All the information that has come to light regarding the deliberations, inappropriate and shocking revelations, of the secret Health Care Task Force of President Bill and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton thanks to the lawsuit, AAPS v. Clinton; and the subsequent wheeling and dealing behind closed doors of liberal democratic congressional leaders attempting to sugar-coat the Clintonian health care proposals (socialized medicine), remind me of the true story and the consequent sequence of historic events that led to the present situation concerning monetary and economic policies—e.g., an unstable weak currency, slow but chronic inflation, budget deficits, and ballooning national debt (now approaching $5 trillion)—and to the inception of an all-powerful monetary entity, the Federal Reserve System, which has been appropriately christened the “Creature from Jekyll Island” by G.E. Griffin in his magnificent exposé of the aforesaid name.(1)
Here is the shocking story: In the fall of 1910, a very secretive meeting was held on Jekyll Island, Georgia. The meeting was attended by a small cabal of banking elites who—many years later, after the fact—explained they had drafted a master plan to end the monopolistic practices of the New York bankers who controlled capital. Ostensibly, these individuals also wanted to stabilize the currency. What came out of the secret deliberations of these “reforming” banking elites (who represented one quarter of the wealth of the United States) was the blueprint for the Federal Reserve System which, unlike its name implied, proved to be neither federal, nor a reserve, nor a system.
It was, however, a private corporation and a quasi-government, hybrid entity with no inherent reserves of its own. And it was not even a system to decentralize power as its name suggested, but a veritable cartel—an agreement between competitors who sought to eliminate their competition and to implement a banking monopoly with control over the money supply, interest rates, and ultimately, the entire U.S. economy. Thus, this was not only a secret gentleman’s agreement by a handful of the well-connected and powerful people, but a veritable cabal operating against the public interest, and likely illegal, as the Sherman-Antitrust Act had been in effect since 1890.
The Federal Reserve Act, with all its ambiguous language, was hurriedly passed by Congress on December 22, 1913, so that, once secured in its passage, it could be worked and reworked to suit the pleasure of its creators: the Eastern banking establishment. Yet, during the time of debate over passage of this bill, this same establishment and many congressional leaders campaigned publicly against the Act to deceive the public as to its beneficiaries, not to mention the true intentions of this particular piece of legislation. You see, in a stroke of supreme duplicity, this same establishment had privately planned and engineered the provenance, declaration, and implementation of the Federal Reserve, with its ultimate goal not the decentralization of power of the big New York bankers, but rather the consolidation of their power in collusion and with the blessings of government. Thus, many authorities now believe that the true intention of this system was not necessarily to stabilize the currency and the banking system as proclaimed, but to create a government-approved cartel with a veritable monopoly over the money supply.(1)
Today, the Federal Reserve controls the printing of irredeemable (not backed by gold or silver) paper currency and therefore is capable of creating inflation at will. Yes, the creation of this fiat money is responsible for the steady decrease in the value of the currency and the persistent inflation to which we have become accustomed.(2) Inflation occurs, not as it is commonly believed (e.g., the result of higher prices for goods and services), but because there is more irredeemable paper money in circulation chasing relatively fewer goods and services. Inflation is, in effect, a hidden tax that affects all of us almost imperceptibly. The policies of the Federal Reserve not only cause the inflation that erodes the value of the currency (and the paycheck of hard-working Americans), but are also responsible for the stagflations (inflation accompanied by stagnant economic activity and high unemployment) and recessions that have periodically affected this country. It is also worth remembering, the Federal Reserve System presided over the decade-long, Great Depression that followed the Stock Market Crash of 1929, a depression this entity itself was supposed to forestall.
These historic events taken in the context of contemporary revelations gave me pause to wonder about the oxymoronic entity that emerged from Jackson Hole, Wyoming—managed competition. This is the much-touted health care option ostensibly created to control spiraling health care costs, but which in reality is leading day by day to the formation of an unholy partnership between the giant insurers and health care mega-corporations, and big government—and the establishment of our own brand of socialized medicine, American style.
