Wednesday, September 9

Rights & Responsibilities

According to the wisdom of the day, healthcare is a universal human right. When the term "universal right" is used, I cannot help but think of the Bill of Rights, where rights such as free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are enumerated. However, as best as I can tell, the people who use the term "universal right" as applied to healthcare mean something different than what I think of when I hear the term.

As I understand it, every right possessed by Person A implies a responsibility on the part of Person B. For example:

- my right to speak my mind means you have the responsibility to NOT prevent me from speaking my mind.
- my right to freedom of assembly means you the responsibility to NOT prevent me from assembling with whomever I want.
- my right to worship as I see fit means you have the responsibility to NOT prevent me from worshiping as I see fit.

However, there are also limits to your responsibility:
- you are not responsible to publish my speech
- you are not responsible to drive me to my meeting place
- you are not responsible to contribute to my religion

In other words, your responsibilities to my rights are negative - you are obligated to NOT PREVENT me from doing something. This is the simplest way to test whether something is really a universal right. The cool thing about this system of universal rights and obligations is that it requires no effort on my part to NOT PREVENT you from doing something. I don't have to take action nor do I have to spend time or money or effort to allow you to exercise your rights. My responsibility to you is to do nothing.

Does "universal healthcare" pass this test? Nope, not in the slightest.

In the current debate, if you have a right to healthcare, it obligates someone else to provide that care, does it not? If you have a right to be treated for cancer, then obviously some doctor has an obligation to treat you for cancer. If you have a right to diabetes medicine, then some drug company has the obligation to provide you that medicine, some doctor has the obligation to write the prescription, and some pharmacist has the obligation to prepare the medicine. And if the doctor, pharmacist or drug company somehow fail to provide that care, treatment and medicine properly, then apparently you have the right to sue them for malpractice which service - no doubt - some schmuck lawyer will be obligated to provide you.

Whatever else this may be, it is not a universal right. It sounds a lot like slavery to me: forcing someone else, against their will or their best interests, to provide time, labor and/or money for your wishes, wants and desires.

Those who claim that everyone has a "right" to universal healthcare obviously mean something different by the word "right" than the Founders meant when they penned the Bill of Rights.

Forgive me, but I fail to see how you have any right to obligate me to provide you healthcare. I just don't see it.

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