Letter to The New York Times

To the Editor:

Advocating universal health care, Steven Safyer, M.D., hopes that "the next administration will see the wisdom of acting — not just talking — so Americans get the care they deserve." (Letters, Nov. 6)

What evidence is there that Americans do not now "get the care they deserve"? Material deserts are earned, not given by nature. In the case of health care, the fact that even POOR Americans consume other things so abundantly casts doubt on the supposition that this land is crowded with people who are denied health care that they deserve. Consider, for example, that today 80 percent of POOR households have air-conditioning (compared to only 36 percent of ALL households who had it in 1970); 75 percent of poor households today own a car, and 31 percent own two cars; the typical POOR American has more household living space than does the typical Parisian and Londoner; and nearly 80 percent of POOR American households have a VCR or DVD player.*

Someone who voluntarily purchases X instead of Y - where X is widely regarded as less vital than Y - cannot legitimately be said to deserve Y.


Donald J. Boudreaux

* Robert E. Rector, "How Poor Are America's Poor?" Heritage Foundation, August 2007

Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser.