Is Discrimination Always Wrong?

In response to Gutter Ball Master’s post, “Dr. Paul May Do Harm“, I offer the following article as rebuttal. I do not claim to be in total agreement with it, but I present it as an opposing viewpoint.

I Favor Discrimination

“If ever anyone wants to discredit me, he can cite the title of this article. I am giving it away on a silver platter in order to make one point: Freedom includes the freedom to discriminate. Discrimination is nothing more than making distinctions and being selective. Without discrimination, freedom to choose is an empty exercise. I favor the freedom to choose. Therefore, I favor discrimination. Not only do I favor discrimination, I discriminate constantly. And so does everyone else.”

It should be noted that the good doctor rejected the law on privacy, federal ineptitude, states rights, and constitutional authority grounds. Here’s his defense in his own words, emphasis mine (Fedora Tip to Chronicles of Dissent).

“Madam Speaker, the supporters of H.R. 493, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, are right to be concerned over the possibility that third parties, such as the government or potential employers, will access an individual’s genetic information without consent, and use that information to deny an individual health insurance or other benefits. I have long advocated repealing government laws and polices that allow third parties to access personal information. For example, I have worked to repeal the provision of Federal law giving the Federal Government the power to assign every American a ‘unique medical health identifier.’ I also support repealing the phony ‘medical privacy’ regulations that give law enforcement officials and state-favored private interests the right to access medical records at will.

Because of the Federal Government’s poor record in protecting privacy , I do not believe the best way to address concerns about the misuse of genetic information is through intrusive Federal legislation. Uniform Federal mandates are a clumsy and ineffective way to deal with problems such as employers making hiring decisions on the basis of a potential employee’s genetic profile. Imposing Federal mandates on private businesses merely raises the costs of doing business and thus reduces the employment opportunities for all citizens. A much better way to eliminate irrational discrimination is to rely on state and local regulation. Unlike the Federal Government, states and localities are able to tailor their regulations to fit the needs of their particular populaces. I would remind my colleagues that 34 states currently ban genetic discrimination in employment, while 46 states forbid health insurers from engaging in genetic discrimination. Clearly, the states are capable of addressing this issue without interference from Washington. My colleagues should also remember that Congress has no constitutional authority to forbid private sector employers from making hiring or other employment decisions on the basis of genetic information.

“The best way to address the sponsors of H.R. 493’s legitimate concerns is to put individuals back in control of the health care dollar. When individuals control the health care dollar they, not their employers, insurance companies or Health Maintenance Organizations, can make all health care decisions, including whether or not to share individual genetic histories with a potential employer, insurer, or other third party. Therefore, instead of creating more Federal regulations and bureaucracies, my colleagues should increase individual control of health care by passing legislation expanding Health Savings Accounts and individual health care tax credits and deductions.”

Comments 5

  1. gbm3 wrote:

    Yes, we all discriminate. It’s by what criteria that makes the problems. In Aff. Action, it is wrong to discriminate by race, but it is not wrong to discriminate by ability or academic performance.

    I understand Dr. Paul’s strict constitutional stance regarding the powers of the Fed’s. However, I have already aired my disagreement with his stance in part (regarding income tax laws).

    “The best way to address the sponsors of H.R. 493’s legitimate concerns is to put individuals back in control of the health care dollar. When individuals control the health care dollar they, not their employers, insurance companies or Health Maintenance Organizations, can make all health care decisions, including whether or not to share individual genetic histories with a potential employer, insurer, or other third party. Therefore, instead of creating more Federal regulations and bureaucracies, my colleagues should increase individual control of health care by passing legislation expanding Health Savings Accounts and individual health care tax credits and deductions.” Rep. Paul

    Giving individuals the opportunity to “share individ. genetic histories” basically gives the insurance companies the opportunity to jack up health care costs of individuals with genetic problems to a point where they and their employer or the taxpayer cannot afford them. Yes, this discrimination will lead to deaths before the other states without GINA get on board with GINA, if they ever do.

    States do have laws to undermine this practice, but in the open market, in reality, when this genetic discrimination gets more widespread, the insurance companies will increase premiums statewide in the states with these GINA laws.

    In order to get consistency, a federal mandate is necessary (just as there are for/against abortion). GINA of 2008 does this.

    Posted 27 May 2008 at 4:33 am
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    “Giving individuals the opportunity to ‘share individ. genetic histories’ basically gives the insurance companies the opportunity to jack up health care costs of individuals with genetic problems to a point where they and their employer or the taxpayer cannot afford them.

