Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Once More, With Feeling

Health care is not a right.

Do I need to say that again?  Health care is not a right.  Rights are Natural.  That is, they come from Nature (well, God, but this isn't a theological debate, so I'll stick with "Nature"), and they exist whether or not there is government, or even society.

Absent society, let alone government, I have the right to secure and protect my own life.  Absent society, I have the right to accumulate property.  Absent society, I have the right to do as I choose and pursue whatever endeavors I desire.  Those are rights.

Society arose, in part, to protect our rights.  In return, we sacrificed a small amount of that right to do as we choose (Liberty), and took on certain responsibilities.  I sacrificed my Liberty to shoot you at the slightest provocation, and took on the responsibility not to be a mooch.  Society and Government only work well when the vast majority of the population adheres to those limits on Liberty and upholds their responsibilities.

Then there are privileges.  Privileges are things that require a society, or even a government, or they have no meaning.  Privileges, in general, are "freedoms" in that they are things we can do with our right to Liberty, and they normally have no direct cost.  These are things like, in modern Republics and Democracies, voting.

Where rights have responsibilities, privileges have prerequisites.  It is a privilege to vote.  In the United States, I have to meet the prerequisites of being a citizen, aged 18 or older, with no felonies, and registered to vote.  It is a privilege to drive a car.  In Texas, I have to meet the prerequisites of having proof of ability to pay liability claims, be aged 16 or older (15 in certain cases), and obtain a driver's license.

Finally, there are products and services.  Products and services require a society to operate, but not necessarily a government.  If I cannot make or do something myself, that is a product or a service.  Products and services, beyond relying on a society to have any meaning, also submit to the laws of supply and demand.  If you can't provide it for yourself, then you must rely on someone else to provide it.  That means there is cost associated with it, and the more rare and/or valuable that product or service is, the more costly it will be, in general.

Now, into which of these categories does health care fall?  Does it sound like something that Nature provides you?  Well, perhaps in the form of dirt to "rub some dirt in it," but not really beyond that.  Does it sound like a privilege?  Not by our definition.  Health care is a combination of products (bandages, sutures, medicines, etc.) and services (administration of those products, consultation and diagnostics, health maintenance).

You cannot make it a right by wishing it so.  No matter what you do, health care will be a combination of products and services which are therefore subject to the laws of supply and demand.  One of the things demanded is human labor.  Doctors, Physician's Assistants, Nurses, and various technicians are all human beings who are selling their labor as health care workers to you, the consumer.

The Democrats are trying to make a big push (still? again?) to convince people that ObamaCare, which attempts to turn the product/service known as "health care" a right by forcing changes on the health insurance industry.  This ignores several problems, the most severe of which is the fact that no amount of human action can turn something into a "right."

But, they say, "It is a right.  Look at other 1st world countries."

Yes, with their ever ballooning deficits and forced austerity.  Not to mention waiting lists months or years long, ever shrinking pay for ever increasing work for doctors and so on.  But let's ignore that, for a moment, and consider something else.

In Europe, they claim to have made health care a "right."  But have they?  Do doctors and hospitals no longer get paid?  We have a word for forcing someone to work without paying them, and it isn't a very nice word.  If they do get paid, then what do you expect will happen if they stop getting paid, or suddenly decide that the pay is not commensurate with the stress and workload, and go into a different industry?  What will Europeans do then?  Can the legislatures of Europe grant everyone the knowledge and skill do provide their own health care?  Can the legislatures of Europe pass a law that enables someone to perform their own appendectomy or brain surgery?

Of course the answer is "no."  If there were a sudden shortage of doctors, many would do without health care, as they are already forced to do even in countries where health care is supposed to be a "right."

As an aside: Consider this: if the Government could mandate things to be "rights" does that not mean they could also legislate so that certain things are no longer "rights?"  Be careful what you wish for.


