than finishing the process and ramming through a system that works, they’ve left you with a clusterf@#$! .

    cheers

  48. Ron1

    Jeez, this editing box is really frustrating.

    How do you people get the formatting (ie. indented paragraphs, bold, italics, etc.) into your comments?

    Using a word processor to cut and past doesn’t work and editing while in moderating mode is a big boo boo (as I found out above with @29 and @30.

    Thanks

    ……………………………………………………………..

    @46 OtherRob

    Thanks.

    Yeah, after I made the comment I realized it was pretty dumb (see my @30 for my resulting self flagellation.

    I tried to delete the damn thing but I couldn’t and, in the end, I just said to heck with it (see my comments just above this.)

    Cheers

  49. tresmal

    Ron1:

    How do you people get the formatting (ie. indented paragraphs, bold, italics, etc.) into your comments?

    Use HTML tags. The format is simple “<”, tag, , “>”, text you want to edit, “<”, /tag, , “>”
    Example: type < i > italic < /i > and the result should look like this: italic. Other tags are: b ,/b for bold, u, /u for underline , and blockquote, /blockquote for

    quotes

    .
    Here’s a primer: HTML for the Conceptually Challenged

  50. Ron1

    @49. tresmal

    Thanks much.

    Of course, this means I can use a word processor and make comments as long and convoluted as MTU. :)

    Cheers

  51. Hugo Schmidt

    I’ve said this before: as an American I am not thrilled with the government telling me what I have to do or not do, but there are times when the greater good must be considered… and considered very carefully. Slippery slopes are treacherous.

    Quite. I’m on the side of this couple, though not for the asinine reason that they gave. If they don’t want to buy insurance, that’s their concern. Since when is it the proper role of government to tell people what they should by?

  52. Doc

    I wonder if people who refuse all medical care on religious grounds brush their teeth.

  53. Keith Bowden

    @Hugo
    Um, always. For many professionals and businessmen, you must buy a license (among other qualifications). Businesses must purchase liability insurance. Individuals must buy vehicle insurance to legally operate the machines. Want to build something, even if it’s your own property? Gotta get the permits. Etc.

    Now, is this a “proper” governmental role? I think it may fall under the “general welfare” in the Preamble, or at least that’s the philosophical reasoning for such requirements. Doesn’t mean I agree with the health insurance requirements (is anyone going to arrest the homeless if they can’t provide proof of insurance?), but “proper” or not, there’s precedence. :)

    @Doc
    Hahahahahahahahaahaaa! :D

  54. Yojimbo

    Doc @52 – No, I’m sure they believe god will save their teeth.

  55. AndrewEMCameron

    I live in Canada. We have universal health care here. I am not a rich man, in fact most would consider me poor. I take care of myself, try to stay healthy, and for the most part I succeed. But when something happens. Something I didn’t expect [like lopping off a finger at work] it is nice to know that I can go and have a professional sew me back together and that money won’t be an issue because I paid my taxes.

    I INVEST in my health. Yes there is a chance I could go through my roughly 80 years of life and never use the healthcare I paid for, but that is ok. Maybe Jim won’t be as lucky as me and will get sick. There you go jim, have some healthcare on all the rest of us.

    Perhaps it is because I have always lived in this culture with this type of healthcare but I don’t see how that security is a bad thing. I don’t understand how you could not want that security for yourself.

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