There Ain’t No Such Thing As a Free Lumpectomy

The folly of a "right to health care"

This week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared that his chamber’s health care bill “demands for the first time in American history that good health will not depend on great wealth.” Reid said the legislation “acknowledges, finally, that health care is a fundamental right—a human right—and not just a privilege for the most fortunate.”

Since more than four-fifths of Americans already have medical insurance, and even those without “great wealth” have been known to enjoy “good health,” Reid was laying it on a little thick. But his premise, which is shared by President Obama, explains the moral urgency felt by supporters of the health care overhaul that is making its way through Congress. It also reveals a radical assault on the traditional American understanding of rights.

The Framers believed the Constitution recognized pre-existing rights, protecting them from violation by the government. The common law likewise developed as a way of protecting people from wrongful interference by their neighbors. If people have rights simply by virtue of being human, those rights can be violated (by theft or murder, for example) even in the absence of government.

By contrast, notwithstanding Reid’s claim that government-subsidized health care is a fundamental human right, it does not make much sense to say that it exists in a country too poor to afford such subsidies or at a time before modern medicine, let alone in the state of nature. Did Paleolithic hunter-gatherers have a right to the “affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care” that the Congressional Progressive Caucus says is a right of “every person”? If so, who was violating that right?

During his second presidential debate with Republican nominee John McCain, Obama said health care “should be a right for every American.” Why? “There's something fundamentally wrong,” he said, “in a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills.”

According to the president, people have a right to health care because it is wrong to charge them for medical services they can’t afford. Which is another way of saying they have a right to health care.

While liberty rights such as freedom of speech or freedom of contract require others to refrain from acting in certain ways, “welfare rights” such as the purported entitlement to health care (or to food, clothing, or shelter) require others to perform certain actions. They represent a legally enforceable claim on other people’s resources. Taxpayers must cover the cost of subsidies; insurers and medical professionals must provide their services on terms dictated by the government.

A right to health care thus requires the government to infringe on people’s liberty rights by commandeering their talents, labor, and earnings. And since new subsidies will only exacerbate the disconnect between payment and consumption that drives health care inflation, such interference is bound to increase as the government struggles to control ever-escalating spending. Rising costs will also encourage the government to repeatedly redefine the right to health care, deciding exactly which treatments it includes.

If health care is a fundamental right, equality under the law would seem to require that everyone have the same level of care, regardless of their resources. That principle was illustrated by the case of Debbie Hirst, a British woman with metastasized breast cancer who in 2007 was denied access to a commonly used drug on the grounds that it was too expensive.

When Hirst decided to raise money to pay for the drug on her own, she was told that doing so would make her ineligible for further treatment by the National Health Service. According to The New York Times, “Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.” The right to health care is so important, it seems, that it can nullify itself. 

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2009 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • Suki||

    I thought we already had the right to seek the best healthcare available?

  • ||

    The genius of the free market is that both the rich and poor get the choice of paying for expensive health care or dying.
    It's fuckin' awesome!

  • Constitutu's Mom||

    Connie, you'd better not be on that computer again!

  • ||

    Mom jokes are punny!

  • ||

    STFU CRAYON!

  • ||

    All criticism of libertarian thought is trolling, because libertarian thought is flawless and pure as driven snow.

    Burn the heretic,
    Kill the mutant,
    Purge the unclean.

    Silence his infidel tongue!

  • ||

    STFU, you fucking shithead!
    I wish I could just ban you permanently!
    How dare you criticize us here!
    This is our web site!
    Our web site!

  • ||

    Crayon, do not post your stupid shit using my name.

  • ||

    Don't try your revisionist mindtricks on me.

  • Draco||

    Does anyone else find it, I don't know, exceedingly odd (at least, if not pathetic), that someone like "crayon" or "Constitutu" would spend so much of his time and energy coming to a libertarian blog site to attack and troll and ridicule the political philosophy of the majority of the community?

    Does anyone else think that Ayn Rand had these kinds of "people" down pat in her novels?

    Something terrible must have happened in his childhood.

  • ||

    I'm all for free speech,
    but enough is enough!

    Something has to be done about this idiot!

  • deluded1||

    Chill Hyperion, he's just not worth it.

    The reality is that, everyone dies. Free market or no...and in this case, there is none. His idiotic rants regarding that "in a free market everyone pay for expensive health care or dies" makes no sense.

    Getting upset with him is the equivalent of becoming upset while attempting to explain how a lock mechanism works to an Amazonian tribesman. They can't compute it due to the narrow scope of their world view. It's best to let them live in their world of bark and bugs.

  • ||

    Dude, it's not me, it's crayon posting using my name. He's pissed because I am always bitch slapping here, because, well he deserves it.

  • ||

    And how, exactly, are you bitchslapping anyone?

    HURR DURRRR
    I BITCHSLAPPED YOUR MOM
    DURRR HURRR

    doesn't really count.

  • oaktownadam||

    I've had enough of your whining about somebody who disagrees with you.

    Somebody please ban Hyperion.....

  • ||

    Constitu and crayon are one and the same. Now he stoops to making stupid post using my name.

  • josey||

    Stoops? That's quite charitable of you.

  • ||

    Regretting your little fascist censorship outburst and now blaming it on me?

    Priceless.

    Admit it, you're just another Republican in disguise.
    If you were a Transformer you'd be a Decepticonservative.

  • ||

    Maybe they are paid to come here.
    Maybe they are on the welfare and have a lot of time on there hands.

  • ||

    Or 'they' live in their moms basement and have no life outside of getting in self humiliating debates with grown up Libertarians.

  • ||

    HURRR DURRRR
    I HUMILIATED HIM BY CRYING FOR CENSORSHIP
    MOMMY WHERE IS THE MODERATOR?
    DEERP HEERP

  • ||

    My balls never dropped.

  • ||

    At least get my email address right when impersonating me.
    Kids nowadays, I tell ya...

  • ||

    You're talking about his birth, right?

  • Tim||

    If you actually bothered to make a argument people might not consider you a troll.

    I'll admit though that Decepticon was quite hilarious.

  • ||

    Crayon just lost it a bit, not that he ever had it, but I exposed him on his first post posing as Constitutu. crayon is my Biiattcchh.

  • crayon||

    I'll have sex with you later, Mom. I'm kind of busy right now.

  • ||

    The genius of government regulation is that it impedes the efficiency of the market and causes greater than necessary cost, increasing expense to the consumer. Now THAT is fuckin' awesome.

  • smartass sob||

    The genius of government regulation is that it screws things up, so that they require ever more government regulation.

  • Barack Obama||

    That's how I plan on doing things.

  • Suki||

    Almost forgot. Good morning everybody!

  • jk||

    Since it is now a "right", how will costs ever be contained? If there is no price affixed to my health care other than premiums, what incentive is there for me to go with a lower priced alternative other than government mandated rationing?

    When the time comes when heath care is rationed, is Harry Reid going to tell the children of the alzheimer or cancer patient that restricting the level of treatment is also a fundamental right that patient has?

    How about price transparency, tort reform and allowing people to buy insurance across state lines? Couldn't we try common sense ideas before throwing the baby out with the bath water? I know, silly free market ideas. Not in the statist, progressive, socialist (circle all that apply) tradition.

  • ||

    Ben Franklin used state money to fund a hospital, so there's a tradition of government health care in the US.

  • Paul||

    No, there's a tradition of the State funding hospitals or the facilities that provide *some* healthcare.

  • Morris Preview||

    You're all just a bunch of libertard right-wing racist nitwits blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

  • LibAnCap||

    Funny stuff.

  • ||

    The Chad preview only contains the "blah blah blah blah blah blah blah."

  • ||

    All criticism of libertarian thought is trolling, because libertarian thought is flawless and pure as driven snow.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    No, but setting up strawmen is a common tactic for trolls. Hmmmmm.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Nice cut'n'paste job, crayon.

  • ||

    Constitutu-Look on the liberal websites if you want to see real hate for anyone who dares to disagree. Why? Because liberal thought is flawless and pure as driven snow. lol

  • Tim||

    You didn't make a criticism, you just threw out a snarky statement devoid of any argument about why government health care is superior to free market health care.

    Hence you got the caliber of responses you deserve. Try making an argument without calling libertarians greedy, heartless, stupid, or childish and then you might get a rational debate.