  1. This article espouses a commonly held ideology which fails to address several key points, or, misinterprets important information. I'll start with "natural rights," which to me rings bogus. "life, liberty and estate" for example, were the later modified words of John Locke, and not "natural," in that humans were born with them. In fact, w/out a religious element that word "natural" must (I assume) mean uninterrupted by governing bodies. So is the right to possess a firearm a natural right? What of the right to an abortion? Or, the right for a state to sentence its citizens to death. Suddenly we can use the word "natural" arbitrarily, when it's most convenient for us.
    Further, healthcare cannot, ethically, be viewed in a manner so simple as an exchange of goods and services. For many it represents a distinction between a few hundred dollars and financial ruin, or, life and death. Denying to right to live, ostensibly, is deeply un-American and ethically reprehensible.
    During 8 GWB years the healthcare system deteriorated into a full-blown crisis unlike any 1st world nation had ever seen. GOPers, during the 08 election demonized Canadians and Europeans (much like you) but failed to provide hard evidence that the system had "failed.". Moreover, GOP-ers failed to provide any concrete plan for solvency.
    This, though, is what the GOP has done the past 2 years -- demonize Obama and use the congressional majority to block ANYthing he tries to pass, all while criticizing "failed leadership.". Further, Mitt & co have only jabbed BHO's plan, never actually detailing their own. (Not to get too far off topic, but when MR released his "tax plan" it was called not mathematically possible by the tax policy center.)
    I hope, without offending, this argument shed light on how most Americans have felt, in one way or another, in regards to the lobbying, corporatized politics that have quelled progression for so many years.

    1. Okay, a lot there, I'll address just a few:

      Is the right to posses a firearm a natural right? No, because a firearm (specifically) is a product. Is the right to possess a weapon of some kind a natural right? Yes, because I can always go pick up a stick or a rock. The right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution such that the US Government cannot impede it- not such that it is not subject to market forces. I have a right to own a gun (a weapon) in as much as I have a right to protect my own life. I only have a right to a gun (specifically) in as much as I can afford and obtain one.

      The Right to an abortion? Besides the fact it does infringe on a Natural Right (that of Life), can you provide one for yourself? If not, it's not a right, it's a product or a service.

      A State has no Rights, because a State does not exist naturally. Society exists naturally, but a State (a Government) is explicitly man-made. It has Powers it derives from the People- either taken by force or given voluntarily.

      Health care can, and should, be viewed as an exchange of goods and services. That is the only ethical way to view it, unless you're willing to do that whole "force someone to provide a service" thing. Philosophically, the moment you take HCare out of the realm of an economic exchange, and turn it into some "higher right" what you have really done is said that those who learn to provide medical care are then obligated to do so. The two ideas are inseparable.

      I'm not even going to address your propaganda.

      But you still fail to answer these questions: Can you perform your own appendectomy or brain surgery? If Governments can mandate rights, does that mean they can revoke them?

    2. I can't, just as a child can't teach themselves how to read or perform mathematics with the same efficacy of a teacher. Or, just as a neighborhood watch could not quell a columbian drug cartel with the same effectiveness of the DEA. Sure your philosophy is "pure" but those purist philosophies are inherently the least effective. Privatization takes power out of the hands of the people, it's as simple as that.
      Also, if you have the right to a weapon, do you think people should be allowed to buy
      ANY weapon? Govt regulation serves a necessary function. It also employs millions (with better benefits than most corporations, now) and, quite simply, is not slavery.

    3. See below (clicked my own wrong button- gah), but I missed the weapon part.

      Yes. If I have the funds I should be able to purchase a fighter jet, a howitzer, or a tank.

    4. "Privatization takes power out of the hands of the people"..... wow. Don't even try with this one Allen. He has the typical leftist mental disease... i.e. up is down, black is white, wrong is right and slavery to government is freedom. -Some Guy In Wisconsin

  2. So, you're saying a properly trained surgeon could, indeed perform brain surgery on himself.

    Think about that for a moment.

    And "Privatization take power out of the hands of the people?" What? Privatization, by definition, empowers people. It empowers people to make their own choices. Unless your definition of "the people" is the same as Karl Marx.

    It is Privatization, in every sector, that has lead to a "First World" existing in the first place.

  3. I was attempting to explain how the gov't employs lots of people who are necessary, like teachers, police, GIs and fireman, all of which perform jobs the untrained Joe could not do, not imply kids can do surgery. Most people can't for tactical strikes against drug gangs or teach teens calculus, but we definitely pay for it.
    Also, privatization only leads to choice in theory, the modern reality has shown how monopolies and mega-corporations drive prices up, not down. That's
    one reason US medicine is 10X more expensive
    than Canadian.
    I won't really address the weapons argument. If
    that's not proof of how political idealism fails against practical reality, I don't know what is.

    1. Are you suggesting they (teachers, police, etc.) would not exist if the government didn't employ them? Also- do they work for free?