The centerpiece of managed competition is managed care, and whether this scheme utilizes any of the various appellations (i.e., purchasing cooperatives, regional alliances, or HMOs, PPOs, etc.), it amounts to nothing less than a government-approved cartel that favor big private entities poised to gain financial benefits under monopolistic government protection at the expense of small businesses, independent insurers, Mom and Pop local pharmacies, small entrepreneurs including physicians, and the public at large, particularly unwary patients.
It is imperative we recognize the fact that socialism today, in its preferred incarnation, democratic socialism, given the searing lesson of the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Empire, at least not openly seek government ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods and services, but merely, government control, regulation and taxation. Simply stated, with the alleged death of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, even the most hardened collectivist has come to realize that central planning with control and regulation (Socialism) are far more effective (and efficient) than outright government ownership (Communism) of various sectors of the economy. And particularly in the case of health care, until the political winds change direction, it would be easier to deal with several behemothic mega-corporations than with 600,000 independent-minded physicians, countless nurses and pharmacists, and a myriad of small indemnity insurers and entrepreneurs in the medical marketplace.
It is not surprising that the Health Care Task Force operated behind closed doors during the deliberations and drafting of the Health Security Act of 1993. This pattern of willful machinations and secrecy are also reminiscent of the manipulations that gave rise to the “Creature from Jekyll Island.”
As we teeter at the brink of the abyss of socialized medicine, we should question the intentions and motives of the big insurers and the mega-corporations which pretended to oppose the Clinton plan during the heat of the great health care debate (1992-1994), but were (and are still) pushing for “Clinton-Lite” managed-competition reforms (at the national and particularly at the state level), even as I write these words—but are only just prevaricating. In reality, they are just asking for a little less of the same thing. This managed competition scheme has at its core plans for extensive networks of managed care and HMOs written not only by government bureaucrats, but as we now know, by individuals employed by private entities such as big foundations and allied health care networks that had (and have) a vested financial interest in seeing that managed care (preferably HMOs) is implemented as the centerpiece of the U.S. health care delivery system for the 1990s—and the 21st Century.
The lawsuit filed in 1993 by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS v. Clinton), disclosed that many special interests, who actively participated in the deliberations of the Health Care Task Force, wanted to profit by changing the American health care system, from fee-for-service to a pre-paid, managed competition option, more to their own liking and for their own financial benefit. This may well explain why private physicians were intentionally left out of the health care debate.
Likewise, the Federal Reserve Act was passed hurriedly in 1913 and then worked upon and reworked, until it suited the pleasure of the Eastern banking establishment that publicly had campaigned in opposition, while behind the scenes had engineered its creation and legislation. Once the Act was passed, the rest, as the saying goes, is history. One must stop here to ponder what former Democratic Senate Majority leader, George Mitchell of Maine, had in mind when, just before the November of 1994 epochal Congressional elections, he blurted, “Let us pass anything and we’ll fix it in conference.”
Things are not always what they seem, and at this critical juncture in the health care debate, physicians and their patients, and concerned citizens must remain alert, informed, and vigilant if they are, like St. George, to slay the multi-headed dragon of socialized medicine.
A New Dark Age
In the years A.D. 244-249, Roman Emperor Philip, “the Arab,” planned a spectacular series of gladiatorial games and circuses galore to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the founding of the Eternal City of Rome. He had proclaimed a “New Age.” But this new age was not the new world order he envisioned, for the sun had begun to set on the declining Empire.
In fact, the Empire was being assailed by hordes of barbarians from outside her gates and plagued by domestic insurrections and civil wars from within. Rome suffered from decadence, anguish, and unremitting despair. The moral foundations on which the Roman Republic was founded had been greatly eroded. And as the scholar Michael Grant had proclaimed, it was a veritable “Age of Crisis.” Emperors were murdered with impunity by their own rebellious troops or by treacherous imperial bodyguards. The Praetorian Guard seemed to possess the power to make or break emperors at will. For the first time in history, Roman emperors were killed or captured on the field of battle by the foreign invaders. The unthinkable was actually happening: Rome, the former mistress of the Mediterranean, was on the verge of total collapse.
