Is health care a right?

I like this answer by Walter E. Williams:

"True rights, such as those in our Constitution, or those considered to be natural or human rights, exist simultaneously among people. That means exercise of a right by one person does not diminish those held by another. In other words, my rights to speech or travel impose no obligations on another except those of non-interference. If we apply ideas behind rights to health care to my rights to speech or travel, my free speech rights would require government-imposed obligations on others to provide me with an auditorium, television studio or radio station. My right to travel freely would require government-imposed obligations on others to provide me with airfare and hotel accommodations.

For Congress to guarantee a right to health care, or any other good or service, whether a person can afford it or not, it must diminish someone else's rights, namely their rights to their earnings. The reason is that Congress has no resources of its very own. Moreover, there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy giving them those resources. The fact that government has no resources of its very own forces one to recognize that in order for government to give one American citizen a dollar, it must first, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American. If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn.

To argue that people have a right that imposes obligations on another is an absurd concept. A better term for new-fangled rights to health care, decent housing and food is wishes. If we called them wishes, I would be in agreement with most other Americans for I, too, wish that everyone had adequate health care, decent housing and nutritious meals. However, if we called them human wishes, instead of human rights, there would be confusion and cognitive dissonance. The average American would cringe at the thought of government punishing one person because he refused to be pressed into making someone else's wish come true.

None of my argument is to argue against charity. Reaching into one's own pockets to assist his fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else's pockets to do so is despicable and deserves condemnation."

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

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  • Tom Wall

    A lot of fine sentiments but surely missing the point. What you are seeing is an example of how the democratic process works.

    You stand for election with an agenda which you sell to the electorate. If you win, you then have a mandate and with it the power to levy taxes to pay for these plans.

    To quote you “If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn”.
    Tax does not work this way.
    You could argue that taxpayers in Alaska or just about every other state in the Union should have had no obligation to come to the rescue then contribute towards the re-construction of post hurricane New Orleans as it is irrelevant to the everyday life of most Americans.

    Tax is not fair.It is a blunt instrument that Governments use to raise cash and deter us from doing things of which they disapprove

    Being a Brit living in the UK I am no expert on US affairs. From this side of the Atlantic we get the impression that the Obama administration is having a relatively easy ride as the Republicans seem to be in a state of disarray and are not as effective opposition as they perhaps could be.
    With a stronger, more united, opposition the outcome might have been different.

    This is democracy in action.

  • Scott Howard

    If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn. Exactly. Am. I the only one who’s read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand? These boomers learned this Marxist crap in college in the 60’s, that’s where this attitude of “If someone has more than you, you’re entitled to it because that means you’re disadvantaged” came from. Then all the hardworking old people from 1915 retired in the 80’s, & these retarded babies took over. Now sloth is revered. If you get more work done than someone else, you’re shunned. Ambition is punished. That’s why it’s called a RIGHT to health care. It’s expensive, so some can afford it & some can’t. Well, if you can’t, you’re entitled to it. See a pattern here? I did, the first time I found out what Obamacare was (to be), but of course, nobody wanted to hear it. Now Bernie wants free college for all. That’s a great & worthy idea. For once, I’m not being sarcastic. It really is. An educated populace is obviously preferable. Only, two problems. One: the whole education system in America is not about education, it’s about producing slaves who are just smart enough to perform the tasks assigned to them, & dull enough to withstand the spirit-crushing tedium of same & remain unaware of the fact that they’re screwed to the floor from the womb to the tomb. Two: Where do they expect to get the money for this? The taxpayers? What fucking taxpayers? Do people working part-time at Wal-Mart or somewhere even make enough to pay taxes? I read an article by an economist in Playboy 20 years ago, when America was only $3 trillion in debt, that said that represented an imaginary number. Meaning, that was slightly more money than all the dollars, pesos, yen, pounds, Canadian dollars, deutschmarks, kroners, rubles, etc. etc. Now it’s $18 trillion, maybe more, I haven’t checked in a few days. Six times an imaginary number. Most of the industries that provided the jobs that paid well enough that enough people paid enough taxes to support things like free health care & free college are in other countries now. Back then, we didn’t need free gov’t this & that, because working people could go get what they needed. It’s over. Your people can’t provide for themselves, let alone “for all”. These people don’t know how the fuck they’re gonna send their own kids to college. So what, they’re gonna provide college for all now? Healthcare? Are the Japanese and the other countries America’s in hock to up to its eyeballs, gonna keep on writing the checks? Tread lightly, aya, on this house of cards.