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September 20, 2005

Social Power vs. Government Failure: First, do harm

Physicians operate under the principle that their first obligation in treating a patient is “to do no harm.” Big government seems to operate by an entirely different standard.

Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter traveled from Pennsylvania to Louisiana to help the victims of the failed federal levees there. He was in the midst of applying chest compression to a dying woman when FEMA officials stopped him. He begged them to let him continue, but they refused. Why? Because he wasn’t an official FEMA physician.

You can read the sordid details here

We are at pains to stress this point again and again. Government is force. It is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is not compassion. It is force. And as the proverb goes, “When the only thing you have is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail.” This is why, for government, every situation boils down to a question of control. It was more important to control the doctor’s actions, to force him to stop doing what he was doing, than it was to save that woman’s life. Force is the government’s hammer. And we are the nails.

Thank you to our friend Alice Lillie for pointing us to this sad story.

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