post by Bill Gardner
Please do not misread the question. I am not asking whether modern Republicans want members of the public to be healthy. Of course they do.
What I am asking about is Public Health as a discipline and a social project. Do they believe that health has some of the characteristics of a public good? That is, do they believe that there are cases in which individuals making decisions in the market will not successfully coordinate their behavior to support the institutions that underlie public health? That we may need government for vaccination, sewers, monitoring of epidemics, monitoring of the safety of air and water, ..., on through public insurance?
Public Health and individual liberty are in mild but real tension, and liberal societies find ways to balance utilitarian and libertarian concerns. I wonder, however, do the current group of candidates accept any government role in the promotion of public health?
I am particularly struck by Rep. Paul's comments about charity and health care in the video above. When you eat in a diner, it is not unusual to find a jar or a box below a homemade sign, asking for contributions to help pay for the cancer care of a child of a local family. It is heartwarming when you see that people do contribute. But it is also terrifying, as one knows full well that the contributions gathered this way won't even be a rounding error in the cost of the child's care. But mostly, like my Canadian and European friends, I am shocked that we put our neighbors through this.