      And give me a single American example of a monopoly or "mega-corporation" which has driven up prices without the government's express permission and assistance. But I won't hold my breath, though.

      There are various reasons US medicine is more expensive that Canadian. One of them is that I can walk into my local ER or Urgent Care clinic and be seen in a couple of hours, if not mere minutes. Try that in Canada. Or Europe.

    2. Again, a mythology espoused by right wingers and lobbyists. You absolutely can be seen quickly in Can. or Euoeope, I've yet to encounter any evidence, statistical or anecdotal, to suggest otherwise.
      And sure, govt jobs could exist privately, but the employees would suffer the same fates as so many in the private sector -- cuts in benefits, vacation time, paycuts, layoffs, etc. Also, I don't want to have to pay two hundred dollars for a cop or firefighter to come help me, or $5 an hour for kids to go to school.
      And as for corporations gouging people w/out
      govt consent? Of course they have it, that
      doesn't make it economically prudent. It has lead to 98% of wealth in the hands of 2% of the population.

    3. When government fails to provide needed services, that need will be met. Ever hear of volunteer fire departments? Our County has one. Teachers can be replaced through home schooling, but many parents work. In that case, parents home schooling may offer to take in more children and start their own "school".

      Government has no skills, abilities, or talents that are not also found in the private sector. We are the same people with the same capabilities, whether in government employment or private.

  4. "I've yet to encounter any evidence, statistical or anecdotal, to suggest otherwise."

    Then you're not looking. For starters, see Stephen Crowder. He did a pretty good piece on the problem in Canada.

    "but the employees would suffer the same fates as so many in the private sector -- cuts in benefits, vacation time, paycuts, layoffs, etc"

    Heaven forbid that public sector employees suffer the same vagaries of the economy as the rest of us.

    "Also, I don't want to have to pay two hundred dollars for a cop or firefighter to come help me, or $5 an hour for kids to go to school."

    And yet, you already do. What, exactly, did you think your taxes were doing? Indeed, you would probably pay considerably less if we privatized, for instance, education.

    "And as for corporations gouging people w/out
    govt consent?"

    You didn't say "gouging," though... do you have an IPhone? You called them monopolies. That's a word with a specific meaning- and I asked you for an example. You also called them "mega-corporations." Tell me, do you use Windex?

    Absent Government consent and support, any company that ceases being competitive (that is: "gouges" consumers) will be put fairly quickly out of business as their competition undercuts their prices and provides better service.

    "It has lead to 98% of wealth in the hands of 2% of the population."

    Ah, there we get to it. Envy and class warfare. Even assuming you're right (you're not, but I'll go with it) isn't a better solution than "taking from the rich" simply to enlarge the pie?

    1. Many people pay for the PUBLIC services (education), and decide the quality is too low. They then PAY AGAIN for the same services (private schools) to attain a better "product." There is something to be said about quality in all of this: healthcare, education, roads, etc. If you think the government is the bastion of top quality service and talent for everything, then you haven't looked around much!

  5. My point about the police was that a private version would inevitably be more expensive, just like private healthcare (it's hard to argue with the empiricism.). I get how taxes work, to be clear.
    As for can health care, 2011 Gallup poll found 57 percent of cans felt satisfied, or, very satisfied with healthcare. Let's not pretend we come close to that. In fact, 2/3 of cans don't even use the public insurance, but use supplemental insurance whose prices have dropped due to the fact that cans can get it for free, otherwise.
    Oh, and, we do have private schools. They're a tad on the expensive side, if ya havn't heard. Fun fact: Farmville, VA was the last town in VA to
    desegregate. After doing so, white upper-middle
    class were so displeased they literally shut down the
    schools, opening a private school blacks couldn't
    afford. This created an entire generation of class
    warfare victims, too uneducated to succeed.
    As for widening the pie? Mitt plans to cut taxes on the middle class. Good, right? Another fun fact, though, MR defines the "middle class" as households earning 200-250 k/year. (Romney abc interview). Statistically, this would mean that Romney's class system would look like:
    1-96 percentile - lower class
    97-98 percentile: middle (yay, tax breaks for us!)
    99+ percentile, upper. (us, too!)
    You are living in a dream world if you think your economic ideologies are suited to building a stronger American economy.

    1. "They're a tad on the expensive side, if ya havn't heard."
      Actually, they're not. They operate on a far smaller budget than a comparative public school.

      "As for can health care, 2011 Gallup poll found 57 percent of cans felt satisfied, or, very satisfied with healthcare."

