Tuesday, April 9, 2013 | One comment

Occupy Volunteerism: A Model for Free, Charity Health Care

By Jeremy Lyman

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In recent weeks a number of tragedies have befallen people who I know.  I have been witness to the incredible goodness that exists in people as friends, neighbors, and others have stepped up to support and help those who needed it.

In one case, a man who lives up the street from me was diagnosed with cancer.  He has no medical insurance and likely little means to pay for the medical care that he will probably seek.  He has 13 adopted children, most of them still at home.  There is the real possibility that they will be left without a father.  As soon as the situation was known to the community in which we live, an effort was organized to help raise funds for the family.  Prayers were said.  Donations have been collected.  A dinner has been organized, offering dinners to be sold to the public.  All of the proceeds will be donated to the family.  Businesses have donated all of the food and supplies for the dinner.

One good man who no longer lives in the community saw through social media that money was being raised for the family.  He doesn’t know the family.  He didn’t know why money was being raised.  But he saw that someone was in need and he donated a painting that he had just completed, to be auctioned off as part of the fundraising effort.  I don’t know how much will ultimately be raised for the family, but I believe that those who are donating and helping out are experiencing the joy that comes from giving of one’s self and asking nothing in return, and the family has already expressed gratitude to all who have rallied to support them.

Another couple who moved away from our community about a year ago just experienced the terrible tragedy of their 18 month old son drowning in a bathtub in their home.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for them to deal with the loss.  This tragic event occurred less than two weeks after the father had been laid off from his job. As with the other case, immediately upon hearing the news, individuals within our community organized an effort to support the family. Meals were delivered. Funds were donated and an auction was organized to raise additional funds to donate to the family.  I attended the funeral and the grieving mother and father expressed gratitude at the incredible outpouring of love and support that they had been given. They had felt the love of those around them and felt the prayers that had been offered on their behalf.

Life is often difficult.  Everyone experiences challenges and trials.  Life is certainly not fair. Christians from many denominations are fond of the image of Jesus Christ saying, “I never said it would be easy. I just said it would be worth it.”  And life is not easy. Every individual will experience failure, heartache, and loss.

Part of living a Christ-like life is being aware of the trials of others and giving of one’s own time, talents, energy, and means to help those in need.  Most Christians (and most people) believe that we each have the moral responsibility to help those around us.  They believe that doing so not only helps the needy individual, but is also personally rewarding.

I recently read an article about an all-volunteer mobile clinic in Oregon that offers free healthcare to anyone.  “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how much insurance you have, what your background is, if you need help -you get help. That’s it,” said one of the founders, Sue Sieralupe.  The clinic is run by three physicians, about ten nurses, and a couple dozen other volunteers. Their medical services are 100 percent free. When a patient is in need of services that the free clinic can’t provide, clinic volunteers reach out to other organizations and help their patients find free or discounted services elsewhere.

The actions of these volunteers, like others we have similarly spotlighted, is a testament to the inherent virtue of mankind.  These people, whether Christian or not, are following the example of Christ and giving freely of themselves. Most of them maintain full-time jobs apart from their service in this organization. They have families and church or community obligations and everything else that occupies most people’s time, but they have chosen to sacrifice their spare time to make themselves available for this cause.  Before government became involved with healthcare, with such programs as Medicare and Medicaid, these kinds of efforts were much more common. Hospitals were built and supported by churches and religions. Individuals voluntarily donated time and money to help provide healthcare for those who could not afford to pay for it.

Over the years, government has violated its limited charter and interjected itself more and more in the lives of Americans.  The federal government has profoundly exceeded the few and enumerated powers authorized by the Constitution. Aided by the Supreme Court, it has crossed all of the lines drawn in the sand by America’s founding generation, tip-toeing gingerly at first, and now stomping out the lines and threatening anyone and everyone that might try to challenge this intrusion.

The incredible irony of the free clinic discussed above is that their ultimate goal is to promote social medicine in the United States. “What we are trying to do,” said Sieralupe, “is show Oregonians what it looks like to have single-payer.”  She wears a T-shirt donning the motto, “Healthcare is a human right.”  The mobile clinic dons the name of “Occupy Medical,” a spinoff from a temporary first aid tent that was erected during the Occupy Eugene movement in 2011.

While some that promote the cradle-to-grave nanny state may be well intentioned, the ultimate effects of a socialistic healthcare system administered by the state will prove to be detrimental. When government takes by force from individuals that which they have produced and uses those resources to provide “free” goods and services to its citizens, it crowds out the private market.  Sieralupe hopes her efforts will lead to free clinics all over the country.  That would be a laudable goal and one which we would support whole-heartedly provided the established model remains consistent, which requires operating on voluntary exchange only.

If Sierlaupe and her cohorts would focus their energy on encouraging individuals to voluntarily give of their own resources to provide free healthcare services, she would in fact represent the free market and the natural tendency of men to help those around them, and she would represent a solution to what some view as a growing concern for those that cannot afford to pay for their own healthcare. This model would drive down costs in the medical industry in general and would drive down the cost of healthcare for those that currently struggle to pay for it.

Unfortunately, that’s not her goal. Her final statement in the article referenced above reads, “My hope is that eventually there will be no use for us.”  What a travesty.  That eventually there will be no need for individuals to voluntarily provide acts of charity?  The suggestion is based on a socialistic utopia that defies reality and denies the poverty, misery, suffering and death that history has witnessed time and again throughout the world as socialism has taken root.

We previously discussed each individual’s inherent responsibility to provide for themselves and for their own families. No individual or group of individuals, whether under the guise of government or not, can justly take from individuals that which they have produced by their own means, even if the intended use of the resources is seemingly good.

We applaud the charitable efforts of the “Occupy Medical” clinic and encourage them to grow the model that they have proven to be effective rather than promote a system of socialism that will further increase costs, decrease quality, and burden the taxpayers at large.

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About the Author

Jeremy Lyman is Director of the Center for Private Property. For the past nine years he has held a real estate license in the State of Utah and has served on the board of directors for the Salt Lake Board of Realtors®, the Utah Association of Realtors®, and the National Association of Realtors®. He is currently the CEO for Blue Mountain Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital located in Blanding, Utah.


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