Week of October 1, 2000




If you want to have an idea of just how far America has moved toward the left, toward the total regulation of your life, consider the following.  The entire election for president appears to hinge upon a single issue: the state (translation: you) paying for prescription drugs for your older neighbors.

Alarmingly, we now have the spectacle of both major candidates for president arguing over how much the government should pay for prescription drugs, not over whether it is right for the state to forcibly take other people’s money in order to redistribute it to others in the form of payments for prescription drugs.  This unseemly—and, more significantly, unashamed—advocacy of the plundering of your bank account has pushed this nation one more step toward the totally socialized society.   This is the politics of plunder, brought to you by both Gore and Bush.  Each is vying for the top spot over which one of them can forcibly yank the most money from your back pocket.

In a pattern that has become a political cancer eating away individual freedom, statists are once again seeking a government remedy for a problem originally created by statist regulations and mandates.  The antidote for the high costs of prescription drugs is not more of the same poison—statist regulations—which created those high costs.  The proper treatment for this statist created malady is a healthy dose of freedom, not more regulations and not more government theft of your hard-earned dollars to buy the votes of those wanting your money for drugs.

Prescriptions—mandated by statist laws—should be abolished.  If this were done, the price of drugs would drop dramatically.

Morally, you have a right to buy any drug (or anything else) you wish, as long as you can find a willing seller and as long as you have the money to make the purchase.  A "right" means: you may act without seeking the permission of others.  A law requiring that you get a prescription in order to purchase a drug is a violation of your rights, since you must seek permission from the legally designated controller (your physician) of the drug before making the purchase.

Now consider the practical consequences of making certain drugs off limits to you, unless you have a prescription.  Prescriptions effectively take certain drugs (the prescribed drugs) off the free market: you are not free to buy and the seller is not free to sell without the permission of the state-designated authority.  This is nothing more than a form of rationing of drugs by the state.  And the fact that these drugs are not available on the free market is one of the principal reasons for their high costs.   The other reason for the high cost of prescription drugs is the fact that pharmaceutical companies are heavily regulated and are not free to bring drugs to the market in a more timely and cost-effective manner.

What would happen to the price of food if it were controlled in the same manner as prescription drugs?  Under this scenario, food would become a "controlled substance."  Only state-licensed food outlets would be permitted to sell prescription food.  In order to get the food, you would have to go to a state-licensed dietician to get your prescription for the food you want.  The cost of your food has already gone up since you must pay for the visit to the dietician and pay for the trip to and from his office.  But the actual cost of food items has skyrocketed because you can no longer buy a loaf of bread at the corner grocery store or at Wal-Mart.  You can no longer buy vegetables at the roadside stand.  Such competitors have been locked out of the market, leaving the government-licensed stores free to charge higher prices.

The fact that prescriptions are the main reason for the high cost of these drugs is proven by recent history.  Virtually every drug that had previously been a prescribed drug and was then later made available without a prescription (such as Zantac and Rogaine) dropped dramatically in price.  I have had personal experience with this phenomenon.   While I have never used Rogaine (although I need it), I used to take Zantac.   As a prescription drug it was very expensive (over a dollar per pill), but once it became available on the free market, the price dropped by more than half.

Those whose minds have been infected by statism will cry: "If drugs aren’t prescribed, some people will misuse them and suffer, even die, as a consequence."   Well, it is true some will misuse these drugs and some will suffer serious consequences, including death, as a result of being foolish enough to use a drug without checking with their physician.  But the point is this: in a free society, you are responsible for your actions and you must pay for the consequences, for better or for worse, of those actions.

In a free society, you are not permitted to force others to pay for your mistakes and bad judgment. In a free society, you pay the price (suffer the consequences) for the drugs you use, the food you eat, the booze you drink, the cigarettes you smoke and for anything else you do (or don’t do, such as not exercising or controlling your weight) in your life.  It is not the proper function of government to protect you from your own ignorance and/or bad judgment.  And it most certainly is not the function of government to use its power of force to make you pay for the mistakes (or the needs) of others.

The best prescription for the so-called prescription drug problem is: no prescriptions.

Fulton Huxtable
October 2, 2000

Copyright 2000 Fulton Huxtable