A little while back, Libby Spencer at The Detroit News had written in her blog that Obama and Democratic health care reformers are not supporting socialized medicine with Sen. Kennedy’s bill or Obama’s public option. Ms. Spencer, along with Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, believes, "Socialized medicine is a system in which the government owns the means of providing medicine."

Those who believe that this view effectively dismisses any allegations of support for socialized medicine and all its negative connotations have obviously not read analyses by the likes of the Cato Institute's Michael Cannon, who argued last October that Obama does, indeed, support socialized medicine.

A reasonable definition of socialized medicine is possible. Socialized medicine exists to the extent that government controls medical resources and socializes the costs. Notice that under this definition, it is irrelevant whether we describe medical resources (e.g., hospitals, employees) as “public” or “private.” What matters-what determines real as opposed to nominal ownership-is who controls the resources. By that definition, America’s health sector is already more than half socialized, and Obama's health care plan would socialize medicine even further.

If advocates of socializing America’s medical system further want to debate whether their plan is the right one or whether further government involvement in health care is a good thing, that's fine. If it's a good idea, though, they shouldn't be worried about trying to stifle legitimate debate over the merits of their plan.

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