  • Don't mention mermaids||

    Constitutu,"because libertarian THOUGHT is flawless and pure as driven snow." Come on.

  • LibAnCap||

    I really liked the article. It reminds me of Stefan Molyneux's argument against health care being a right.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/molyneux9.html

    Not quite as detailed but very good.

  • smartass sob||

    A "right to health care?" What Reid and Obama really believe in is a right to steal. But what else would one expect from socialists - they're all a bunch of liars, beggars and thieves.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Harry Reid did really quite eloquently state his reasons for being a socialist. I guess the phrase isn't really meaningless after all.

  • JohnD||

    I support the right to kick Harry Reids ass.

  • LibAnCap||

    Second that motion.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Excellent article by Sullum, by the way.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Reid said the legislation “acknowledges, finally, that health care is a fundamental right—a human right—and not just a privilege for the most fortunate.”

    Medical treatment is neither a right nor a privilege - it is a commodity like any other.

    People who engage in freedom of contract and purchase commodities with their own money - a store of value that they have themselves created by their own efforts are not being "privileged" in doing so.

  • Skid Marx||

    You just don't get how envy works.

  • ||

    The issue, really, is the immaturity of the average American. When I hear the words "I have a right to health care" I can only think of one of my children telling me that they deserve dessert.

    As Chad/Tony/MNG will be along shortly to demonstrate, they, just like children, do not really care about rationality. A child simply wants. They don't care from where it comes. They have no vision for consequences.

    When my son was born there were complications and I qualified for a piss load of welfare. I laughed at the suggestion. Will my son being calling all of the taxpayers "dad"? Thanks, but I will remain my own.

    What kind of man does not take care of his own? Even worse, what kind of creature would steal a person's very humanity to feel better about himself? Is there anything more vile than turning a human being into a dependent? Sheeple to be cared for by the "good shepards"?

  • JK||

    I'm convinced that liberals never mature past adolescence.

    They want freedom from responsibility.
    They want freedom from choice.
    They want equal outcomes regardless of ability.
    They want things simply because those things exist.
    They want freedom from consequence.

    And they are running our government.

  • ||

    This is nice, 5 sentences on the money...

  • ||

    I'm convinced libertarians never mature from their cocoon of selfishness.

    They want freedom from helping others.
    They believe all authority figures are good unless they are called "the government."
    They believe the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are infallible, but amendments are bad.
    They believe that taxation is theft, but charging rent is not.
    They believe that price gouging is awesome!

  • JK||

    "They want freedom from helping others."
    We want the freedom to choose who we help, rather than being forced to help people because someone says so.

    "They believe all authority figures are good unless they are called 'the government.'"
    We believe in freedom of choice and voluntary association, as opposed to being forced to do things by people empowered by government.

    "They believe the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are infallible, but amendments are bad."
    I don't know where you got that one.
    We believe in negative liberty, not positive rights.

    "They believe that taxation is theft, but charging rent is not."
    Well, duh!

    "They believe that price gouging is awesome!"
    The price system works. Supply and demand. Ever heard of it?

  • Liberal Douchbag||

    I think it's pretty clear you're all just racists who hate poor people. And you probably kick endangered species for fun.

  • kinnath||

    Equal opportunity is not a guarantee of equal outcome . . .

    Equal rights are not a guarantee of equal opportunity . . .

  • ||

    Well said kinnath

  • smartass sob||

    Selfishness? Try existing without a self - it can't be done. Those who decry selfishness are those who want others not to exist.

  • A. Bierce||

    Selfishness: lack of regard for the selfishness of others.

  • Draco||

    +1

    Bierce, good to know I'm not alone in sensing the logical absurdity of calling other people selfish because they won't give you all of the goodies you want (or -- of course! -- the goodies you want the deserving poor to have -- not for yourself! never!)

  • Captain Selfish||

    I get the term selfish thrown at me almost exclusively when I refuse to inconvenience
    myself to give the thrower THEIR way.

  • Call a Whaaabulance||

    Captain Selfish, didn't like to share his toys in kindergarten and now doesn't like to share_________fill in the blank.

  • Tim||

    You prove my point, nice caricature; but still devoid of facts.

    You are the equivalent of the right winger who claims that people who oppose the war on terror or support things like gay marriage, drug legalization, and legal pornography as wanting terrorists to live and Americans to die after having lots of gay sex while smoking pot and looking at porn.

    You confuse opposition to the means of securing things like national security, law and order, charity and personal morality with opposition to the desire for them; as that is what is required to build up your strawman caricatures of your opponents so you inferior intellect isn't strained to defend your fallacious arguments.

  • Wish I thought of that||

    "wanting terrorists to live and Americans to die after having lots of gay sex while smoking pot and looking at porn." Sounds like PLAN B.

  • creech||

    And yet they still call us libertarians "greedy."

  • JK||

    Greed is wanting to keep what you have.

    They just want to take what is not theirs.

  • ||

    For all the folks who claim healthcare a commodity - you should be bankrupt by one of your children contracting an illness for which the insurance companies deny benefits or cap benefits- then when you bury your child - you can put on his grave: "He Should've Lived, But He had No Right To..."

  • Boys will be boys||

    Warpublican, the opinions of most of the boys on this site are of just that, of children. It is safe to say most of them are not married, have no children, lack community involvement, do not have any religious affiliation and are experts on Star Trek, Dungeons & dragons and can play a mean Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. They do have redeeming qualities in that I am wickedly entertained when I annoy them and it helps me with my writer's block .

  • smartass sob||

    Fuck your writer's block, honey. What makes you think everyone here is a male or even a young male?

  • boys will be boys||

    smartass sob, well let's start with you because you write with such eloquent and cosmopolitan flowery language: "Fuck your writer's block, honey." I am pretty damn sure you are a boy.

  • JimboQ||

    We "lack community involvement?"
    Stop it, please! You really got us on that zinger.

    Next you'll be saying we don't recycle and leave the lights on when we leave a room...

  • boys will be boys||

    JimboQ, wow that was the sentence you found deleterious. Now get back to your Star Trek marathon. You are in for a real treat because they found a lost episode about a bunch of boys who want to live in a society that cares only for themselves and they all (you won't believe this part) know how to play Dungeons & dragons

  • smartass sob||

    then when you bury your child - you can put on his grave: "He Should've Lived, But He had No Right To..."

    Well he certainly had no right to at the cost of enslaving others.

  • All The Animals In The World||

    Reid said the legislation “acknowledges, finally, that health care is a fundamental right—a human right—and not just a privilege for the most fortunate.”

    Fuck you, Harry Reid!

  • anarch||

    Elegantly presented.

    An additional problem with mandating brother's-keeper legislation is the restriction of available-because-legitimatized kinds of healthcare modalities.

    As with homogenous and denatured government schooling for which all must pay and from which, directly or indirectly, all must suffer, universalizing medicine eliminates options to engage treatments that don't (yet) meet official sanction: Joe Patient may no longer spend his confiscated money on, say, chiropractic, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, yoga, homeopathy, or anything else outside a bureaucratically imposed Standard of Practice subject to government and corporate dictation.

    Crunchy libertarians would rather be left alone (with our resources) to make our own health choices.

  • JK||

    The fundamental purpose of government is justice.
    Justice involves reacting to the initiation of force or fraud.
    Someone hurts you, steals from you, breaks a contract, harms your property, then you go to the government for justice.

    But what happens when the government is the one committing force and fraud in the name of fairness?
    Where do we go for justice?

    You can have one or the other, but not both.

  • Brett L||

    Mmm. I think your view is shared by the people you oppose as well. For them, justice involves take from the able to give to the needy. God help us if the government is dispensing "justice". Perhaps it should stick to just maintaing roads, enforcing contracts, and prosecuting criminals regularly enough that legal businesses don't have to pay protection and blood feuds don't run for generations.

  • JK||

    This is because they confuse justice with fairness.

    Taking from the able to give to the needy makes things fair. Everyone now has the same amount of stuff.

    But what of the able who had something taken from him? Isn't he a victim of injustice? And where is he to go for justice if that injustice was inflicted by the government?

  • mr simple||

    As I constantly tell my progressive friends, fair is only properly defined in baseball. Other than that it is completely subjective and undefinable.

  • anonymous||

    Justice and fairness are similar -- both mean people get what they deserve. Both are different from equality.

