Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Right to Health Care

Not long ago Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi declared health care a right. By this she meant: Whether a person has the means to pay for medical services or not, he is nonetheless entitled to them. As appealing as that idea might seem, let's consider its logic. Let's say one of our neighbors (we'll name him "Tom") suffers from diabetes and he has no means to pay a doctor for treatment or a pharmacy for his insulin. Does Tom have a "right" to "Dr. Dick's" services and a prescription from "Harry's Pharmacy"? And, if those services are not provided without charge, should Tom be able to call for criminal sanctions against Dick and Harry for violating his right to health care?

But if Tom can force Dick and Harry to serve him without pay, then in what way does that arrangement differ from slavery? However, let's suppose (instead of Tom's being able to force Dick and Harry to provide services without pay) Congress were to use its power of taxation to take money from Peter and it gave that money to Tom so he could pay "Paul's Clinic" for his health care. Is taking Peter's money to pay Paul any different morally than Tom's forcing Dick and Harry to work without compensation?

Of course there would be one important tactical difference -- concealment. Given America's shameful history of slavery, we would be immediately (and rightly) outraged if one person directly and visibly forced another person to serve him without compensation. But using the tax system to stealthily accomplish the same end (transferring the earnings of one person to another) stirs no such outrage.

Genuine rights do not confer the power to steal from others. That means the exercise of my right (whether freedom of speech, or religion, or press, or the right to bear arms) does not impinge on the rights of others, nor impose on them an obligation to provide me with the means to exercise my right. For example, my right to own firearms cannot be understood to mean that other citizens must surrender their weapons or provide me a 45 auto. But (employing the logic of Ms Pelosi's definition of health-care rights) my right of free speech should require the government to force others to provide me with an auditorium, television studio or radio station. My right to travel freely should require the government to force others to provide me with a vehicle, gasoline, airfare and hotel accommodations.

By Nancy Pelosi's definition of so-called this "right to health care" (the guarantee that I will never be denied any good or service that is medically indicated, whether I can afford it or not), the government must diminish someone else's rights, namely their rights to their own earnings. Of course the reason such a "right to health care" necessitates theft from my fellow citizen is simply that the government has no resources of its own.

It would be very generous of President Obama to open his wallet to pay for my medical needs, but sadly Mr Obama is neither independently wealthy nor quite so altruistic. The only stash of money that President Obama has with which to pay for my "right to health care" belongs to someone else -- someone who actually earned that money. Yet apparently Congress (like most little children) still believes in Santa Claus, and sadly the Jolly Old Elf always turns out to be those same old grumps who have to eventually cough up the payment for all the goodies we so carelessly broke on Christmas afternoon. For government to give one person a dollar, it must first confiscate that dollar from some other person.

But there's more than a mere tactical difference between Ms Pelosi's so-called "right to health care" and the old-time institution of slavery. Ms Pelosi's "right to health care" has a great strategic advantage over Antebellum Slavery -- advancing the cause of slavery far beyond the confines of a darkly hued minority. This newly discovered "right to health care" modifies the very meaning of "rights", insidiously changing a "right" from something given by God to something rationed by government. It is the essence of tyranny for the government to define rights as something it alone gives. After all, didn't Adolf Hitler himself claim that Germans had the absolute right to "Freiheit und Brot" (freedom and bread) just before he proceeded to ration out both to the German people?


Jerry said...

47% of American households paid no income taxes last year, and many of them received "refunds" that vastly exceeded their withholding.

Guess who is going to pay for all of that "free" health care?

"Freedom and bread" didn't work any better than "bread and circuses".

We never learn.

leeann said...

Quite honestly, understanding even the small amount that I do, I comfort myself with the fact that I probably won't live long enough to see the complete downfall, if it happens. It's pathetic but it's true.

Jerry said...


Unfortunately, you are not the first to think this way:

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons, who shall be born to you, shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?” - 2 Kings 20:16-19 (ESV)

Hezekiah was wrong to defer trouble to his kids, and so are we.

Mrs. JP said...

Very will put.

joyce said...

the next one they are batting around is the "right to a vacation" and when the volcano messes with your vacation, who do you sue??