Once again, as history has so often shown, in an instance of impending catastrophe, a great opportunity arouse in the year A.D. 284, when a strong man, the captain of the Imperial guard, Diocletian, rose to the occasion and was appointed Emperor. A powerful personality, Emperor Diocletian did not wait for prognosticated historic cycles, but proceeded to make history himself. And while his military genius is historically evident and indisputable, his political and economic policies were utter failures.(3)
Diocletian abolished the last vestiges of republican rule and established an autocratic system run by a gigantic bureaucracy to administer his new and visionary welfare state. And to pay for it, the currency was devaluated and coins were minted in great numbers. Inflation, predictably, went unchecked and stringent wage and price controls were instituted in a futile attempt to check the same inflation and runaway prices the government itself had created. To get their “fair share” of government subsidies, farmers left their land and hurried to the crowded cities. Fields went unplowed. Common goods became scarce and had to be rationed. Prices soared. Black markets flourished. Riots broke out. Insurrections were ruthlessly crushed. A great opportunity had been lost when, after having secured the imperial borders and reestablished law and order, Diocletian had turned to totalitarianism rather than to the venerated republican institutions that had served Rome so well for so many centuries.
Throughout history, price controls during periods of high demand for goods and services have resulted in the scarcity of those same commodities and services. Draconian measures are then taken that result in arbitrary rationing, thriving black markets, and increased crime. Eventually, when price controls out of sheer necessity are lifted, prices rebound and soar out of the reach of the ordinary citizen. In the end, it’s the very people a totalitarian government claims to protect that suffer the most.
So, it is not surprising that with the economic situation worsening, Diocletian passed draconian decrees making occupations, trades, and professions hereditary. A man was bound to his trade or occupation for life and so were his children. Failure to abide by the decrees was punishable by death.
At the same time, the largest and most ferocious persecution in history was carried out against Christians, in an attempt to eradicate Christianity, once and for all. Besides, distractions and convenient scapegoats were needed for the benefit of the new social and economic order.
With the vestiges of the constitutional republic explicitly abolished, the venerated, ancient Roman ideals—incarnated in the rule of law, the natural rights of man, social mobility, private property, and wealth creation—had all but been forgotten. A new despotism and totalitarianism replaced all of these noble Roman traditions. Swarms of officers and government agents, dependent on Diocletian’s will and obstructing the administration of justice according to the precepts of the ancient Republic, travelled the countryside harassing the citizenry and enforcing authoritarian imperial decrees. The land was rife with magistrates, provincial officials, informers (and sundry whistle-blowers) who roamed the realm, spying on each other and sapping the substance of the people. Yet, even these ancient apparatchiks were themselves closely watched, for precautions were necessary to maintain the new order. Moreover, these “shared sacrifices” were necessary for the good of the state.
And, despite the harsh imperial decrees and penalties, stark inefficiencies, rampant fraud and abuse and bureaucratic corruption continued to plague the Empire, along with continued government infringements into every aspect of the lives of the people.
Physicians, like everybody else, became part of a trade, and were no longer bound to their revered Graeco-Roman medical ethics, but to the new “ethics” decreed by the state. For physicians, mere survival had become the order of the day. They no longer answered a calling. They did not serve their individual patients; they served the state or its surrogates. They practiced a trade highly regulated by the state bureaucracy and were bound to obey their new masters.
Medicine declined steadily, and centuries later, when the West was in the throes of the Dark Ages, the best medicine available, Byzantine medicine, as practiced in the enclave of Constantinople and in the Eastern Roman Empire, regressed to a lamentable and primitive state. Ethical medicine, as had been practiced centuries earlier under the great Graeco-Roman physicians: Hippocrates, Galen, Celsus, and Scribonius Largus—was only a semblance of its former self.
At the Brink
All of the ingredients for the destruction of a civilization had, if fact, been added to the fatal brew. And less than two centuries later, the Eternal City of Rome (although by now Christianized) was sacked by Alaric and the Visigoths in A.D. 410, Gaiseric and the Vandals in A.D. 455, and finally completely overrun by sundry Germanic tribes led by King Odoacer in A.D. 476. In the West, the agonizing and regressive Dark Ages followed, while in the East, the Eastern Roman Empire centered in Constantinople held the barbarians at bay (by hook or by crook), enduring for another millennium.
Graeco-Roman medicine sank to its nadir. And in the 6th Century, still in the midst of the Dark Ages, the Great Plague assailed the known world mercilessly, ravaging the land and taking with it 100 million hapless victims. Miraculously, the remnants of Graeco-Roman medicine survived cloistered in the monasteries of the West in the form of monastic medicine, but the practice of private medicine would have to flourish elsewhere, and fortunately, resurgent it was, centuries later, in the Islamic countries.