  • Untermensch||

    This is the first time I've seen anyone point out in print (or on screen) the key point that the Anglo-Saxon conception of rights that informed or nation is fundamentally at odds with the use many people have for the word. It also explains why John Mackey was the victim of a drive-by from those on the left: his statement that health care is not a right is the one that everyone I knew on the left objected to. Had he toed the line and said "health care is a right" and said he was trying to find ways to deliver that right, he wouldn't have been attacked so viciously. I'd try to point out to my liberal friends that health care isn't a right, as rights are defined in our legal framework, and not one, not one, of them has ever had a clue what I was saying. Some would look at me like I was nuts and say something like "well, I can respect libertarians for standing up for their principles, but this is more important than that.” Of course this response simply shows that they don't understand what that principle is or why it matters.

    I've concluded that the majority of the U.S. population has no clue what rights are and why they must be protected. The understand the rights listed in the Constitution as positive rights, and once you do that, the Constitution has little meaning. After all, if the rights to life and the [pursuit of] happiness (with the "pursuit of" bit omitted) that we espoused in the Declaration of Independence are understood as positive rights, then the right to liberty must be subsumed and things like the "right" to health care can emerge to keep us alive and happy.

    I really don't know how to argue for any conception of liberty with people who either don't know what they should have learned in a basic civics class or, if they do, either don't care or actively oppose it in their desire to "do good" with other people's treasure and labor.

    Perhaps the only case I've seen where some get it is with civil liberties, where at least some get the idea that the right to freedom of speech trumps the privilege of not being offended, but few seem to want to make that into a general principle or understand why such a principle might matter.

    More and more I'm convinced that most people don't care about liberty as long as they can have an easy chair and a large-screen TV and the cops bust down somebody else's door, not their own.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Ted S.||

    I really don't know how to argue for any conception of liberty with people who either don't know what they should have learned in a basic civics class or, if they do, either don't care or actively oppose it in their desire to "do good" with other people's treasure and labor.


    Tell them you have the right to keep 98% of the fruits of your labor (pick any percentage sufficiently close to 100%) and tell them that this right means you have the right not to pay more than 2% of your income in taxes. Watch their little heads asplode. Why is that any less of a right than the "right" to health care?

    Tell them that you (well, actually the owner) have the right to allow people to smoke in your place of business. Any time somebody talks about the "right" to avoid smoke at a restaurant, I tell them they're really looking for the "right" to boss other people around and tell them what to do with their property.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Why is that any less of a right than the "right" to health care?

    Are you serious?

  • Jeff Perren||

    Try this gambit.

    If anything people need to sustain well being is a "right" then the Feds should establish a National Bureau of Prostitution and coerce every hot babe to donate 50% of her time to servicing the lonely guys (and gals!, let's not be sexist) to servicing that need.

    Watch the deer in the headlights look, followed by an explosion of outrage. Then observe how they can't find a flaw in the suggestion.

  • brotherben||

    Yes because being taxed for the medical care of others is exactly the same as government mandated rape.

  • anonymous||

    So you support sexual inequality.

  • ||

    Inequality? Those lonely guys should feel equal to guys who can get it for free. Right?

  • smartass sob||

    Hey, your body or your money...or your life.

  • ||

    It's not rape if the government mandates it. Right? I mean it's not theft if the government mandates doctors provide medical care to everyone, even if they compensate them in some way, just like the NBP would compensate those women for their "service."

  • Tim||

    Well people arguing for fairness often have to dredge up some moral principle; so one can as a means to argue in favor of liberty point out that forcing people to engage in charity is little different than forcing homosexuals into the closet. All that is different is the personal morality attempted to be legislated.

  • I DECLARE||

    "I'd try to point out to my liberal friends that health care isn't a right, as rights are defined in our legal framework, and not one, not one, of them has ever had a clue what I was saying. Some would look at me like I was nuts" Do you ever think it is interesting that the rest of the world have civilized with the concept of health care as a right?

  • Sudden||

    Examples of logical fallacies: appeals to popularity.

    That which is popular is not necessarily correct. Slavery was once practiced all throughout the world, would that make slavery a fundamental "right"?

  • i DECLARE||

    Sudden,"logical fallacies" How quaint. Slavery never benefitted the slave, neither does racism, murder, oppression and the list goes on of evil practiced around the world. Love,food,shelter and yes healthcare are fundamental rights and they are correct. I know that his concept is not popular to Libertarians but what is correct is not necessarily popular.

  • smartass sob||

    Correct? By what standard? What happens to such "fundamental rights" if there is no one to provide them? You want to scream to the universe that you have a "right" to love, food, shelter, health care, or any of the other necessities of life? Let me know if you get an answer back. You don't have a claim on me or anyone else.

  • i DECLARE||

    smartass sob,you really are the trifecta of my posts tonight. Here is the score: I am not one of the have-nots who is crying out to the universe but I do help those who are with my taxes, my time and treasure. I don't consider it a claim when I give money, food and time but I do consider myself to be lucky to be able to help.

  • ||

    "Love,food,shelter and yes healthcare are fundamental rights and they are correct."

    Love is a fundamental right?? What? Do you see the problem with those four examples? Two of them are actual physically accessible materials. The other two are vague concepts who real counterpart varies in the mind of person to person. It isn't a constant concept, unlike food and shelter.

    Besides, wouldn't saving more people via healthcare (provided it does what it is touted to do) contribute to the problem of overpopulation? And remember, the more people on the planet, the more of the planet's resources must be used just on a daily basis.

  • I declare||

    Ilpalazzo,"The other two are vague concepts who real counterpart varies in the mind of person to person." Spoken like a boy. "Besides, wouldn't saving more people via healthcare...contribute to the problem of overpopulation?" Spoken like Ebenezer Scrooge. "the more people on the planet, the more of the planet's resources must be used just on a daily basis." Spoken like a man who has never left his village. We live in a vast world and I have observed only part of it and I can tell you love is concrete, overpopulation can be solved with economic justice and this world has plenty of undiscovered technology to find vast resources.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Healthcare is NOT a right.

  • Rog||

    I can never understand these declarations of rights to services that must be provided by others. I admit to being incapable of following the logic at all. If health care is a right then what happens if there are not enough medical staff to provide that right? Will doctors and nurses be forced by law to work more hours until everyone's 'right' is provided for? What if there simply are not enough medical professionals ? Will the smartest children be forced into medical studies until there are sufficient numbers? Otherwise if some people receive their right and some don't then it obviously isn't really a right. I may simply be too old to grasp such concepts as rights that require someone else to be a slave. Only young children who have not learned to think beyond the immediate ramifications of their utterances could be forgiven such inanity.

  • JK||

    To understand this you must first ignore all possible unintended consequences and focus strictly on intention.
    Only intentions matter.
    So when someone mentions any consequences you can accuse them of opposing the intentions.

    Yes, it is very childish.
    Progressives are proof that while growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

  • Jeff Perren||

    "So when someone mentions any consequences you can accuse them of opposing the intentions."

    Sadly, I have seen that same approach from more than one libertarian anarchist.

  • JK||

    For example?

  • Jeff Perren||

    Commenters on fora, such as SOLO. No one you're likely to have heard of.

  • Harry Reid||

    Rog, other than your final sentence, you get it.

  • Draco||

    Here's how I try to make sense of their thinking Rog.

    They think the right to health care is, in essence, contextual. In the context of a "wealthy society" we all should have the right to health care. And to food, shelter, etc.

    If you ask "what about on a desert island or in caveman times?" they'll just say "don't be ridiculous."

    I sometimes call it Viking morality: "look at those hard working rich folks over there, all that plentiful harvest and all those lovely girls. Let's go get us some of that." Note that "going Viking" doesn't work so well when the folks in the neighboring land are poor, brutish, and ugly. It comes down to "because you have it, and we can take it from you -- that's why it's right."

    This was the Soviet Union, of course. What's not realized (until it's too late) is that all incentive to produce wealth evaporates when there are Communists (or Vikings) just around the corner.

  • ||

    I'm confused.

    If I refuse to exercise my right to free speech, that isn't followed by a fine from the IRS or potential jail time at the point of a gun by the federal government.

    With this new super-benevolent "right" the Democrats are "bestowing" on the nation, why do I face fines and jail if I fail to exercise it?

    Is this what normally happens with Constitutional rights? This one seems a bit different, for some reason.

