Friday, January 12, 2007

That can't be a right!

Ben Westlund explains in the pages of the Sisters Nuggett what prompted him to become a Democrat. He read the platform of the Democrat party, and when he got to the part that read:

'The Democratic Party of Oregon believes access to effective, affordable
healthcare is a fundamental human right,"
That was all he needed to know. He agreed, and so he became a Democrat.
Both Westlund and the Democrat party make a fundamental error here. Our republic is founded on the notion of individual rights. The framers, heavily influenced by the writings of John Locke, knew what rights are: rights are things that the government cannot take from you. Speech, property, liberty. Given to us by our creator, they cannot be taken away by government, and it is the government's primary function to protect them.
Democrats apparently reject the notion of rights that our republic was founded upon. They apparently believe that rights are things the government MUST do FOR you.
This is far more than a little semantic difference. It is fundamental to the central question that divides the individualist philosophy from the collectivist philosophy: what is the appropriate role of government?
If a right is something the government must give you, then that inherently means that the government must take it from someone else. If people have a "right" to health care, then of course we cannot limit the amount of care they get, and therefore there is no limit on how much the government can take from others to pay for it.
In the collectivist world view, rights do not reside with the individual, but rather, with the "collective." If society needs the fruits of your labor for the benefit of the group, then you must give it up. It is your duty to subvert your individual well-being for the well-being of others.
In other words, you must live for others. There is a word for people who are forced to live for others....


: JustaDog said...

Gee - I checked the Constitution of the USA and found NO such "right".

Democrats are good at classifying their demands as "rights". In all cases, like you posted, someone has to pay.

Democrats prefer the free-ride: free of self responsibility while putting the burden on those that are responsible.

John Eyler said...

You're right on the money!

Chris McMullen said...

Meanwhile, there's a deafening silence from the likes of NARAL...what happened to "keep your laws off my body?"

Anonymous said...

This was first written up on the EyeOnOregon blog:

Other good stuff there as well.

Dare!PDX said...

Good post.

Take it a step farther. This is a defining difference between our parties as we define the roles of government and our elected representiatives.

The Republican party stands for a government that is curtailed from stepping to far. We have a right to a limited government. Democrats have a right to a budget allotment regardless of how inept it is administered.

At its core the philosophy of Republicans is that the smallest government possible is the best protection from tyranny. Democrats consider a little tyranny the cost of a fairer civilization.

Westlund likes power with less accountablity. He made the slide to the D's when his lone gambit to seize some push for a weak governor's seat.

If the state of Oregon becomes our health care provider I would be far more nervous than my current inperfect system. Westlund wanting to have a hand directly in its management makes it even more risky.

Matt Evans said...

Far too many Oregonians - and Americans - are willing to swallow nonsense such as that spouted by Sen. Westlund. Who was it that said democracy will survive only until the people realize they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury? We are closer every day to the majority being willing to vote themselves an unearned cut from someone else's salary/assets.

Kari Chisholm said...

Rob -- Let's set aside, for now, the semantic question of whether health care is a "right".

A much better question: Should the state ensure that all people have access to affordable, effective health care?

I don't particularly care whether we classify health care (or education) as a "right" or just a "darn good thing".

I just think everyone deserves to be healthy. At least as healthy as they want or can manage to be. (Yes, personal responsibility plays a role. Put down that pizza!)

And, btw, not everyone believes that improved health care requires a new government program or increased government spending. For one idea that would use existing dollars to extend PRIVATE health care to all Americans (and abolish Medicaid in the process), try this website.

Eric Winters said...

Should the state ensure that all people have access to affordable, effective health care?

Sure, if it can do so without undermining its core function: protecting rights of others.

But it can't. To fund this system, it must appropriate from people who do not want to particpate (violating the right to property).

The system will reduce incentives for individual preventative steps, requiring the government to prohibit unhealthy activities (smoking, transfat eating, bungee jumping, etc) to contain costs (violating the right to liberty).

But even that isn't good enough to make universal healthcare solvent, because competition necessarily undermines socialized medicine. So rather than admit defeat, the government will more further regulate private practice so as to restrict trade to prevent the best doctors from opting out (violating more liberty rights).

The most important purpose of government is to protect the rights of citizens. With every attempt to exceed that function, a government risks undermining it.

Maybe progressives will understand a contemporary metaphor. The (undisputed) primary purpose of a national military is to defend the country from foreign attack. The more we ask the military to exceed that function (e.g., nationbuilding), the more we risk undermining it.

Kari Chisholm said...

To fund this system, it must appropriate from people who do not want to particpate (violating the right to property).

That's a suggestion that the government should not have the power of taxation at all. I suppose that's a legitimate opinion - but it's not one that I or most Americans share.

As for the rest of your comments, I'm not sure which "system" you're referring to -- but most of those comments certainly don't apply to the one proposed by Senator Wyden, which I linked to above.

Under his PRIVATE universal health care system, the only thing that changes is the funding mechanism. Doctors can "opt out" if they like. Just like they can opt out of the current system as it is now. (Hard to find many patients if you won't take private insurance, but it's within your rights.)

Rob Kremer said...


The whole point of my post was to talk about the semantic difference between how the liberal/collectivist mindset thinks of rights and how the conservative/individualist mindset thinks of it.

But, ok, I'll leave that aside and addess your issue. You ask: "Should the state ensure that all people have access to affordable, effective health care?"

My answer would be, I guess, if it could, then perhaps I'd agree that it should. But it can't.

Does the state ensure that all people have access to affordable, effective schools?

The fact is, government is not an effective vehicle to provide universal services of any type. I'm not interested in expanding the purview of the state to encompass this area, even though health care is a big problem.

Don Smith said...

To Matt:

"Who was it that said..."

That would be Frederic Bastiat in The Law.

Brilliant work by a brilliant man. If you haven't read it, read it. It's short.