Spork replied inline to my comment on his blog post on his blog. I'll do the same but post here as well. As there's no new post on his side outside of complements on my photostream which certainly does roxxor, massive tip of the hat to the clever folks at A/A.
* Spork claims in a comment on my previous blog on this topic that the government couldn't do it better because insurance companies only make about 3% profit. This somehow reminds me of a large graphic put out by the oil industry that showed that 100% of the dollar spent on gas went to various different places and oddly none of it was profit.
The problem here is that it's simply false. Medicare, the US's current socialized medicine engine, has about a 5% overhead and private insurance has a 17% overhead (though the numbers are really closer to 3% and 30% let's just run with these numbers), that means that certainly if you weren't paying massive salaries to the top industry brass (that's an expense and doesn't count as profit) they could cut the prices rather dramatically. There's a lot more overhead due to inefficiency in the system and lack of good organization, massive departments dealing with the departments of the various other companies in order to get through different forms to get the money, because of non-single payer situations. There's none of these billing issues or any such things with the fire department. They just go where they are needed and put out the fire. Just as healthcare should fix the health problems that arise with various individuals.
Warning, addressing the point Spork bothered with is long and very involved. For your own sake you'd be better off taking the fact that he's deluded on the profits insurance companies make as the entire reply because to answer the rest of his question requires a tearing down of libertarianism and a building up of morality and to an extension socialism.
Spork continues by advocating that he's so stubborn and pigheaded that you could argue with him back and forth dozens of times and he'd never see the light (I'm paraphrasing here), and so he decides to focus on just the point of the constitution and individual rights. I suddenly smell a Rand whore argument brewing. What's next people should fix their own roads and watch establish various anarchy teams of people who go around with goop and trowels out of necessity to not have their roads completely disintegrate while other people benefit and they get nothing for their services.
This is the core of his argument. His philosophy of libertarianism and opposition to socialism as an undemonstrated group good in exchange for a real and tangible set of personal freedoms. The dismantling of libertarianism and establishment of morality or socialism is going to take a little bit to address.
How things work.
Morality, economies, and governments don't work like that. You really need to have collective rules in place to restrict the powers of businesses from ruining the lives of people. Such things are Economic Darwinism and the invisible hand of the market is the same as the blind watchmaker of evolution. Much as the hand of the market tends towards making monopolies and collusive business practices not everything in nature is benign. To the contrary, most everything in nature is a parasite living off the work of others and doing very little itself. In nature the sun provides energy and plants absorb this energy and everything lives off the plants. In a way Rand's philosophy understands this and treats the genius people who read her book as the intellectual producers who are only not rich solely because the government is around leeching off the brilliance of these intellectual producers like leeching leechers to support those who are weak and cannot support themselves.
This is critically wrong in a variety of ways, not limited to the fact that the real intellectual producers of our economies are scientists making chump change. But, in a larger sense it seems to reject the the real core of what makes humanity excel. It rejects the cooperation of humanity to advocate that the best result are found in a battle for the fittest, no holds barred fight to the death. This is wrong.
In reality, we should seek for economy what the advent of morality did for humanity. We should seek to cooperate more, in social groups and domesticate the markets. Just as we're better off as a group making roads and fire stations and police because these are things that everybody needs and they can't be coherent and functional without central authority we should seek to place the health of humans outside the purview of profit businesses. We should seek to make those sections of our life, on which everybody need rely, akin to farms or hydroponic greenhouses, restricting pests and parasites and engineering the systems to provide the most bang for our buck rather than the most buck.
It is in the best interests of all people to go along with the group. Much like morality allows us to coexist in functional groups by restricting individual rights sometimes by force and preventing crime and deviation away from certain set norms. The same applies to fire departments, roads, and yes, healthcare. The fact that I seem to be drifting towards is that it socialism is an extension of morality. Which is to say that socialism is in the best interests of people, that collectively, as a group, we can make everybody more wealthy and more prosperous than we could as individuals. Just as in a group we make everybody safer and healthier when we surrender our personal rights to kill other people and steal their things.
Ultimately the libertarian section of the argument boils down the the tangible difference between living in a moral society where we simply refuse to kill each other, enslave each other, or steal each other things and we are thusly endowed by ourselves the inalienable (though easy to alienate) rights of life, liberty, and property as a consequence of surrendering our rights to murder, enslave, and steal.
The difference between a moral anarchy where everybody is out for themselves but not harming others and anything else is the single difference of taxes. The moment you decide that levying taxes to protect yourselves as a group, to defend yourself as a group, both physical and economically. The moment you decide to build roads, build schools, build firehouses, build hospitals, fund science, put shows on PBS, or settle disputes between people you've moved away from the ideal anarchy and established government. But, make no mistake, without these infrastructure concerns there is no enforcement outside of the casual approximation this shares with mob rule (which one could argue is still socialized enforcement). And when prosperity dwindles the moral precepts which allow for life, liberty and property breakdown and people turn to "crimes" (of readopting rights to murder, enslave, and steal that they previous surrendered) as their personal interests are better served outside of group mores. I do not believe that anarchism in this fashion because mob-like quasi-governments would form and spontaneous groups of individuals who could in some cases go beat a rapist to death couldn't successfully defend the anarchy against larger breaches of economic and social power. I have long maintained that far left anarchists and far right neo-conservatives have the same goals but completely different understandings of the consequences of achieving those goals.
With government everything changes, and everything can easily be made significantly better if it's done correctly. One can socialize industries on which everybody depends, saving the group as a whole, a significant amount of money, we can promote science which is and always has been the fuel that runs our economy. We can establish schools to give children the benefit of an education. We can regulate the markets so we do not suffer monopolies or trusts. We can endeavor as a people to be a better people. We can progress forward just as we progressed forward when we gave up our rights to murder, enslave, and steal. To work not simply with our own shortsighted goals in mind but the best interests of the group and the individual. And while we must allow for a specter of force by the government, and corruption of a government by the people, we are all easily better off for it. And while one may think that without morality we should go around killing and murdering people because we'd be out for our own selfish interests the opposite is true within group dynamics. We must seek to cooperate with others and not kill or murder people, but also as a group restrict the powers of others to kill or murder.
Ultimately we cooperate as groups for our own benefits, and this implies forming governments to restrict the rights of others. Just as we restrict the rights of people to murder others, we should restrict the rights of people to profit from the illnesses of their fellow man.
The group good is neither unseeable nor unprovable. In fact, it's quite demonstrative. We can see the benefits such restrictions in places where profiting from illness and death is unacceptable. And see that all the metrics of quality of life are improved and with 44,000 deaths from lack of medical care, it's pretty easy to see that there's certainly room for improvement. That there's definite advantages for non-profit government run monopolies. Though to be fair, the advantage is from non-profit monopolies and you don't really need the government to run it.
Purpose of the Constitution
The constitution was more oppressive than the Articles of Confederation and gave greater central authority to the government which, in turn, had more powers. The Bill of rights were added to restrict the power of the government in very specific ways. The fact is the Constitution was written to give more central authority because decentralized authority was a complete failure. The opposition shouldn't be against government power but corruption, inefficiency, lack of accountability, failure, and intrusion on public rights. We shouldn't oppose universal single-payer healthcare, we should oppose the war on drugs and the fact that as a people we can't do away with that unneeded largess or legalize marijuana or somehow have citizens have veto powers on the rights of marriage of certain individuals. There are problems with government, with this there is no disagreement, however those problems aren't with socialized programs like, schools, healthcare, or fire departments but rather more tangible problems like corruption, inefficiency, and failures.
And bringing it back to the actual argument.
As for the original point, yes fire departments are very much the same as medicare.