    Probably because it isn't really a right - it's an order.

    But what would I know - I'm just a stupid Nazi racist Brooks Brothers Political terrorist un-American hatemonger killbot or something. Along with 60%+ of my fellow stupid Nazi racist Brooks Brothers Political terrorist un-American hatemonger killbots.

    Merry Christmas, all!

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Good point!

  • Obama, Lord of Liars||

    You will avail yourself of this right to health care and health insurance. That is an order.

  • ||

    The Hirst case shows exactly where liberals want the US to go. They have a sick obsession with equality. Overall welfare improvments are only desirable if they can be spread equally, which is another way of saying that improvements in overall welfare shouldn't happen.

  • JohnD||

    What do you expect? They are all Marxist.

  • Obama, Lord of Liars||

    Nah. They just want to be French - Egality, you know.

  • MNG||

    I know, like those sick fucks who advocated that "all men are created equal."

  • hurly buehrle||

    Equality before the law =/= "I have the right to take something you have because you have it and I don't".

  • ||

    Well then we should all be equally nourished, clothed, and housed, right?

  • WDIK||

    All men are created equal. That does not mean all men will have the same outcomes in their life. Some men will prosper some will not.

  • ||

    MNG|12.23.09 @ 9:47AM|#
    "I know, like those sick fucks who advocated that "all men are created equal."

    Ah, yes, the literalist approach. Tell, us MNG, what bills you'd like passed to equalize heights?
    Or, how about appearance? Do we need a government panel to decide on "proper" appearance and then hang funny noses on those deemed "too attractive"?

  • Tim||

    Seriously, someone needs to redistribute me a girlfriend. Tiger Woods has had enough!

  • Don't mention mermaids||

    Tim, good luck with that. Try not acting greedy, heartless, stupid, or childish and then you might get a girlfriend.

  • smartass sob||

    Egality or egalitarianism has come to mean in modern parlance that all men should be made equal - not that they are created equal. Besides - men are not created equal except in the sense that they are equally human beings.

  • Repub in TX||

    Hi John,

    I have to disagree here. The Dems are in no way interested in equality. They merely use the argument for equality for all as a means to an end, namely power and control. If the true end game were equality, wouldn't we all be subject to the same health care plan? And since we all know this is not the case, equality under the law is not the true end game.

  • anonymous||

    I'm going to start a campaign for Kidney Equality. It's absolutely sick that some poor children have sit on dialysis waiting for death while millions of greedy people walk around with two functional kidneys. Who's with me?

  • .||

    Children, hell! I think it's sick that some poor, obese, middle-aged slobs have to sit around on dialysis waiting for death while millions of greedy children run around with two functional kidneys. No one needs more than one. It's a commonly accepted fact - the science is settled.

  • ||

    Yeah - equality - so over rated - never mind that in America it can be plainly demonstrated that a lot of the "aquired" wealth was done so by laws that protected certain groups at the expense of others - or a legal system that enforced poverty on one group while allowing another a free reign. But fairness and equality don't actually mean either - it means I get to keep what I've got - no matter how I got it - no matter who i cheated and no matter that I probably don't deserve it. Because on the other side of the coin, we also find that reparations to those who were cheated is an affront to liverty as well... nice system you've gamed... one day, when it's all taken away from you, don't expect to much sympathy...

  • .||

    Would you care to cite some specific examples or would you rather just whine? BTW, regarding "reparations" when are you going to make reparations for what your ancestors did to mine? Hell, yours probably ate mine for dinner.

  • Kryton||

    I have a right to a yacht. GIVE ME ONE!

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Sorry. The yacht's just a privilege for the most fortunate.

  • Kryton||

    Weren't you paying attention? I have a right to the yacht!

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    I'll believe it when I hear Harry Reid say it.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Besides, if you gave everyone yacht, the quality of the yachts would ohhhhhhh...

  • Harry Reid||

    Kryton has a right to the yacht.

    Quit whining and hand it over.

  • Kryton||

    No brother, we ALL have a right to a yacht! I don't know if 7 billion yachts exist or not, but such materialistic concerns as "do the goods exist or not" have never slowed Marxists down in the past.

  • ||

    I have the right to be a lazy SOB who does nothing, except for once in a while I get to make decisions that fucks up almost everyones lives, but has no effect on me whatsoever. And I want to get paid lots of money for this. I have a right to be a liberal senator!

  • smartass sob||

    No. No. No. Nobody can have a yacht until everybody can have one...except for Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Obama, etc.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    And I have a right to my jet plane!

  • Attorney||

    What they really mean is "you have a right to the same healthcare as everybody else gets." So everyone has to wait in line for the same six-month period to get an MRI. Problem solved!

  • JK||

    Not everyone. Members of government and their families will be exempt from this.
    That way they can be unencumbered by the consequences of their decisions.

  • Proletariat||

    How do I get a gig like that?

  • ||

    More like they have to wait in line for 15 years before MRI machines are even available ... assuming any inventor wants to bother inventing one in this brave new world.

  • ||

    A good point. But they are way ahead on this game. They didn't need healthcare reform(lol) to accomplish this, they have had AGW for the last decade, wasting billions of dollars on research that could have been spent on medical research, possibly resulting in new technology that could cure diseases like cancer that have killed millions. All of this because they care so much to save the planet, and the polar bears, to hell with the people. I wonder just how many millions the liberal dems have killed with this non-sense in the last decade? Surely that pales in comparison to how many will die prematurely because of their future foolishness.

  • ||

    >They have a sick obsession with equality.

    Equality of outcomes, that is.

    Which is impossible by definition. A person born without arms is going to have a tough time making the NFL, for example.

    His "right to equality," therefore, is somehow being violated.

    In other words, these people don't even know (or care) what the nature or definition of a 'right' actually is.

  • Harry Reid||

    A person born without arms is going to have a tough time making the NFL

    Not after Health Reform!

  • Joel||

    We can't be equal until everyone is born without arms!

  • Obama, Lord of Liars||

    Nah, we'll just cut everyone's arms off. We also have a plan to equalize everyone who was born without a dick, too.

  • Tim||

    ...and the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, ax, and saw.

  • josey||

    People always misunderstand me when I say 'Rush is right.'

  • Tim||

    Just to note, there are two of us here.

  • Zenmaster||

    I love their music!

  • bobbitized by lorrainna||

    Obama, Lord of Liars,"We also have a plan to equalize everyone who was born without a dick, too".Or with one

  • Obama, Lord of Liars||

    Same difference. Everyone will be dickless...chicks,guys - everyone. Except myself, of course.

  • bobbitized by lorrainna||

    Obama, Lord of Liars, "Except myself, of course." I guess Lord you have a little issue with leading by example.

  • Ted S.||

    Which is impossible by definition. A person born without arms is going to have a tough time making the NFL, for example.


    He can be a referee. After all, they've already got blind referees.

  • Brett L||

    Harrison Bergeron is apparently now read as prescriptive rather than satirical literature.

  • Harrison Bergeron||

    What?

  • ed||

    The "right" to good health is a philosophical error shared by both Democrats and Republicans. All along this tortuous debate, the GOP has argued (rightly) that further government intrusion into private medicine will either bankrupt the nation or diminish the quality of available health care (or, more probably, both). But to my knowledge, not one of them has had the courage to defy the Democrats' altruist claim that we are our brothers' keepers. They can't, because they believe it themselves. They are defeated by their own code of morality. They are powerless to answer the Democrats with anything other than impotent fiscal objections, which makes them hypocrites as well as eunuchs.

  • ||

    No one is ever willing to admit that sometimes bad things happen and there is no good sollution.

  • HC butterfly effect||

    John, and no Libertarian thinks that that sometimes good things happen and it is because of good public healthcare solutions .

  • smartass sob||

    Excellent point.

  • ||

    well said

  • Draco||

    Case in point Ed: the other night on Fox News Business Channel, there was the (delectable) Rebbecca Diamond talking with frequent Fox contributor Monica Crowley (PhD) about health care reform, and Rebbecca raised the question of whether health care was really a "right." Monica couldn't bring herself to say it wasn't. She dodged and weaved, and changed the subject. She proceeded to attack the proposed legislation. But she would not go on record saying that health care is not a right.

