Are advocates of single-payer lying, perhaps even to themselves?

Why single-payer is a phony, misleading term

The term “single-payer” is applied to many things, especially healthcare. But it’s never the case that there’s a single payer for schemes that adopt this term.

The usual conditions for proposing a single-payer are…

  1. Assume everyone has a positive right to some service. It’s “positive” in that it requires some person or group to provide the service.
  2. Ensure these service providers are paid. The only other alternative is chattel slavery.

But who will pay the service providers and how will that payment be funded?

Single-payer advocates assign the task to the government. But what is a government if not a collection of people? There’s nothing “single” about a collection of people. 

Millions will pay taxes. That’s not a single payer.

Thousands will be involved in the collection and distribution of the funds. That’s not a single payer.

The purse strings will be controlled by a few-hundred “representatives.” Once again, no single payer.

The State is not Daddy Warbucks. No one in this process is managing their own money. They are managing the money of others — and others is a word that means more than one. And that’s important because we know, axiomatically, that people are much more careful with their own assets than they are with resources that belong to others. There’s nothing “singular” about this process.

There’s a remaining irony…

Single-payer schemes tend to have a “shortages” problem — that is, there’s not enough of the service to go around (for reasons explained in the Mental Lever, What’s the true meaning of ‘Single-payer’?). But this can mean that the very people who built and ran the single-payer scheme may, someday, find themselves waiting or dying because they’re not allowed to be a “single payer” for their own service!

Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

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Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

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Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

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Show Comments 3


  1. Yes, “Single Payer” is a linguistic deception. Taxes are taken by distraint. This is theft, covered up by decades of propaganda from the massive “federal” system and corrupt courts. How can a system that “works” come from this?

  2. Exactly right. Let the consumer choose from competing providers, as is done with most services. We have no ‘right’ to health care, except to take care of ourselves. Our rights are to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  3. Canada’s provincial single-payer systems are particularly egregious examples of this ethical dilemma, because they gouge money out of people who seek to share their money with others.

    If I think some particular Canadian’s needs aren’t being met, I can bring that Canadian to the US and provide her with money to pay for treatment here. But if I send the money to Canada, politicians will insist on limiting how much care she is allowed to receive. For example, if I offer to pay for an MRI scan, and there’s a 6-week wait to get to the sole MRI machine the politicians were willing to pay for, she has to either wait the 6 weeks, or travel to the US to make use of my gift. The politicians will accept the gift, but insist on controlling where it is spent, and for what.

    Obamacare suffered this problem as well. It imposed a tax on healthcare plans that were “too good”, supposedly to provide a subsidy to healthcare plans that weren’t as good. The net effect was that insurance company profits rose (insurers have lobbyists who can tweak Government policies to make this happen) and the quality of care got worse. That was what happened when Obama and Congress tried to reduce the number of allowed healthcare payers, from everybody, to just a handful of insurance companies. The Canadian problem arose by shrinking the number of allowed payers further, to one per province.

    Statists terrorize us with the fear of what might happen if we lost all our money and were destitute, and needed health care from somebody.

    But what happens when somebody wants to provide that health care, and the State gouges money out of the giver for being “too generous”?

    The reality is that Statists have always been better at gouging money than at giving help. It’s in their nature to bully people because they are bullies. Ethiopia, during the 1980’s famine, impounded a freighter full of donated grain, and insisted that the church group which donated the free grain to feed the starving, pay the State a sum of money, because that State wanted money for itself instead of food for it’s citizens. Ethiopia literally held it’s own starving people hostage to gouge money out of people for feeling generous. That’s the ugly reality of how the State thinks.

    [Currently am reading Norman Ohler’s interesting book, “Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich”. Nazi Germany’s single-payer health system encouraged Germans to become addicted to methamphetamine, because the drug made young people happy and industrious and made old and sick people die faster. This reduced the cost of socialism, because more taxes were collected from the healthy and fewer benefits were provided to the sick…they died of heart disease and stroke caused by the methamphetamine before they got old enough to need any nursing care in old age. Intriguing story.]

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