Healthcare is not a right

Dec 2019
213
21
Europe
Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “I believe that health care is a right of all people.” He’s not alone in that contention. That claim comes from Democrats and Republicans and liberals and conservatives. It is not just a health care right that people claim. There are “rights” to decent housing, decent food, a decent job and prescription drugs. In a free and moral society, do people have these rights? Let’s begin by asking ourselves: What is a right?

In the standard usage of the term, a “right” is something that exists simultaneously among people. In the case of our U.S. Constitutional decree, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our individual right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness imposes no obligation upon another other than the duty of noninterference.

As such, a right imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess simultaneously. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. Again, that right imposes no obligation upon another except that of noninterference.

Sanders’ false claim that health care is a right does impose obligations upon others. We see that by recognizing that there is no Santa Claus or tooth fairy who gives resources to government to pay for medical services. Moreover, the money does not come from congressmen and state legislators reaching into their own pockets to pay for the service. That means that in order for government to provide medical services to someone who cannot afford it, it must use intimidation, threats and coercion to take the earnings of another American to provide that service.

A moral vision of rights does not mean that we should not help our fellow man in need. It means that helping with health care needs to be voluntary (i.e., free market decisions or voluntary donations to charities that provide health care.) The government’s role in health care is to protect this individual right to choose.

The provision by the U.S. Congress of a so-called right to health care should offend any sense of moral decency. If you’re a Christian or a Jew, you should be against the notion of one American living at the expense of another.