  • ed||

    Not only will they not say it, but the journalists who actually bother to ask are few and far between. They are a mirror to society at large, however. Hasn't every Christian, Jew and Muslim, since birth, been told by his holy men that he is his brother's keeper? It takes courage to defy society's treasured myths.

  • deluded1||

    no. Cain said to god in response to a query of his location after a rock met his head, and Cain said "What am I, my brother's keeper?"

    It's really sick satire, when put in context

  • smartass sob||

    Not satire,but sarcasm.

  • chemman||

    As a Christian I am called to help others in need. That is my calling. I am not called to coerce others to do likewise.

  • Tim||

    Actually, Christians do see themselves as their brothers' keepers. They don't see the government as their brothers' keeper. It is not philosophically contradictory to believe that I have an individual obligation to assist others and yet not support a collective one. This is their error in thinking: that our individual morals must be enforced collectively. This is precisely the opposite of the founding thought that the minority must be protected from the majority.

  • wackyjack||

    The worst part is that pushing a collective obligation on a legislative level has crowded out the individual obligation (and underlying social pressure that makes it work).

  • ed||

    Good point, Tim. I have no objection whatsoever to private, voluntary charity. But our overlords have taken it a step further. If it's a moral imperative, they say, to help those "less fortunate," why not make it a legal one as well?

  • Tim||

    I don't know if the Republicans really buy healthcare as a right, they are just too big of cowards to say otherwise. For example, to do so would most certainly imply a need to strike down Medicare for non poor seniors; and arguably a need to remove it entirely, depending upon whether or not one might believe that a social safety net could be a public good.

  • hurly buehrle||

    I don't have time to dig up the link, but George Reisman's piece on the real right to medical care (i.e., the right to pay for the care you want) is a great one. It's on his blog somewhere.

  • smartass sob||

    Reid said the legislation “acknowledges, finally, that health care is a fundamental right—a human right—and not just a privilege for the most fortunate.”

    Rights serve as a framework for one's dealings with other people - without the prescence of others the concept is meaningless. What good would such a right be if one were alone on a deserted island? What Reid (and Obama) are saying is that one may demand, as one's due, actual physical goods and services if in the society of other people. Logically, since they can only be provided by others, this means that it is okay to use force to obtain them - ie., to violate the rights of others by stealing from them or enslaving them. Either that or others have no right to keep their goods and services - the fruits of their time and labor...their lives. There can be no such thing as the right to violate rights. Reid's belief boils down to the cliche that might makes right - that the rights of some take precedence over the rights of others. It's the unspoken belief of every scammer, thief, thug, pillager, and slaver who ever lived.

  • ||

    excellent point

    the right to violate other people's rights is exactly what so-called social justice is and exactly what Obama wants

  • Draco||

    +1 (and see Viking morality above -- I posted that before I read this)

  • Harry Reid||

    If I refuse to exercise my right to free speech, that isn't followed by a fine from the IRS or potential jail time at the point of a gun by the federal government.

    Nancy, some blogger just gave me a great idea ...

  • Harry Reid||

    If I'm capable of medical school, but don't go, am I violating your right to healthcare I could have provided, but don't? If I hold a stock that is going up (humor me) instead of selling it now and paying cap gains tax, am I violating your right to healthcare?

    Nancy, I'm serious. Check out "Hit and Run." I believe the kids would call it aweful.

  • Harry Reid||

    I'm going to start a campaign for Kidney Equality. It's absolutely sick that some poor children have sit on dialysis waiting for death while millions of greedy people walk around with two functional kidneys.

    Nancy, one more example from this treasure trove. Have to go now. Looking forward to "getting down and dirty" with you after tomorrow's shoo-in.

  • Tim||

    Now that is something that even a libertarian could say deserves censorship.

  • .||

    No, not as long as they do it in the privacy of their own septic tank.

  • ||

    http://insciences.org/article.php?article_id=8012

    This is interesting.

  • Al Gore||

    "Cosmic rays" my ass!

  • Silver Surfer||

    That's what I'm saying!

  • Rich||

    Tell them you have the right to keep 98% of the fruits of your labor .... Watch their little heads asplode.

    I am *so* going to do this at Christmas dinner.

    I have a right to more turkey, after all.

  • JK||

    Any right provided by the government is something that the government can take away.

  • Rich||

    What about the right to not have the government take rights away?

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Rich, you win the internets.

  • Rich||

    Shucks, thanks, but I was inspired by the classic "If God is all powerful, can he make a rock so big He can't pick it up?"

  • .||

    God can't, Obama can.

  • ||

    Dear Kryton:

    You do, as you quite correctly say, have a right to a yacht; in principle. However, the Ministry of Plenty's current Five Year Plan is focused on your right to a tractor hoe.

    Be patient.

    Or else.

  • Kryton||

    I'll take those hoes with me when I get my yacht!

  • Kryton||

    Don't worry, I've always got a double entendre handy.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    If I'm capable of medical school, but don't go, am I violating your right to healthcare I could have provided, but don't? If I hold a stock that is going up (humor me) instead of selling it now and paying cap gains tax, am I violating your right to healthcare?

    OK, so I'm violating your right to healthcare by not giving you $$ (or my time if I'm a Dr). If I don't exist, then I'm not giving you healthcare $$. Therefore, by not existing, I'm violating your rights. Compare that to the right of free speech. If I don't exist, I CAN'T violate your right to free speech, but I cannot avoid violating your right to healthcare by not existing.

  • ||

    No need to worry about all of this, soon the government will answer all of these tough questions for you. Isn't life good in Socialtopia?

  • ||

    The whole point of this health care exercise is NOT about health care. Health care is the curtain behind which the true machination is hidden.

    Americans spend trillions of dollars on health care each year, voluntarily.

    Our elected representatives want all of that money to be filtered through their hands, with the side benefit of a captive voting block comprised of every American citizen. ("Vote for the Democratic candidate, because the Republican wants to take away your health care!" That's what we'll hear in every election to come)

    Social security and medicare were the same shell game - the taxes collected for those programs were supposed to have been set aside in a "lock box", where the funds were supposed to grow as they do in a private investment, and the profits used to pay future obligations. Only that never actually happened. All funds collected were put back into the general fund, and each year's contribution has been spent each year by congress and the senate on unrelated projects and pork. That is why the two have over 100 trillion in unfunded obligations today.

    The same thing will happen to health care.

    Health care is not a right, health care is property, belonging to health care providers, which is bartered by the owners to people who want that commodity, via private contracts. As such, this health care bill is an extension of the ongoing erosion of private property rights.

    Health insurance is a private contract between insurers and the insured, negotiated to the satisfaction of both parties. This health care bill takes away the power of negotiation. The government will determine for you what your contract will say, and how it will be fulfilled. And, it will determine how and when you can exercise that contract. For the insurance companies, they will be ordered to enter a contract, regardless of whether it amounts to a net loss for them.

    This social cancer started with the welfare system, where people were insulated from the results of bad life choices (choosing to bear children they couldn't afford, choosing not to work, etc.), and extends that to health insurance (choosing an unhealthy lifestyle, choosing to spend money on big screen televisions, oversized houses, cars they couldn't afford, rather than spending money on health insurance to protect themselves from the financial burden of a catastrophic illness)

    And once in place this new legislation will be impossible to undo, short of a second revolution.

  • smartass sob||

    Excellent. Very well said.

  • HC butterfly effect||

    MystWlker,This social cancer started with the welfare system, where CHILDREN,THE ELDERLY,THE DISABLED were insulated from the results of GENETICS (choosing to BE BORN, choosing TO BE TOO YOUNG,TOO OLD TOO DISABLED TO work, etc.), and extends that to health insurance (choosing an unhealthy DNA, choosing to spend money on PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, rather than spending money on FOOD.

  • smartass sob||

    Since when does anyone get to choose their DNA, unhealthy or otherwise?

  • HC butterfly effect||

    smartass, seriously. I think you to better on the boys will be boys thread. I will let you know when you can graduate to parody.

  • Jeff Perren||

    "And once in place this new legislation will be impossible to undo, short of a second revolution."

    So, let's get to it.

  • MNG||

    You guys are so bright, you know what a right is and noone else does.

    So, what is a right? Tell us unenlightened souls. This question should be easy, right?

  • ||

    I think they already did tell you. Did you not read the responses?

    let me make it easy and clear. A right does not infringe on anyone else (health care infringes on health professionals). A right does not need the cooperation of another (cooperation by definition requires 2 or more to participate). A right does not impose penalties if not exercised. My right does not diminish your right.