      Prior to ObamaCare, something on the order of 80% of Americans were satisfied or very satisfied with health care. Advantage: Capitalism.

      "Mitt plans to cut taxes on the middle class. Good, right?"
      You do realize that most people "earning 200-250k/year" are small business owners who happen to be filing their business earnings on their personal taxes, yes?

      And your numbers are wrong. Everyone who is currently paying net taxes (roughly 53% of Americans) would get some amount of tax cut. Frankly, I don't care about that- the Bush (wait, now they're Obama's) rates are fine, but I'm always up for keeping more of my money. The only people who wouldn't get a cut are people who currently pay no net income taxes anyway. You'll excuse me if I don't cry for them not getting more of my money.

      Every time that taxes have been cut, receipts to the treasury have gone up- which would help negate some of Obama's trillion dollar deficits. Additionally, more than 50% of small business owners say that the current climate (that is, ObamaCare) is preventing them from hiring more, and that they would not open a new business if a climate like this one.

      The dream world is the one that thinks socialism works.

    2. Lol of course they're on a smaller budget, they teach a microcosm of the American population. If you privatized education (an idea that will never come to fruition because of how ridiculously it would fail) large populations simply wouldn't be able to afford it, JUST LIKE healthcare. So what, now large chunks of future leaders can't form cogent sentences because they had the bad luck of being born into a lower class? It's just like now with the kid who can't get glasses because dad got layed off and they need to pay rent rather than spend $100 on an eye exam. These "cry me a river" stories are the new American reality.
      And 80 percent of people enjoyed healthcare in 08? Are you joking? The 08 election was predicated almost entirely on American dissatisfaction with healthcare! It was Obamas whole platform, and he won by 10 million votes. 80 percent of Americans didn't even have healthcare, get your facts straight. The only reason that "Obamacare" was unpopular was because he was demonized in 2010 by GOPers and Fox news, likened to a communist, and, yes, a Nazi.
      As for your ideas on taxes, I'm sure you already know that most of those 47% are
      military vets, retirees and working families with tax credits. Real bums if you ask me.
      But enough of defending Obama. Mitt comes to the table with not a single concrete idea on how to make things better. Maybe if the GOP focused more on cooperating with presidential hegemony, and let him pass policies instead of shooting down every bill proposed we'd be further along than we are.

    3. At this point, you've devolved into pure propaganda, and simply become boring. You provide assertions with no evidence, and when directed toward evidence you don't like, you ignore it and move on.

      Mitt Romney has provided far more "details" about what he would do regarding the economy than Barack Obama did in '08, and I doubt that was a problem for you.

      If the GOP were the problem, why didn't all of these policies pass in 2009 & 2010? You know, when Democrats had super-majorities in both houses of Congress? The fact is that Obama got everything he asked for and more in 2009 & 2010.

      Because of the policies enacted then, we have UE (the more forgiving U3 measure) over 8% for working on 43 consecutive months- he promised it wouldn't go above 8%. Was he lying, or incompetent?

      Because of the policies enacted then, Median Household income has fallen over 8% since his inauguration.

      Because of the policies enacted then, we've more than doubled the debt in less than 4 years, and are running trillion dollar deficits which will only increase.

      Because of the policies enacted then, we've thrown away billions of dollars on "green energy projects" like Solyndra and (now) Tesla motors.

      He's a complete and utter (dare I say "stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable?") failure.

  6. Haha I have posited numerous unanswered arguments, but fine, we seem to have entered the "agree to disagree" phase, and let's be clear, your arguments aren't particularly engaging. You already know what i'l say at this point -- that BO didn't get cooperation from his own party (a fact) and that the recent drop in uninsured Americans by 1.3 % is due to Obamacare. But there are still 45-48 million uninsured Americans. That's not propaganda, that's a fact. You never adressed your "80%" comment (which you clearly just made up), nor did you provide any evidence (empiracle, please) on how privatization increases affordability, or answer my arguments against the impracticalities of your ideologies. I'll stop posting, sure, but please ask yourself what modern society can function, prosperously, with the tenants you espouse: the freedom to bear any weapon one might be able to afford, the repression of women's rights to have abortions, the near complete privatization of gov't services, and, the self inflicted inability to enact social reform. This every-man-for-themselves society sounds better suited for kit carson's wild west, and, putting aside the decorum I've maintained in this discussion, you sound like an idiot.