27 December 2008

Health Care is Not a Right

I am amused by those who seem to believe that, simply by existing, they have a right to another’s property or skill. Ultimately, I find it a result of childish, self-centered behavior, not the result of rational thought.

That being said, why, specifically, is health care not a right? I mean, if I get sick and die, that obviously impacts me negatively, correct?

The answer lies in what constitutes a “right.” The traditional rights in the United States are life, liberty, and property (the third is sometimes called “pursuit of happiness”). These rights are considered Natural Rights, in that they exist outside of any government or civilization. Inalienable Rights, you might say. I am born; therefore I have a right to freedom of thought and action. I don’t have the right to coerce another; our societies have laws against murder and theft to reflect that principle.

If one man (we’ll call him Al) exists in the world away from anyone else, what are his rights? Thought, speech (no one is around to stop him from speaking his mind or worshipping as he chooses). Defense (his right to protect his life and property from marauding bands of wolves). Property (what’s his is his, since there is no one else to take it from him).

What are the limitations on his rights? Well, since there’s no one else around, Al can’t take another’s life, liberty, or property. Al can’t stop another from speaking his mind, or from defending himself. Seems pretty simple, right?

Into this world, enter Bob. Bob enters the world with the same rights as Al. Bob happens to be a doctor. Al is a hunter.

One day, Al is injured by a rabid squirrel, and goes to Bob for help. Bob has the choice of helping or not. If Bob says “no, I don’t want to help you,” Al’s in trouble. What can Al do?
Beg. “Please, Bob, help me.” This would result in Charity on Bob’s part.
Force Bob. “If you don’t help me, I’ll burn your house down.”
Al and Bob come to a mutually beneficial arrangement. In exchange for the rabies cure, Al has to give Bob more meat.

Number 2 is immoral, according to the dictates of Natural Law.

But, this is where the “right the health care” comes in. For, if there is such a right, how does Al get the care he needs without forcing Bob to provide it? Bob is no longer free to say “no.”

Since Al existed in a world without a doctor, he has no right to the product of Bob’s labor. The only way Al can get the product of Bob’s labor is to threaten to violate one of the three Natural Laws: Life (I’ll kill you if you don’t heal me), Liberty (I’ll imprison you if you don’t heal me), or Property (I will force you to heal me, or I will confiscate your house if you don’t heal me).

Now, you may ask “But shouldn’t Bob help Al? After all, Al will die without Bob’s help! It’s cruel to let Al die!” Bob will help Al because it is in Bob’s interest to do so. Al is a better hunter, and Bob can use that to his advantage. Similarly, the fact that Al knows Bob can cure his pain means that Al can hunt a little more to make sure any of his ills are cured. But neither can force the other to help him and still claim the moral high ground.

If Bob decides one day to stop helping Al, yes, that’s too bad. It doesn’t change the fact that Al has no right to the product of Bob’s labor. Similarly, Bob has no right to Al’s labor. Bob cannot go to Al and say “I exist, therefore hunt for me.” Both men are free to help one another or not. If one chooses to end the relationship, so be it.

When government passes laws to say “You will heal the sick or you will be punished,” government has violated Natural Law. When government passes laws that say “You may not provide health care unless you go through us” it has violated Natural Law. When citizens say “I demand that I be healed; you have no right to refuse me” they have violated Natural Law.

Doctors, nurses, medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies, all exist because there is a need that must be filled. The result of this need is that jobs are created, and people prosper. Somehow, Leftists believe that this need is really a right, that simply by breathing we are entitled to have health care. This health care always comes at the expense of someone else, whether from the doctors who must provide the care for free, or from those who make better life decisions and thus have more money than another.

Ultimately, if you don’t believe me, imagine I am a doctor, and you need my help to cure your pain. How are you, sitting at a computer 1000 miles away from me, going to get me to provide your care? And what difference is there between me and your local doctor?

Government, of course, uses tax money to pay doctors, because it is impolite to say “You will provide medical care or we will punish you.” But this is really saying that Charlie is forced to give up the product of his labor to pay Bob so that Al can have medical care. Charlie is forced, against his will, to labor for the benefit of Al. How is this not a violation of morality and Natural Law?

Yes, you can (and probably will) pass laws that force me to pay taxes so that Al gets his health care. But those laws are immoral to the core. If I refuse to pay, will you imprison me? Raid my house and steal my property? At what point does your “right” to health care trump my right to liberty? Or vice versa?

Those on the Left will state, in effect, “I am more important than Bob. I need health care more than Bob needs his liberty, or more than Charlie needs his property.” That is where the childish, self-centered nature of the Left comes in to play. Dave (the final character) says “I am more important than Al, so I should have what Al has. Al has his wounds treated by Bob; I should have my wounds treated by Bob. Al also has meat; I should have meat. It’s not fair that Al gets more meat than I, or that Bob is smarter than I. I demand the products of their labor!”

I will end this post by asking a simple question: If you will not ask a doctor for his service, why should you demand that someone else force the doctor to provide that service?

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