    Health care fails on all counts.

  • ||

    Thank you. It won't convince MNG but it's a cogent explanation.

  • MNG||

    Dude, did you just "define" rights in purely negative terms?

    Hahahahaha!

  • MNG||

    I can do this with ponies. What is a pony? A pony is not an octopus. A pony is not a human. A pony is not a reptile.

    Have I told you wtf a pony is?

  • ||

    MNG, we really don't care if you do it with ponies, it's kinda sick in most peoples opinion, but it is 'your right'. But, please, don't do it in front of the children.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Hey, man, it isn't libertarians who are inventing new rights.

  • Brett L||

    In the US rights are mostly based on the Lockean tradition of life, liberty, and property as outlined in the 2nd Treatise on Govt. These (and the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights) more traditional rights are "negative rights" in that they define areas in which a person's action may not be limited by any person or entity (including the government) without due process. That's how I define a right.

    To claim a positive right -- in which some other agent must act for your due to be given you -- is antithetical to the view of rights expounded in the Declaration of Independence ("that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights").

  • MNG||

    You define a right as a negative right. That begs the question since we are debating whether there are positive rights.

  • T||

    That begs the question since we are debating whether there are positive rights.

    No, we're not debating. You're making an ass of yourself yet again because this has been explained literally dozens, if not hundreds, of times to you already. There are no positive rights. Why do you keep bringing this up? Are you functionally retarded? Do you think your response of "neener, neener, neener, are too positive rights" is going to convince anyone around here? You're not usually this bad, but on this topic you're working your way down the intelligence scale until you're almost at Chad or Tony level.

  • OMG||

    A positive right necessarily involves a taking from someone else. I defy you to provide an example that does not.

    Positive rights are BS, they are theft through government means.

  • Tim||

    We all have an ownership right to our own bodies, and by extension we own our labor which we trade for property we may choose to consume or accumulate. Further, this concept of ownership implies that we are free to do what we choose up until the point where our actions violate the ownership rights of others via force or fraud.

    The idea of a positive right fundamentally contradicts self ownership because when someone else claims a right to, say, healthcare, he violates the right of self ownership by confiscating a man's labor or property.

    Now, many classical liberals have argued that there are times when such violations may be useful or justified; such as the idea that markets couldn't provide for the police and that the state is allowed to charge for police services from which citizens benefit. Usually combined with an argument about consent, and as such it can reasonably be argued that in the instances of services such as the police and military we could achieve near universal consent from fully informed people who don't suffer from a free rider problem; in other words people would consent to such a government and therefore coercion is justified to fund a more of less night watchman state. Such arguments are bolstered by a limited and decentralized government, which narrows the scope of the alleged agreement making it more believable, allows for the greatest degree of self government, and allows easy exit for those who do not consent.

    Basically one builds up a utilitarian argument about how individuals are better off with government to imply they would consent to it, and restrict government to the scope and level that best comports to such an argument. Such consent applies to the form and/or constitution of government, and we cannot say that just because the Democrats won a throw the bums out/historic election that we all now consented to one particular form of health reform that is blatantly unconstitutional and outside any moral conception of the extent of government.

    Such arguments can be extended to public goods besides the police and military, and many classical liberals did so; while others vehemently disagreed. I personally view some kind of social safety net as being a public good, and charity as being socially desirable; but I do not feel in any way that others are entitled to it. Such services are provided because they benefit all of society and out of individual altruism respectively. For the public goods case to work, one has to argue how even those paying the taxes for the social safety net benefit.

    The problem with positive rights is that they seem to be a kind of short cut taken by their advocates around making the case about how voluntary exchange via markets and charity can't provide a certain good or service, whether or not government can improve on the current suboptimal situation, and thus whether or not people would consent to doing so. So that even if those who want the government to do something utterly fail to convince others of the advantages of government doing it, we have to let government do it anyways because it's a right and government exists to protect human rights; and the argument relies on those with zero understanding of political philosophy buying into a theory that contradicts self ownership.

    That doesn't mean that some form of government could never provide some level of health care to some people, but it does mean that no one is entitled to health care and the only justification for having government get involved requires an argument how government can provide health care better leaving the entire society better off.

    Personally I find the idea that government can manage health care better than markets laughable, but would admit that it could be useful to provide some basic care to the poor provided the care is restricted to only the poor accomplished in a manner that doesn't encourage dependency; preferably at the local or state level.

  • Resident of Whooville ||

    Tim, "but would admit that it could be useful to provide some basic care to the poor" Be careful, like the Grinch your heart might start to grow.

  • .||

    Shut the fuck up, Morris.

  • Resident of Whooville||

    Poor kitty cat but then again I don't like him either. So "Shut the fuck up, Morris."

  • Tim||

    Great job moron, just because I don't unquestioningly support the government socializing medicine I don't have a heart? It is possible to help people without using government.

    Useful refers to the idea that we still have to prove whether or not government provided health care would actually be an improvement for people, and that is something that you assinine liberals can't infer from intent.

    Instead, you douchebags just like to claim that anyone who disagrees with whatever government program you feel is necessary must oppose the intent of helping poor people rather than question the program's effectiveness; hence you are an ignorant or dishonest progressive hack. Unable to make a convincing argument, you have to attack the character of the person.

  • AKA cant keep track||

    "don't unquestioningly support the government socializing medicine I don't have a heart?" (see my other thread) Tiny Tim, you do have a temper. Merry Christmas!

  • ||

    what a desperate comment

  • ||

    You guys are so bright, you know what a right is and noone else does.

    So, what is a right? Tell us unenlightened souls. This question should be easy, right?

    This kind of thing is stunning to me. You're in a thread, with a detailed article up top, that already thoroughly answers this.

    You might disagree with the reasoning, you may have some essential objection to the starting premise, etc. But to just barrel in, elbowing past everybody to get to the comment box so you can scribble the first thing that popped in your head ... it's oafish and rude.

    This is a libertarian site. You spend a lot of time here. You already know what the answer to your "question" is, or you should. Claiming ignorance about basic libertarian premises is either exceedingly dishonest or astoundingly stupid.

  • MNG||

    Tom
    I know what libertarians here will say. I also know it will make no sense and is indefensible so they are really in no better position than Reid, whom they are willing to dump on. Ergo my post.

  • ||

    How about this:
    A right is a means of resolving disputes over resources or actions.

    Saying someone has a "right" to a particular resource, such as healthcare, means that someone must provide that resource.

    Since two people cannot use the same resoruce simultensouly (it is physically impossible for the same object to be in two places at once), that means someone else does NOT have a right to it, whether that means the provider, or some other individual who must pay.

    However, if some other individual MUST pay to provide you with that resource, that means that that individual does not have the right to control the product of his own labor.

    Now, if you want to make the argument (as Chad does), that human beings are the "property of society", whose labor can be disposed of as "society" pleases, then go ahead. I just want it to be fully clear what exactly is implied by the argument that people have a "right" to healthcare.

  • OMG||

    Why don't you tell us what isn't a right! As someone advocating the expansion of the definition of what is a "right" I would assume that the burden lies on you

  • josey||

    Do you really want to get into this?

    There is, though you won't find many libertarians who recognize it, no such thing as a right. What I mean by that is that, as with many other ideologies, libertarians tend to accept and use the concept of rights on the basis of dogma, without any rigorous examination of what they mean.

    The trouble is: this assumes the existence of an external objective truth. Though Rand et al. attempt furiously to establish such a framework, this is, strictly speaking, always destined to be nothing more than an exercise in circular logic. The founders thoughts on the issue notwithstanding, rights do not exist as some magical thing you are given by God, Ayn, or anyone else. An evidence of this may be found in the answer to the following question: if your so-called 'rights' have been removed, how can you claim ever to have held them? You cannot, and you have just received a brutal introduction to the fact that what you considered to be a concrete thing was in fact, nothing but a useful abstraction; in the end, there is only eventuality. As such, we must first recognize that the concept of rights primarily aims to serve the purpose of ensuring that our eventualities are as acceptable to us as possible.

