So a while back I was in a stickam room having a conversation with dasamericanatheist about socialism and after putting forward my idea of why I think socialism is immoral, because it argues that the individual should be a slave to the collective, he responded with a moral lifeboat scenario as an argument for socialized healthcare.
Let’s say that someone begins choking and you are the only person there who has any chance of administering the heimlich maneuver and saving their life. Without you, that person will die. Should you be allowed refuse to help them if they do not pay you?
First, I think the question is too vague. Let’s first ask, would this be murder if you refused? I would argue no. Killing is something that is very different from letting someone die. When you kill someone, you are initiating a set of actions that lead to someone’s death. When you let someone die, you are initiating no such actions (assuming the thing that is killing them has no causal link to you). The second, I suppose, would then be, is this wrong? My answer would be that this is subjective.
Let’s examine this economically. Let’s say you go to the hospital and you have a life-threatening illness that, if left unaddressed, will cause you to die. If the doctor offers you his services (the time of his labor, the equipment to examine you, the medications or surgery to treat you) for the cost of those services, plus enough for profit, he can then use that profit to invest in more doctors, equipment, and medications so that he may help more people. If he offers his services for free, he will have no such investment and instead you will be an opportunity cost to him in the sense that he could be treating a paying customer, but is treating you instead. So although your free treatment led to your life being saved, it could very well lead to the lives of dozens of others being lost due to you being a drain on the healthcare system rather than a contribution to it. This isn’t necessarily an argument against charitable offerings of free healthcare, which I am all for, but simply an analysis of the economic implications.
But lets get back to the fundamental ethical argument. Let’s say there is no cost to you in saving someone’s life. Should you be punished if you refuse to and let them die? I don’t think so, at least not in the form of aggression; that is to say taking away your life, liberty, or property. But I can indeed see plenty of room for social punishment. Who would want to associate themselves with someone who committed such a douchy move? People are free to associate, and disassociate, with whoever they want. If you do something that is morally repugnant to people, then of course they will blacklist you, and the more universal that moral sentiment, the more universal that blacklist would be. No more electricity. No more plumbing. No more groceries. Good luck living alone.
But this is all talking in theory land anyway, because the lifeboat scenario does not match up with the argument that is being made for socialized healthcare. In the analogy, there is no cost to you in saving the persons life. In a socialized healthcare system, that cost is very real and exemplified in the much higher taxes you’d have to pay. And this is all ignoring the fact that the free market would be able to offer the service of healthcare at a higher quality and cheaper price and that there would be charities for those who couldn’t afford basic coverage.
What are your thoughts?