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No, Virginia, Health Care is Not a Right; Yes, Everybody Has Access to It

August 14, 2009

Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey brilliantly opines on the shape-shifting nature of the health care debate in America.  Morrissey takes to task the proponents of the “health care is a right” faction of ObamaCare advocates in a new AIP column, and I’ve commented at some length in the past on the “health care is a right” argument being promulgated by some of the more disingenuous ObamaCare enthusiasts in the blogosphere, but having come across some particularly shrewd left-wing agitprop today, such as the astronomically stupid David Livingstone’s new piece “The Usefulness of Idiots”, in which–in addition to being incredibly rude and insulting to anyone daring to oppose ObamaCare–Livingstone frames the health care debate in terms of “rights”.  He isn’t the only leftist scribbler to make such an attempt; he’s merely the dumbest and most insulting.  Others have argued such a thing, mostly using our right to life as cover for their intellectual dishonesty.

The attempts by the left to frame the debate in such terms is nothing more than an obfuscatory effort to stifle debate and depict opponents as cretinous tyrants.  It is fast becoming a preferred tactic of the left, employed to great effect in every policy argument from gay marriage to cap-and-trade.  To hear liberals recitation of the litany of “rights” they think men posses, one gets the feeling that they are less interested in the Declaration of Independence and Locke than they are with the DNC platform and Karl Marx.  I bring up Karl Marx because all of their impotent whining is based in the sort of class warfare demagoguery that social conflict theory creates.

The idea that health care is a right flies in the face of actual rights clearly delineated in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in our Constitution.  You’ve no doubt heard audio of President Obama complaining that the Constitution is a charter of “negative rights”; by definition, all rights are “negative” in the sense that when we enshrine a right in law, what we are clearly setting out to define is that thin line where our an individual’s natural freedom infringes on anothers and that point where a government–created by men to protect their rights–infringes on the rights of the individual.

Liberals are in love with the “right” to health care.  They are seemingly oblivious to the fact that our right to property cannot coexist with the coercion that inexorably comes with a right to health care.

Proponents of the “health care is a right” argument never stop to think of the logical string of consequences that ensue once the state enshrines such a right in law.  Governments, in order to protect the rights of men, are empowered to use force if necessary to provide that protection.  So what happens when meager monetary inducements don’t work?  What naturally must occur once medicine is no longer sufficiently profitably to attract the best and brightest–or anyone, for that matter, willing to practice?  In the event of such shortages in the military, the state is empowered to forcibly conscript men into service; do proponents of the “health care is a right” argument propose to do the same with doctors and nurses?

Once health care is deemed to be a right, there will be no aspect of life that will not conceivably invite the interference of the state.  Under the limitless banner of the “right” of health care, nearly anything can theoretically be deemed to be fair game for the encroachment of the state.  Food is necessary for life.  A healthy diet is essential to maintaining good health and a key component of preventive medicine–so why can’t a strictly regimented diet be justified as within the auspices of a health care czar?  Suddenly foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids will be deemed an essential right, and Twinkies banned in the name of health care.  Likewise, exercise is a key component of physical and emotional wellness; will Big Brother ensure that we all spend an hour a day on the treadmill?

It sounds like foolishness (we’re talking about liberalism, after all), but I’m quite certain that 230 years ago, our forefathers would never have imagined that women would have the “right” to slaughter their offspring in utero.

Americans have an actual right to profit from their labor, be it physical or intellectual.  They have a right to profit from the time, sweat, and capital they invest into their endeavors according to the free market.  The free market apportions goods, services, and compensation based upon voluntary transactions, which is the very essence of individual freedom.

We can and do have certain institutions in place to care for those genuinely incapable of caring for themselves.  The American landscape is dotted with free clinics, staffed with volunteer doctors and nurses who choose to provide their expertise and services without material compensation.  But America’s unmatched capacity for generosity and charity is of no consequence to liberals, who insist that our boundless largesse is still unfair because the state doesn’t dole out resources according to the delicate sensibilities of liberals.

Mark me well: unless conservatives successfully disabuse people of the notion that health care is a right, we will win only temporary victories over Statists who wish to infest our lives with the tentacular growths of an overweening government.  If we can’t successfully counter the Statist argument for the “right” of health care, we will keep fighting this battle over and over again every time liberals control the federal government.

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