    The abstraction of rights, in the negative sense, is not complex; it deals primarily with establishing a linguistic symbology which may be used to delineate the difference between what comprises you, what comprises me, and how it is that we ought to relate to one another. As such, one may claim to have 'right' to be free from the aggression of others. The main argument supporting this contention is simply that it requires no action at all on the part of another, in the positive sense - for others to observe this right, they must only abstain from undertaking certain offensive actions. This is the classical liberal position, in a nutshell; live and let live - it costs one nothing to observe another's 'rights' under this regime.

    The definition of rights used to support legislation such as that currently in question, however, relies on the entirely different, and in fact, antithetical, concept of so-called 'positive rights'. The fundamental difference between the negative and positive variety may clearly seen in the following two statements: the negative, 'I have a right from x', and the positive, 'I have a right to x'. That is to say, contrary to the negative variety, the position of positive rights implies and requires, with respect to the holder of said rights, positive action on the part other unspecified parties. Interestingly, it is only in the case of positive rights that the absence of other parties may cause the claimant to endure what he regards, by means of his very conception of rights, to be an injury.

    Here it becomes necessary to make an important observation: where positive action is undertaken on a purely voluntary basis, there is, in fact, no discussion to be had with regards to rights as defined above; neither for the holder of a negative right, nor for the holder of a positive one. Indeed, we see here that the heart of the discussion is not concerned with so-called 'rights' at all, but with the distinction between voluntary and coerced action. It is clearly seen here that so-called 'positive' rights are nothing other than a disingenuous misuse of terminology; their actual object is not concerned with defining which positive actions between actors are to be considered permissible, but in defining which positive actions which are to be made compulsory. This is understandable from a political point of view, since it is much more palatable to a voter to be told that he is the holder of a 'positive' right to a certain thing than it is to tell him that to obtain it he must forcefully seize it from another, whether personally, or by the action of a third party. Put in those terms, he may reject the idea out of hand, simply on the basis that he would not prefer to be subject to such seizures himself.

    When we leave dogmatic adherence to ill-defined concepts behind, we finally come to the place where we understand that the discussion is wholly utilitarian in nature: it is concerned with the subjective determination as to which solution is the more expedient: voluntary action or coerced action. Choose your side as you wish, but do not decieve yourself, by means of semantics, into thinking that the question is anything other than this.

    Of course, I do not mean to be offensive in speaking to you as though you are a child, but it is you who put yourself into that position with what I assume was an entirely disingenuous and rhetorical question.

  • Sudden||

    Excellent write-up, with the exception of the first and second paragraphs. I think the concept of natural rights is fairly simple to follow and its logic ironclad. Simply because, absent sufficient protections for these rights, such rights can be violated, does not make them any less a right.

    I think, and will incorporate into further discussions I have w people concerning positive/negative rights, that your point with regard to a positive right cannot exist in the absence of another to compel to fulfill it is succinct and very apt as to crushing the very notion of positive rights. A negative right exists in isolation from the mere fact of the human condition, a positive right requires others to exist (and be productive enough to fulfill) in order to achieve/guarantee it.

  • James C. Bennett||

    A right is a way to define an action that a non-tyranical government cannot take, because a government that takes that action is tyrany. For example:

    Freedom of speech is a right, because a government that takes action to restrict its citizens' ability to speak freely is tyrany.

    Health care is a right, because a government that takes action to prevent its citizens from obtaining whatever health care is available to them is tyrany.

    Socialized medecine is a violation of the right to health care, because it necesitates that the government take action to ration health care, thereby preventing those who could have otherwised afforded it from obtaining that care.

    A free market does not violate the right to health care, because it does not necessitate that the government take any action.

  • smartass sob||

    What is a right? Morally a right is a condition or course of action that is morally sanctioned. Politically it is a course of action that is legally recognized and protected in its exercise from the attempts of others, especially the government, to interfere by means of force.

  • MNG||

    Most libertarians support a police force.

    If you have the right to compel a third party to protect you from physical attack or fraud, why not a right to compel a third party to protect you from illness?

  • smartass sob||

    You don't have a right to compell a third party to protect you from attack. Where in hell did you come up with that idea?

  • MNG||

    Really? WTF do police do? Iirc they are supposed to intervene if A is attacked by B.

    Further, they are funded, even in most Libertopias, thusly: A is compelled to provide funds for cop B and cop B is to protect everyone, including third party C.

  • JK||

    Police do not prevent crime, they respond to and investigate it.

    Police and the courts serve one of the few legitimate functions of government, and that is to allow people to seek justice when their life, liberty or property has been harmed through initiation of force or fraud.

    Unfortunately the proponents of positive rights have turned the government into the initiator of force and fraud, and the concept of justice has been lost in a cacophony of "I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT".

  • MNG||

    No shit. I don't expect a right to health care to "prevent illness" totally either. I expect someone will respond to and treat it.

    Check btw.

  • JK||

    First you say "why not a right to compel a third party to protect you from illness?"

    Then you say "I don't expect a right to health care to 'prevent illness' totally either."

    You have succeeded in convincing me that you have no idea of what you are talking about.

    Thanks. I will waste no more time with you.

  • MNG||

    I know, I know JK, you can't articulate a sensible, defensible idea of rights. And it upsets you because you base so much of your worldview on the concept, and you just don't really know what it is, so you want to run away and cry. You're not the first!

  • MNG||

    Police and the courts serve one of the few legitimate functions of government, and that is to allow people to seek justice when their life, liberty or property has been harmed through initiation of force or fraud.

    Nice question begging! Of course, I think some government program can allow people to seek justice, happiness and life by addressing their illness when they fall ill. And I think that's legitimate.

    So there!

  • RM||

    Nobody has violated any of their rights by forcing them to fall ill.

    The government doesn't intervene. End of story.

  • ||

    Compel? Surely you don't have a Ph.D and not understand the meaning of the word "compel".

    Oh, I have read some of your posts, you probably do not.

  • smartass sob||

    But you cannot force people to become cops...not even in "Libertopia." Besides, the courts have already determined that the police have no duty to protect you.

  • MNG||

    Of course. Is anyone proposing we force people to become doctors and nurses?

  • smartass sob||

    How else can you guarantee a right to health care? Or do you simply wish to guarantee a right to whatever health care happens to exist? In other words, you aren't interested in the production of values, but only in the distribution of values, as you see fit. No one can have anything unless everyone gets some. Does that pretty much sum up your position?

  • chemman||

    SCOTUS has made at least two rulings on the functions of the Police. Both rulings hold that they are not their to protect you but to solve crimes after the fact. That police professionals still intervene is to their credit since they don't have to.

  • George41||

    Definition of a right: Rights are inherent. If you are stuck on a desert island, you still have the right to freedom of speech or freedom of religious views, but you don’t have a right to healthcare. Or food. Or water. Or police protection.

    These other things are nice to have, and a well managed society can provide them, but they’re not rights. Declaring resources to be “rights” just encourages their mismanagement and waste.

  • MNG||

    Huh? A right is anything that is inherent? That's nonsensical, I hope you can elaborate.

  • George41||

    “Inherent” means nobody has to come and GIVE it to you.

  • MNG||

    Biologically inherent?

    And again, so a right is anything that, what, is inherent to a human being?

    See, not so simple, is it?

  • George41||

    Inherent to just existing as a human. This is a philosophical, not a scientific question, so biology doesn’t play a role here.

  • MNG||

    What? So a right is anything inherent to just existing as a human?

    The interrubes tell me that inherent means "existing in someone or something as a natural and inseparable quality."

    Do I have a right to sleep? Because falling asleep is a natural and inseparable quality of humans. So is farting and defecating, and erections I should imagine...

    Saying a right is anything "inherent to human existence" is silly.

  • George41||

    You have a right to TRY and do all these things. You have a right to try and fall asleep. That’s inherent, and exists as long as some external force does not take it away. But nature can decide to give you insomnia, so you don’t technically have a right to sleep.

  • ||

    Considering there is no one forcing you to do any of those things, yes, you have a right to jack of to Obama's picture.

    You really don't understand the difference between choosing when to sleep, take a shit, ect and being told by someone else when/if/how you may? It is called Freedom, asswipe, and just as I have a right to sleep whenever I fucking choose, I also have the right to keep what I earn when I don't sleep but work instead. In no instance does this effect your right to do the same things. Not once do I make a demand upon you for my rights.

  • WDIK||

    The answer to all of your questions is yes. It's your life and your body and you have the right to do all of those things, what's your point? Has anybody anywhere ever tried to say other wise?

