Sunday, September 13, 2009

Right? Or just plain wrong?

I keep hearing it... "Every American has a right to quality health care."

Oh, really?

What does that mean? What is "a right"? The Declaration of Independence speaks of certain unalienable rights and mentions life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights specifies that the enumeration of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. (My emphasis)

Ayn Rand said you have the right to do anything not specifically prohibited by law (and that the government has no right to do anything unless specifically permitted by law). In that regard, the Bill of Rights also says Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The one I like, also from Ayn Rand, is that you have the right to do anything that does not infringe upon the rights of others.

Being alive, being free and pursuing my particular concept of happiness does not infringe upon any other person's right to do the same. Nor does my choice to worship or not worship, to freely speak my mind, or to gather with others to petition the government. But, what about health care?

Health care requires highly trained professionals. Persons with training that takes much time, labor and treasure. Health care requires the use of equipment that required the time, labor and treasure of numerous people to develop it, manufacture it, bring it to market and to operate and maintain it. Health care requires facilities, hospitals and clinics, that entire communities have paid taxes to build and operate - sacrificing, perhaps, other worthy community projects. And, health care requires free labor... many persons generously giving of their time and talent to empty bed pans, clean toilets, scrub floors and do all the other hard jobs volunteers do.

Humans are largely a compassionate species. My entire life I have been taught the need to care for widows and children... the helpless. There is probably not a medical professional in existence who does not care for some persons with full knowledge that they will never be repaid. All very commendable, so long as they do so from the goodness of their hearts. But, when someone has the "right" to those services, it ceases to be an act of compassion and becomes an act of forced labor.

Every American should have access to health care on a fair and equitable basis. But if I want others to provide health care to me, I must be willing to provide them with something they want in exchange.

To say I have a "right" to that care - without regard to the rights of those who may provide it, is no different from any other form of slavery, where one person is forced to labor for another person's benefit without just compensation.

And that truth cannot be buried under heaps of bureaucracy and red tape. You cannot take pennies in sales tax from the working widow and use it in payment of health care for someone who chooses not to work... or, to work and spend their earned pennies on frivolous luxuries.

No one has the "right" to the services of others. Health care is no exception.

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