Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Canadian healthcare shows that human freedom is an individual issue

This week the Fraser Institute released a new book authored by 13 people titled Towards a Worldwide Index of Human Freedom. Contained within the book is a new comprehensive index of human freedom in which Canada places fourth in the world, tied with Ireland and Australia, sounds pretty good.The US places seventh.

Here is what the Fraser Institute says about its report: "Our new report measures the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties—freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, association and assembly—in 123 countries. We also look at indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms."

I have a great deal of respect for the Fraser Institute and I'm sure their new report, done in conjunction with Germany’s Liberales Institut, is as accurate and comprehensive as possible.

The problem I have, and have always had with these types of reports is that rights and freedoms don't really apply to groups or countries, they are in fact individual. So you may be free in Canada to do many things, but if you are blocked from doing just one thing, that harms no one else, then you are not really free. For example, the "rules" around healthcare in Canada are simply Draconian.

The video below also comes from the Fraser Institute. In it, Dr. Brian Day of British Columbia, talks about healthcare in Canada. He points out that Canada is the only country on Earth "which outlaws the right of citizens to spend their own money on their own healthcare" when they want to. In fact, in parts of the country, clinics are fined heavily if they treat "uninsured" patients (patients who pay outside the system), and in Ontario, any patient that "jumps the queue" (and there are many, many queues) can be fined $10,000. What kind of freedom is that?

I don't consider either the Fraser Institute or Dr. Brian Day as representing the principles of libertarianism, you will no doubt be able to pick out why in the video. However, the healthcare system is so broken here, that I believe any movement in the direction of a freer market for healthcare is a step that I can support. Dr. Day makes a persuasive argument, and the issue of healthcare freedom will be in front of the courts later this year.    

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