    No, voluntary sharing of genetic information would allow people without genetic time bombs to get a break on insurance costs. The only law I’m inclined to support would prevent insurance companies from requiring genetic profiles. Even then, I’m not certain. Insurance sales are measured risks. In order to be a viable business, companies have to be confident that they will not be expected to pay out more than they charge (in toto, not per customer). Some people are better risks than others. Someone with a strong genetic predisposition to a nasty disease that’s very expensive to treat is a very bad risk. Christian charity would demand that someone help those folks out, but it’s immoral to force anyone to do so. Forcing insurance companies to accept bad risks is wrong.

    Posted 27 May 2008 at 7:43 am
  3. gbm3 wrote:

    In order to be a viable business, companies have to be confident that they will not be expected to pay out more than they charge (in toto, not per customer). … Forcing insurance companies to accept bad risks is wrong.

    I’ve been thinking about this quote for a while. I keep on coming back to the airlines in my head (I pass BWI and Reagan Nat’l everyday). What would happen if the airlines were able to cut costs by not keeping their airplanes safe? People would die. The government has a hand in the airlines business to safeguard lives. It’s similar to insurance, it doesn’t matter what the cost; people, no matter what their genetic makeup need affordable health care. Plus, if they don’t, we’ll all be paying for it in some form or another in the long (or even short term).

    Christian charity would demand that someone help those folks out, but it’s immoral to force anyone to do so.

    First, by nature, laws force people to do or not do things. You’ll probably say that forcing people to do or not do things in general is wrong, but I disagree, and so does the law.

    Second, who specifically will help these folks out when no one will pay for their medical bills? Catholic Charities and others can only do so much. The government isn’t the people’s best friend, but at least this law (GINA) will stop technology and knowledge from killing some.

    I don’t believe in survival of the fittest for our fellow humans. We should help our neighbor be fit in some way. Our gov’t reps. helped do that with GINA.

    Posted 29 May 2008 at 9:53 pm
  4. Funky Dung wrote:

    “What would happen if the airlines were able to cut costs by not keeping their airplanes safe? People would die. The government has a hand in the airlines business to safeguard lives. It’s similar to insurance, it doesn’t matter what the cost; people, no matter what their genetic makeup need affordable health care. Plus, if they don’t, we’ll all be paying for it in some form or another in the long (or even short term).”

    I apologize if this sounds to snarky, but I’m not sure you could have picked a less apt analogy. There is a distinct, and I would have thought obvious, difference between laws that guard public safety and laws meant to ensure general public health. Laws regulating airplane safety ensure that corners aren’t cut. If corners are cut, people are likely to die. Laws regulating health care have no direct impact on life and death. They only aim to promote good health for citizens. Put another way, making sure a vehicle is safe to ride in isn’t the same as telling you what doctor to go to and how much to pay him.

    “First, by nature, laws force people to do or not do things. You’ll probably say that forcing people to do or not do things in general is wrong, but I disagree, and so does the law.”

    Law isn’t some monolithic thing. Some laws prescribe. Others proscribe. In my opinion, laws should be mostly of the latter type, and the fewer the better. Laws are meant to insure order. That doesn’t have to be done by force.

    “Second, who specifically will help these folks out when no one will pay for their medical bills? Catholic Charities and others can only do so much. The government isn’t the people’s best friend, but at least this law (GINA) will stop technology and knowledge from killing some.”

    High tech health care is not a right. Besides, charities did quite well helping the poor get adequate health care before the State stuck its ugly nose into the situation. If charities seem unable to handle the burden these days, it’s because they’ve atrophied through disuse. After all, why help charities do what the welfare state will do for others?

    “I don’t believe in survival of the fittest for our fellow humans. We should help our neighbor be fit in some way. Our gov’t reps. helped do that with GINA.”

    Absolutely. By all means, we should help our neighbor be fit, but we should do so as an assembly of Christians. Helping the less fortunate is not the job of the State. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. Caring for the poor or genetically unfortunate is not the government’s job. It’s Christians’. I will not render unto Caesar what is not rightfully his.

    Posted 29 May 2008 at 10:43 pm
  5. gbm3 wrote:

    Laws regulating health care have no direct impact on life and death. They only aim to promote good health for citizens. Put another way, making sure a vehicle is safe to ride in isn’t the same as telling you what doctor to go to and how much to pay him.

    I totally disagree. “Laws regulating health care” do indeed have “impact on life and death.” It may not be direct, though. As a said before,

    In addition, parents with children with negative genetic makeup would be forced to drop their children off their insurance. Some parents would probably even be forced to abort their children so they (the parents) could have insurance. (So much for safe and rare.)

    Your analogy with the “vehicle” is also not valid. The main payment in question is the payment to the insurance companies. If GINA was not enacted, individuals and families would not be safe in that they couldn’t afford healthcare and that some parents would rather kill their children (which is directly unsafe) than not have insurance for themselves.

    The vehicle/FAA analogy is not the same, but it does bring together the life saving aspects of both (as above).

    Posted 03 Jun 2008 at 10:51 am

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