EDIT: I had to rename the title to more accurately reflect the argument. I’m not saying that you have no right to seek health care as much as I am saying you are not entitled to services provided by another (beyond the government).
So there’s this idea that’s been spreading about for a while and it has really picked up steam since Senator Sanders started pushing for it in their “progressive” platform. That idea is the ‘right’ to healthcare and the ‘right’ to education. Today, I’d like to rain on some parades and explain to you why these are not rights. I’ll focus on healthcare but the same argument will apply to education as well.
Before we explain why something is not a ‘right’, let’s figure out what a ‘right’ is to begin with. The definition of right is this:
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory – Wikipedia
I actually find this definition quite acceptable. Rights are important because they act as a guiding principle to the way you want your society to be run.
But where do we get our rights? I’d like to say we get our rights from the government because in one sense we do,but I don’t feel that’s entirely proper. Saying you get your rights from the government sort of distances you from how you obtained your rights in the first place. You could replace government with God and essentially have the same sentence. Are you familiar with the idea of the “Social Contract“? The philosophy is that people define their government, voluntarily giving up their power in exchange for protection of their rights. So put simply: we define our rights. Our rights are defined when we create this contract in which we give the government its legitimacy. In the United States, this contract is the Constitution.
What are some rights that we in the United States have that you may be familiar with. We have the right to assembly, the right to petition the government, the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of the press. At present, we have the right to bear arms but I’m skeptical of how much longer that will remain as Clinton moves towards the office and the ‘progressive party’ starts to get more involved with government. But that’s a complaint for another day. We have the right to an attorney. In fact, I’ll just list the Bill of Rights here because that’s really what it is. I’ll try to limit each right to a sentence if possible.
- The right to assemble, petition the government, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.
- The right to bear arms.
- A fairly antiquated amendment, I’d describe it as the right to your own home. Specifically, this amendment prevents the government from forcing you to put up soldiers in your home.
- Unreasonable search and seizure, you can’t be searched without a warrant.
- The right to a fair trial, and the right to not be forced to testify against oneself.
- Right to a speedy trial (you can’t have your trial delayed arbitrarily).
- Right to a trial by jury.
- Right to fair punishment (no ‘cruel or unusual sentences’).
- You have rights not listed in the Constitution.
- Powers not given to the government belong to the states or the people.
So if you live in the United States, you are guaranteed all of these rights. The 9th amendment is a ‘catch-all’ which is pretty much the founding fathers saying “We can’t list all of your rights, use common sense for the rest” or at least, that’s my interpretation. Do note that I am not a law in constitutional law, so my opinion is just that, my opinion. But do you notice any special about the amendments? They all seem to be focused on an individual. The main trend among these rights is that they don’t require unwilling parties (with the exception of the seventh). All of these rights focus on an individual’s place in the government.
The most important thing about rights is that they don’t trample one another. You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you. However, you do not have the right to silence others from offending you, because such a ‘right’ would trample another right. Then you run into an issue of ‘which right is right’? Law seems to be a tricky business that I’m quite glad that I stayed out of. So every right is distinct.Do you pay for your rights? Through jury duty, draft (if you’re male), and taxes, essentially yes.
Now let’s talk about what a ‘right to healthcare’ would entail. A right to healthcare suggests that doctors would be required to operate on you regardless of how much you are willing to pay. A right to healthcare suggests that pharmacies would be required to provide you with drugs regardless of what you are willing to pay. You would be entitled to this service because of your place within the country. This, I don’t like. It infringes on the rights of the individuals providing that service. I have the right to charge what I want to charge for my product or service. You have the right to purchase my product or service, or to refuse to purchase my product or service. I have the right to my body and everything that entails. I own my lungs, my heart, my liver, my spleen, my everything. I also own my labor. I cannot be forced to provide labor if I am unwilling to. You can’t force Wal-Mart to hire me any more than you can force me to work for Wal-Mart.
If healthcare were a right, you would be infringing on the rights of the doctors to provide their labour in the manner that they see fit for the price that they see fit. You would be infringing on the right of the pharmaceutical company to charge the prices that they want for their drugs. Essentially, what I’m saying is if you want to make healthcare a right, you’d either have to trample the rights of doctors, or find a way to provide healthcare through the government through volunteers.
See, it’s a weird issue because it’s always framed in the way of costs. Do I mind taking a healthcare tax to provide healthcare to everyone? Personally? Not in the least. But do I mind requiring that healthcare providers provide healthcare regardless of their whether or not they want to for the prices stated? Absolutely.
The problem we are running into this election cycle, and by extension this generation, is the idea of entitlement. The millennial generation is a bunch of entitled children. Am I saying that they’re dumb? Absolutely not. I know several very hardworking millennials that I respect very highly. Do I think that millennials want free stuff or think that the Sanders plan would’ve given them free stuff? Absolutely not. I believe most millennials recognize that the money had to come from somewhere, and it would have likely come from them. However, what I do think is that millennials have a problem discerning their freedoms and whether or not they are necessary. Each year, as more and more students go through the college system which brainwashes the liberal bias into them, they become a little more authoritarian. When students are attempting to sign away free speech (I believe most Americans agree that the first amendment is the most important one) citing that they have the right to not be offended by others. They’ve also been a major push-back against the second amendment. Honestly I wish they’d care as much about the fourth amendment as they do about revoking the first because the fourth one is the one in trouble. Sure, the Supreme Court made the correct ruling that time, but the fact that police are breaking it is a sign of bad times to come.
The worst part is that I can see the good intentions behind the movement, right? Why would you oppose universal health care? Are you so greedy as to not want to help other people pay for their doctor visits and medication? It’s this idea of altruism that guides this hand. If you oppose this altruism, you get branded a bigot. “What? You don’t care that people are dying because they can’t afford healthcare? You must hate poor people”. Then you become a social outcast and who wants to become an outcast? But the problem comes in the way of ‘forced altruism’. If I want to give to charity, it should be on my terms, not someone else’s. Because it’s my money, my services, my property going into this act of charity. I recognize that it very may well be for ‘the greater good’ but that doesn’t mean that I give up my rights to satisfy it.
Wouldn’t a universal living wage be for the greater good? Like getting paid just to live (which I foresee as an inevitable outcome as automation becomes more and more widespread). How about homes? We have a ton of unused homes and a ton of space in the used homes. Wouldn’t it be for the greater good if every home in the United States took on a homeless person (or people, proportional to the size of the home) and gave them a place to stay? We would reduce homelessness! Unfortunately in doing so, you’ve forfeited the right to your property. And the worst part is – once rights are gone, once rights are surrendered to the government, they aren’t easily reclaimed. That’s why we must hold out against these oppressive movements as long as we can, and educate their proponents on the consequences that would arise if they were successful.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I recognize the goodwill, but reject the premise on the grounds that I enjoy my freedoms and rights. Thanks for reading.