As the writer Ayn Rand noted:
“Rationing” has a specific meaning of its own. It means: to distribute in a certain particular manner — by the decision of an absolute authority, with the recipients having no choice whatever about what they receive; it also means that all the recipients involved have an equal claim to that which is being rationed, and are entitled to an equal share.
Examples include sugar rationing during World War II and gasoline rationing during the 1973 oil crisis, when the government dictated the terms and conditions of sugar or gasoline sales.
But in a free society, the government should not be regulating such sales at all...
Hence, if Bill makes more money than Joe and can purchase a $500 MRI scan that Joe can’t, then Bill deserves it. That’s not rationing, that’s justice — just as it’s not rationing if Bill can afford a house while Joe must live in an apartment, or if Bill can afford steak whereas Joe eats hamburgers.
In contrast, government programs that attempt to guarantee “universal health care” are unjust. There is no automatic “right” to goods or services that must be produced by another — that would be state-sanctioned theft or slavery.
Individuals are entitled to health care that they purchase themselves, is owed to them by contract (e.g., insurance), or is given to them as voluntary charity.
Whenever government attempts to guarantee an alleged “right” to health care, it must also control it. Bureaucrats and politicians must ultimately decide who gets what health care and when, not doctors and patients — if only to control costs. This is true rationing, and it necessarily violates the actual rights of the practitioners forced to provide care on the government’s terms (rather than their own) and the taxpayers forced to pay for it.
The free market is therefore the antithesis of rationing. It respects individual rights, whereas rationing unjustly violates individual rights — a crucial moral distinction.
Socialism degrades human rights. Free markets respect them.