Today, the Senate passed yet another hurdle over health care reform, taking yet again the 60 votes needed for this go around. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement following the vote that it was “long past time we declare health care a right and not a privilege.”
It is fundamentally wrong to declare health care as a right. To say that health care is a right is to say that it is a right for everyone to have the greatest and latest flat panel television. Health care is not a right. It is more to say that it is a luxury, just like that new-fangled flat panel. Health care is a want, not a need.
This is a definite attack on the very Liberty that our Founding Fathers so declared years ago.
Since more than four-fifths of Americans already have medical insurance, and even those without “great wealth” have been known to enjoy “good health,” Reid was laying it on a little thick. But his premise, which is shared by President Obama, explains the moral urgency felt by supporters of the health care overhaul that is making its way through Congress. It also reveals a radical assault on the traditional American understanding of rights.
The Framers believed the Constitution recognized pre-existing rights, protecting them from violation by the government. The common law likewise developed as a way of protecting people from wrongful interference by their neighbors. If people have rights simply by virtue of being human, those rights can be violated (by theft or murder, for example) even in the absence of government.
By contrast, notwithstanding Reid’s claim that government-subsidized health care is a fundamental human right, it does not make much sense to say that it exists in a country too poor to afford such subsidies or at a time before modern medicine, let alone in the state of nature. Did Paleolithic hunter-gatherers have a right to the “affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care” that the Congressional Progressive Caucus says is a right of “every person”? If so, who was violating that right?
While liberty rights such as freedom of speech or freedom of contract require others to refrain from acting in certain ways, “welfare rights” such as the purported entitlement to health care (or to food, clothing, or shelter) require others to perform certain actions. They represent a legally enforceable claim on other people’s resources. Taxpayers must cover the cost of subsidies; insurers and medical professionals must provide their services on terms dictated by the government.
A right to health care thus requires the government to infringe on people’s liberty rights by commandeering their talents, labor, and earnings. And since new subsidies will only exacerbate the disconnect between payment and consumption that drives health care inflation, such interference is bound to increase as the government struggles to control ever-escalating spending. Rising costs will also encourage the government to repeatedly redefine the right to health care, deciding exactly which treatments it includes.
Welfare rights? That’s right. Welfare rights. The “rights” that the Obama administration wants to share with everyone. The “rights” that make a majority of the people dependant upon the government.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why did they write into the bill that they are not subject to the mandates of the bill?
- Why did they write into the bill that it cannot be repealed by future sessions?
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