Out of the ashes, medical schools and universities arose during the Medieval period. Then, during the Renaissance, medical care—under Paré, Paracelsus, and Vesalius—reached a new peak; and it flourished to full fruition in the scientific era of medicine, propelled by the genius of individual innovation and achievement, and aided by private philanthropy and the individual-based, free-enterprise system, during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It would reach a Golden Age in the post-World War II period.
The lessons of history sagaciously reveal wherever the government has sought to control medical care, medical practice and physicians (whether directly or indirectly), the results have been as perverse as they have been disastrous. In our own century, in the Soviet Union, in Nazi Germany, and in fascist Italy, medicine regressed and descended to unprecedented barbarism under the aegis of, or in partnership with, the state.
There is a renewed threat of a modern dark age looming on the medical horizon. It is the impending dark age of corporate socialized medicine, and if this form of industrial policy for health care is ever fully implemented in America, physicians and their patients can rest assured that they will be greatly affected. Physicians will find that they will be bound to obey new masters—the impersonal, faceless bureaucrats of the managed care mega-corporations working under monopolistic government protection and whose motives are power and control, on the one hand; and corporate profits, on the other. For their part, patients will find that their new physicians dare not advise them what is best for them, but will do as they are told by the power-wielding bureaucrats of the third-party networks. Gone will be the independent-minded physicians of yore who took medicine to its pinnacle, free of government intrusion and coercion, who were able to treat their patients as individuals and place their patients’ interest above their own, in the spirit of true altruism, philanthropy, and humanitarianism, and within the sanctity of the patient-doctor relationship.
The direction in which we are headed today in medicine is plain and simple—corporate socialized medicine—a concept centered around managed care/managed competition, gatekeepers, cost controls, and rationing, obfuscated by the profit motive and sanctioned by government authority. It employs bureaucrats who have a vested interest in preserving their positions of power and control and who dictate patient care from afar. The concept purports to rely on the false “ethics of caring,” but in reality, is more akin to Professor Truffer’s veterinary ethics, an ethic that forces physicians to act in the interest of the corporate entity as third-party payer, rather than in the interest of their patients (4); it mandates coercive compassion, not true charity or philanthropy; it responds only to pressure by politically powerful special interests, not individual patient needs; and it insists on statism and collectivism, rather than individual self-interest and voluntary incentives.
For vigilant and informed citizens, there is no longer room on the sidelines. If we are not successful in our efforts, our fate will be the catastrophic stumble and inevitable plunge down the bottomless pit of corporatism and socialized medicine. This plunge would signify the commencement of a New Dark Age of medical care regression, health care rationing, and perhaps, in the not-too- distant future, a brave new world of government- or corporate-imposed, active euthanasia for the infirmed and elderly, the most vulnerable in our society—rationing by death—the ultimate and most efficient form of cost control.
You can be sure the responsibility for this debacle will be shouldered by the physicians, the healers, and not the politicians and bureaucrats; while the brunt of the cataclysm will be borne out by all of us consumers of medical care and ultimate patients. From the foregoing, it is obvious that this titanic conflict represents a political and moral struggle ordinary citizens of this great republic cannot afford to lose. Let us remember Dante Alighieri’s admonition: “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis profess their neutrality.”
1. Griffin GE. The Creature from Jekyll Island. American Opinion Publishing, Inc., Appleton, Wisconsin, 1994.
2. Kudlow L. Fed up—the new gold standard. National Review 1994; 46(19): 51-54.
3. Faria MA Jr. Vandals at the Gates of Medicine: Historic Perspectives on the Battle Over Health Care Reform. Hacienda Publishing, Inc., Macon, Georgia, 1995, p. 133-137.
4. Ibid., p. 240-242.
Written by Dr. Miguel Faria
This article, which originally appeared in the December 1994 issue of the Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia as Dr. Faria’s “Editor’s Corner,” was subsequently updated and re-published as Chapter 3 in Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997). It has been posted here and is now accessible on this website for the benefit of our readers.
Copyright ©1992-2021Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD