Friday, July 31, 2009

A Right To Health Care

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government." ~ Patrick Henry

My Professor Doctor Nephew recently wrote on his Facebook page, "I want to live in a country that believes that health care is a right, not a privilege, and I'd really like it if that country were the United States. And I'd be willing to pay my dues to such a country in the form of higher income tax."

I ignored the statement initially because he is family, and I've always believed family trumps ideological differences. But it's getting harder and harder to resist the urge to directly challenge him on what I consider wrong-headed thinking.

So, after a particularly disturbing dream about my aged mother that left me sleepless, I lay awake in my bed thinking of other unrelated and diverse things, which unfortunately disturbed me even more.

One of these things was the aforementioned statement by my highly educated relative.

I have often said health care is not a right and here I see my own blood relative advancing the idea that if it isn't a right already, it certainly should be, even to the point where he is willing to pay higher taxes to attain that perceived right.

As far as taxes are concerned, I am of the opinion that we will have taxes regardless, and since I am poor, I pay very few taxes, if any. Therefore, it is not a personally important issue to me, although I hardly think it's fair to tax wealthier (than me) people a larger percentage. So, I won't comment on that part of his statement. Wealth is relative, anyway.

I've thought about that phrase, "health care is a right", and now, I am thinking perhaps I don't completely understand what constitutes a "right". It would also appear, that unless we make that definition understood, the health care debate will never be settled.

So, with both of my reader's indulgence, I am going to try to think this point out right here, on my web log.

First of all, when we say "right", to what kind of right are we referring? A Constitutional right? A human right? Are there any other kinds of rights? (That's not a rhetorical question. I really want to know)

Since health care has become a political issue, and because his phraseology indicates he doesn't believe health care is a right as of yet, I am going to assume Doctor Kevin is referring to a Constitutional right.

The Constitution confers upon every American the basic rights of life, liberty, and property.

But is Health Care a Constitutional right? And, if not, should it be? Does health care fall under the sub-division of the right to life, or of liberty, or of property? Does it fall under any of those?

Health Care itself, is a service. It is a service we have all come to expect when we need it, but can a service be considered a right? Can an expectation of a service be considered a right? And, why should we expect it in the first place?

I think Health Care service can be a right if we voluntarily make arrangements to compensate a provider of health care service. Or more simply, If we pay for it, we have the right to expect it. But isn't that more of a right to an expectation than a right to the service?

And, should we be compelled to pay for health care service?

In every transaction there is an exchange. If you buy a car, you exchange money for the car. If you barter, you are exchanging goods or services for other goods or services.

If the government supplies the health care, what will the government expect in exchange?

When we allow the government to provide us health care, or mandate that all of us have health insurance, we are surrendering our basic right to liberty. Mainly, the liberty to choose the health care provider we prefer. And, the liberty to choose how we want to pay for health care. And, the liberty to refuse health insurance if one so chooses.

As has been pointed out, of the mythical 47 million Americans who don't have health insurance, millions simply choose not to have insurance for various reasons.

Now, whether this is a wise decision is contingent on whether the individual has the money to pay for his own health care independent of insurance providers, or if the individual prefers to take a chance that he will not need health insurance until later, or yes, even if the individual believes he cannot afford health insurance.

But refusing to have health insurance is every individuals Constitutional right!

So, if the government assumes control over the health care industry, does it also assume the right to dictate what health insurance we can own? Or if an insurance corporation has the right to exist? If not, what would be the point of assuming control in the first place?

It would seem to follow, that once the government controls the industry, we exchange our individual freedoms for the so-called right to health care, does it not?

Don't those scenarios constitute the denial of our individual right to Liberty?

Is that not Governmental intrusion?

Barack Hussein Obama has been quoted as saying "the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you. But it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf."

But that is exactly what the framers intended. The Constitution was intended to protect the people from the Government, not to protect the government from the people. The Federal government does not have an obligation to provide us health care.

There is an old adage that states, "Your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose".

A mythical right to health care is the fist that government swings and my individual right to liberty is the end of my nose.

Our Constitutional right of Liberty trumps the governments right to intrude upon our liberties every time.

Therefore, It is my conclusion that we do not have an inherent right to health care.


LoneWolfArcher said...

What is funny in this debate is usually when people say health care is a right, what they mean is health care should be free.

However, no right guarantees cost-free access to that right.

Let's take the first amendment. We all have a right to free speech. But that doesn't mean we have FREE or costless access to that right. I can take out newspaper ads to exercise my right to free speech, but it would cost me to run that ad.

I could exercise my right to keep in bear arms, but that doesn't mean gun dealers have to give me a free gun.

I have a right to defend these rights in court, but that doesn't mean I get a free lawyer and don't have to pay court costs in order to do so.

A right doesn't make a service free. Maybe we all should have a right to go to a hospital and get ER treatment when necessary. But it doesn't mean that treatment should be free (without a cost).

P.S. Tell your relative that the IRS would gladly take any additional money he'd like to donate. Just right the check.

Most Rev. Gregori said...

Any time any individual, any group or organization agrees to accept any government benefit, subsidy, etc., will be mandated to adopt and abide by any and all rules, regulations, restrictions, etc., that the government may choose to impose upon you.

Therefore, National Health Care = bye, bye liberties and rights.

Anonymous said...

I would argue that your statement, "The Constitution confers upon every American the basic rights of life, liberty, and property," is incorrect. The Constitution recognizes that life, liberty and property are rights given by God. As such, it limits the government's authority to interfere with our free excercise of those rights.

If the 2nd Amendment was repealed tomorrow, you'd still have the "right" to defend yourself. It's inherent in your right to life and liberty which are from God.

The Constituion does not limit natural-born citizens. Rather it limits Government.

Edwin Drood said...

If health care is a right because we need it to live then why can't we just say food and water is a right.

I would last much longer without heath care than I would food and water.

Jim said...

Why does everyone who has Medicare love it? Why is the VA health care system touted as one of the best in the country?

Mark said...

Who says everyone on Medicare loves it? I know of no senior who sings the praises of Medicare.

The VA health system is touted as one of the best in the country? What country? Everything I've heard is that it's lousy.

Jim said...


"More importantly, the higher scores for Medicare are based on perceptions of better access to care. More than two thirds (70 percent) of traditional Medicare enrollees say they "always" get access to needed care (appointments with specialists or other necessary tests and treatment), compared with 63 percent in Medicare managed care plans and only 51 percent of those with private insurance."

Medicare versus Private Insurance: Rhetoric and Reality:

"Medicare out-performs private sector plans in terms of patients' satisfaction with quality of care, access to care, and overall insurance ratings. The survey found that elderly Medicare beneficiaries are 2.7 times more likely than enrollees in employer-sponsored plans to rate their health insurance as excellent and less likely to report negative experiences with their insurance plans."

Western Journal of Medicine:

"In general, Medicare enrollees reported high satisfaction with both access to and quality of health care. Most members (96%) rated skill, experience, and training of physicians and the friendliness and courtesy of the staff favorably."

VA Medical Care:

"Not only do veterans rate their VA care much higher overall than the general population rates its hospital experiences, vets also consistently give VA doctors and nurses high scores for "responsiveness" (83 out of a possible 100), courtesy (90 out of a 100), and "respect and dignity afforded patients" (91)."

The American Journal of Managed Care"

"Today, the VA is recognized for leadership in clinical informatics and performance improvement, cares for more patients with proportionally fewer resources, and sets national benchmarks in patient satisfaction and for 18 indicators of quality in disease prevention and treatment...he VA's success in improving quality, safety, and value have allowed it to emerge as an increasingly recognized leader in healthcare [emphasis added]."

Lone Ranger said...

The libs deliberately muddy the waters by confusing political rights with human rights. If you were stranded on an uninhabited island, what you would have is human rights -- the right to self-defense, the right to build shelter, the right to find food. Political rights are those that would not exist on the island, such as the right to vote, to speak freely, to drive a car, etc..

On the one hand, libs take away your human right to self-defense with their stupid gun bans. On the other hand, they create human rights by saying health care, food and shelter are rights.

The Founding Fathers understood that human rights descend from God. When you take that away from an all-powerful being and give that power to government, you create an all-powerful government. The only rights a government can grant are those it has first taken away. And once a government takes away a right, it takes decades to get it back -- if ever.

Trader Rick said...

"Jim" lives in a distorted parallel universe. Be happy, don't worry!

Jim said...

So TR, citing facts and several opinion polls demonstrating the popularity of government-run health care systems is living in a parallel universe? Really? OK, I'll take the fact-based universe and you can stay in the delusion-based one.

Joe said...

benjaminbeckley: You are correct.

Rights are those fundamental attributes tht are basic to the phyche of humanity, four of which are listed in out founding documents, The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States: life, liberty, the persuit of happiness and the right to personal ownership of property.

There is a yearning of most people to be healthy, or, more correctly, a despondency related to their degree of unhealthiness, but there is no right to health and/or health care.

Suppose we passed an amendment that said, "All citizens have the right to health."

It would make no differece. People would still get sick and die.

Government does not grant rights, it protects the ones we already have.

Thus, if we don't naturally have a right to health care, the government cannot give us one.

If we do have a right to health care, what kind of care do we have a right to? Top-notch (like congresspersons)? Mediocre? A modecum?

We just have to get the word out that, unlike the former USSR, the United States government does not have the right to confer rights.

Joe said...

Jim: I am on Medicare, and I HATE it with a passion.

Z said...

LoneWolf makes a great point about how "a right" seems to be automatically considered "free" by many.

A lot of Conservatives feel only FREE things ARE real RIGHTS.....freedom, opportunity, self-reliance, interesting position.

Joe, what do you hate so much about Medicare? BEcause Mr. Z is a German and worked most of his appliable hours he worked here were with a German company, we were devastated that he can't get medicare when he turned the right age! It would be nice to hear we're wrong in our disappointment because it sure costs a lot to insure us both...I won't be the age for a long while....but, he'll be eligible then.

Jim said...

Joe, sorry about that, but you are apparently in the minority.

I find this whole "rights" discussion very interesting. Seems to me that absent a governing structure, people have whatever "rights" they manage to make for themselves against the forces of nature and the might of their neighbors or society.

Defending yourself against a charging lion isn't a right. It's a human reaction to danger. God didn't give you a "right" to defend yourself against the lion. He gave you a sense of self preservation and whatever physical or mental capacity you have to be successful at not being lion food. The lion doesn't care if you have some "right", he only cares if you taste good.

Likewise, your neighboring tribe doesn't care if you have some "right" to keep them from killing you. They only care if your numbers or weapons or more or less superior to yours.

Mark said...

I stand corrected. The Constitution does not confer any rights to the citizenry. It eloquently affirms that we are given rights by God, and states those rights should not be taken away, not by the Government, or by anyone else.

So, I must offer this apologia:

This post started out at 5:30 in the morning and I didn't hit "publish" until nearly 11:00AM. The reason is, I had a lot I wanted to say, but couldn't find the proper words with which to articulate my thoughts. I wrote a paragraph, then deleted it, and then another paragraph, then deleted it, over and over and over.

It started out as a germ of an idea and became a labor of love, but ended as a labor of disgust. I just couldn't quite express myself as coherently as I would have liked, and this is the end result. As it turned out, this project has proven to be a little too ambitious for my abilities.

Part of the post wandered so far off topic that I cut it, but saved it to my word processor program, thinking it looks very much like the beginning of a pretty good book.

I think I may work on that independently of my job, my blog, my Facebook applications, and my life. If I have time.

Eventually, still unsatisfied with what I had written, I just dropped back ten yards and punted, assuming, hopefully, that both of my loyal readers would elaborate further, and possibly state what I failed to do so miserably.

Jim said...

The Constitution says nothing about "God-given" rights.

Lone Ranger said...

See what I mean? Here we have a lib who declares that we do not have a RIGHT to defend ourselves against tigers. Following that "logic," it would be perfectly OK to disarm someone, tie his arms behind his back and send him into the jungles of India. That is exactly what liberal politicos do when the pass gun bans in places like New York, Chicago and Los Angelos.

As for the Constitution saying nothing about God-given rights, that is intellectually-dishonest cherry picking. The Constitution also says nothing about banning guns or aborting babies, but that doesn't stop liberals.

Jim said...

"following that logic". LR, your logic is like a bouquet of dead flowers that smells bad.

As far as tigers (I actually said a lion), there is no right involved. Either you have the skill, speed or strength or you don't. "Rights" have nothing to do with it.

The Constitution doesn't say anything about telephones, green beans, Toyotas, masturbating, F-15s, iPods, in vitro fertilization, trains, marriage, Jesus Christ, and a lot of other things. Doesn't mean they don't exist, you can or can't have them or do it. Actually it does say something about banning guns.