I recently finished the second book in Allen Steele's Coyote series, 2004's "Coyote Rising."
We're eight pages from the end of this 382-page science fiction novel. The outnumbered space colonists have managed to defeat and ship home the invading Earth army that tried to impose communism on the planet Coyote. Guerrilla leader-turned-president Carlos Montero walks the streets during the fireworks celebration of the first "First Landing Day" since the successful revolution, musing to himself:
"How far they'd come. Clean streets, no more trash along the sides of the road. ... A long row of wind turbines just outside Shuttlefield providing electrical power to everyone. A new infirmary, with free medical care guaranteed for all. A schoolhouse was going up soon."
Is it unfair for me to pick on Mr. Steele? His "Coyote" series is diverting, reasonably action packed, filled with interesting characters. Presumably economic and political rigor are not high on the list of what makes for popular science fiction, these days.
So I was willing to overlook Mr. Steele's pathetic if trendy hysteria over Earth becoming virtually uninhabitable a few decades from now due to "global warming," as well as the clever notion that a Dixie-based fascist dictatorship will soon arise in America under an outfit called the "Liberty Party" which will give its spaceships names like the "Jesse Helms" and the "Newt Gingrich," from an author whose characters repeatedly "shove a cartridge" into their rifles and then race outside to cut down enemy soldiers with three-shot bursts.
(Mr. Steele uses the word "cartridge" when he means "magazine" at least three times. Mr. Steele decided to write a book featuring lots of gunplay without asking anyone what you call that removable box-shaped thing with the follower spring that carries those little cylinders of brass and lead. It's a "magazine," not a "cartridge.")
Author Steele does have a partial excuse. Mr. Steele lives in Massachusetts, where Gov. Mitt Romney signed a "permanent" ban on semi-automatic so-called "assault weapons" on July 1, 2004 (the year the book in question was published) saying "Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction for the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."
Like redcoats? I believe Gen. Gage told the residents of Lexington and Concord pretty much the same thing about arms of military usefulness in 1775. And neither the 2nd nor the Fourteenth Amendment mentions "recreation," the operative phrase being "the security of a free state." The only thing Mr. Romney failed to do to really get his point across during that signing ceremony was to unzip his fly and pee on the Capitol statue of the Minuteman.
It wasn't the first time. When Romney ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah residents who had jumped through every hoop to acquire a concealed-weapon permit found they were not allowed to carry their self-defense weapons at Mitt's big United Nations Winter Games, because that might "frighten the foreigners," despite the terrorist murders at the 1972 Munich Games, which were a direct result of the suicidal victim disarmament policies in place there.
But back to Allen Steele's "Coyote Rising." We'll also leave aside the windmills, one of the most intermittent, inefficient means of power generation known to man.
But I draw the line when an author who just spent an entire book portraying the evils of slave-driving collectivism, and a victory over same by wily and courageous freedom fighters, ends up by telling me the victorious freedom fighters have just set up "a new infirmary, with free medical care guaranteed for all."
How would "free medical care" work, exactly? You have a condition requiring visits to the doctor on a weekly basis. Over the period of a few weeks, you notice every time you go to see the doc for some follow-up medicine, she's growing weaker, more frail. Finally, when you go back the third or fourth time, you find her lying cold and still in her office. Because the medical care was "free," no one was paying her and she died of starvation.
Is that what anyone means when they refer to "free medical care guaranteed for all"? Of course not. No, Mr. Steele's victorious "freedom fighter" must, inevitably, mean that everyone within reach would be taxed to fund this "free" medical care, probably with those who work hardest and save up the most being taxed most heavily.
There will always be some treatments and medicines so costly and hard to acquire that they can't be provided to all who want them. The best solution is rationing by price. Consider a couple who are tempted to sweep the supermarket shelves of bottled water at 99 cents a gallon because they heard a storm was coming and they got to the store first. Ten minutes later, a couple arrive with a baby who will die without formula, for which they need two or three gallons of purified water. Sorry. Sold out.
But if a "greedy" storekeeper had jacked up his price to $20 a gallon, the first pair of discretionary buyers probably would have settled for the four gallons they're likely to really need, leaving plenty for the couple who would happily pay the higher price to save their infant. Rationing by price delivers rare commodities to those who value them most highly, while teaching the young that there are proper rewards for those who work hard, prioritize and save for a rainy day.
Socialized medicine is socialism, collectivism, communism. It drives the best people out of the profession, makes fools of those who work hard and set aside for the future, substituting government rationing by "need," which leads inevitably to mob scenes, which can be thinned out only by death panels. Schemes like RomneyCare and ObamaCare just take us closer to the Soviet model by small steps. That's what they're designed to do. "I happen to be a proponent of single-payer universal health care coverage," Obama told the AFL-CIO in June 2003.
If the Republicans aim to repeal ObamaCare because it's socialist, why have they never tried to repeal Medicare and Medicaid, the huge steps toward single-payer socialism that have caused most of the problems that RomneyCare/ObamaCare pretend to solve? Because they're the two interchangeable branches of the big-government Republicrat Party.
And the huge highway signs as you drive into Massachusetts still say, "Have a Gun, Go To Jail."
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and author of the novel "The Black Arrow" and "Send in the Waco Killers." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com.