  • brotherben||

    Philosophies vary. So what we choose to believe plays a role.

  • MNG||

    BB, I agree that the concept of rights is one that is highly variable amongst reasonable persons.

    In fact, you might say my point rests on it! I'm calling out all those people above who were essentially saying "these fools like Reid don't even know what a right is or what it entails!" So I said "neither do you much."

  • kinnath||

    I do have a right to expect protection "from" illness; and I expect the state has the authority to quarrantine individuals that carry highly-infectious, deadly diseases.

    But that's not what you meant was it?

  • MNG||

    Oh kinnath, ya got me!

    Wait a minute, you only got the liberal in your head. Which ain't me.

    Yeah, I can easily imagine situations in which the government should do what you say...

  • kinnath||

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

    So yes, I absolutelty believe that there is a legitimate reason to use the power of the state to resolve conflicts between free individuals actively exercising their rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

    But please note, the pursuit of happiness is far different than the achievement of happiness, health, and well-being.

  • MNG||

    No doubt. I don't imagine having something to address people's illnesses will make all illnesses go away or make everyone happy. I do think it will promote the pursuit of happiness (hard to pursue when you are very sick).

  • kinnath||

    You have a right to persue happiness, but you have no legitimate expectation that other people should be required to help you in your pursuit.

    The progressive mindset turns the "expectation" that other people are morally obligated to help you when your down into a "right" to demand the state force other people to help you when you are down.

  • MNG||

    So you're agains the police? Because I think it's a good idea to have them and expect them to do certain things to help me in my pursuit of happiness.

  • kinnath||

    So yes, I absolutely believe that there is a legitimate reason to use the power of the state to resolve conflicts between free individuals actively exercising their rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

    Don't be a dickhead, I know you're capable of reading standard English -- having a terminal degree and all.

  • MNG||

    See, you're for the police to be paid by third parties to foster the pursuit of happiness.

    I'm for health programs to be paid by third parties to foster the pursuit of happiness.

  • kinnath||

    It's the trinity dude -- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    I said the police should step in when two individuals come into conflict when exercising their rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

    So, if I'm carrying TB, you have a legitimate expectation that the state will protect you from me.

    But if you've got TB, you have no legitimate expectation that the state will take money out of the wallets of other people to pay for your treatment.

    So when you repeatedly state that taxes to support third-party health care are equivalent to taxes to support a third-party police force, you are either being dishonest or dense. Since you got that terminal degree, I'm going to go with dishonest.

  • Tim||

    Great job MNG, you've pointed out the contradiction inherent in miniarchists who use anarchist reasoning to support their minimal state.

    The reason we have a government run and provided police force is due to the fact that there are various problems with letting individuals or groups run around enforcing laws on their own.

    There are no similar substantial problems with healthcare that would justify the kinds of programs desired by the progressives here and in other countries; the only possible issue is the idea that there might be a public good to everyone having a basic level of care, and to that extent I'm not necessarily opposed to some form of assistance in purchasing healthcare for the poor.

    However, neither police protection nor health care is a right; both are services. Government provides police services because it is better at protecting property than individuals and private companies, and were it to get involved in health care it would supplement private charity because by doing so it could account for various market imperfections in the market for charity and by doing so leave all of society better off.

    I wrote at length above, and I've given you two serious responses; so please don't troll and be cute, address the issues.

  • Libertarian dictionary||

    various market imperfections = various market imperfections = Libertarian semantics for rationalizing letting people drop dead cause they don't want to share.

  • Tim||

    You're a fucking dishonest retard, just because someone doesn't use government to help others to the extent you desire them to doesn't mean they want others die.

  • AKA cant keep track||

    I swear you are the most entertaining libertarian that I joust with. I regularly argue with you on 3 threads at once. Helps me a ton working on my novel! You do say the most profound things at times that I actually think of you fondly. Merry Christmas!

  • LibAnCap||

    Actually I am against the police. All police forces derive their income from aggression (taxes) and thus violates the central axiom of libertarianism.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ MNG that is the stupist fucking analogy I have ever heard. First, there isn't a "right" to a police force. A police force is a good idea, but there isn't a right to effective policing. There is certainly a right to be treated fairly if there is a police force. But nothing says that we have to have a police force. Indeed, there is a long history of people policing themselves via voluntary police forces.

  • MNG||

    John
    In Libertopia are there police? If there are, and the police are supposed to intervent to protect people from attacks and frauds, and they are paid with tax money, then I fail to see what is wrong with the analogy. What liberals envision is this: just like people should have a police to respond to physical attack and fraud, they should have something to respond when they fall ill. You can use "right" or "deserve" or "should" whatever makes you happy imo.

  • ||

    MNG,

    Good policy is different than a right. Police are a good idea. A good idea is different than a right. It is a simple distinction. You see it. You are just being disingenuous as usual.

  • MNG||

    OK John, health policy is a good idea.

    Feel better?

    I'm not wedded to the rights language, you guys are.

  • ||

    Then you admit it, healthcare is not a "right". You just conceded the argument. Thanks.

  • MNG||

    I don't think so, bsaically, to the extent rights make sense health care can be one.

  • ||

    If healthcare is a "right", then I am entitled to as much as I want regardless of my own behavior or resources. Further, I am entitled to it and cannot be deprived of it without due process of law. That means I essentially get a full and fair hearing for every decision the govenrment or my insurance company makes on whether to pay for any healthcare I may desire.

    That is nonsense and you know it.

  • Tim||

    Yes he's pointed it out! He's not wedded to the language, as he says that rights are a good idea; thus by claiming something is a right he avoids having to make an argument it is a good idea by tricking others into inferring as much from the statement.

    Rights are derived from self ownership, whereas sometimes people consider it a good idea to surrender some of those rights in exchange for a greater protection of other rights and/or more material prosperity.

    However, by "not being wedded to the language" he can distort it to whatever is useful to get his way; avoiding serious debate by relying on the idea government exists to provide rights in case whatever argument he has that claiming government health care is a good idea. It's circular reasoning, either out of dishonesty or ignorance.

  • Brian Trust||

    "Most libertarians support a police force.

    If you have the right to compel a third party to protect you from physical attack or fraud, why not a right to compel a third party to protect you from illness?"

    I didn't realize police officers were conscripted into service. Find me a policeman who was compelled to become a police officer.

  • MNG||

    Look, if it makes you feel better, in Libertopia we pay police to protect third parties to protect them from attack and fraud. Liberals say, why not pay doctors and nurses to treat third parties to protec them from the ravages of sickness?

  • Brian Trust||

    Then should we also pay carpenters and plumbers to protect third parties from the ravages of homelessness?

    Should we pay prostitutes to protect third parties from the ravages of a lack of nookie?

  • ||

    The police force that we support the existence of is totally voluntary on the part of the individual who decides to become a member of that police force. They are not compelled by anything but their own free will to take the job and voluntarily enforce the law. No one forces them to become a police officer, and no one tries to collect a fine from them or intrude on their freedom in any way if they decide to not become a police officer. MNG, I once thought that at least you were more intelligent than crayon, but now I am really starting to wonder. Your only objective seems to be to come here and try to attack Libertarians with anything, no matter how lame, that pops out of your keyboard.

  • ||

    Police forces prevent other humans from violating your rights, not forces of nature.

    Rights only make sense in the context of human actions.

    A hurricane doesn't violate your rights by commiting vandalism.
    Cancer doesn't violate your rights by trying to kill you.

  • James C. Bennett||

    Because illness has no agency.

    The government has a duty to take action to protect its citizens from people who take action to endanger those citizens' lives or property, because, fundamentally, that is why the citizens allow the government to exist.

    Illness is not a "person who takes action"--an agent--so the government has no duty to protect you from it. If we were to assign that duty to the government (which, in the case of the U.S.A. would require amending the constitution), the government would have to perform that duty in such a manner that it did not violate any citizen's right to health care, as explained above, or else be tyrany.

  • smartass sob||

    The government has a duty to take action to protect its citizens from people who take action to endanger those citizens' lives or property, because, fundamentally, that is why the citizens allow the government to exist.

    Exactly. Government is an agent of force. The only justification for its existence is the prevention of the use of force by others through the retaliatory use of force.

  • Jennifer||

    Wouldn't a "right to health care" imply -- at the very least -- a "right to decide for myself whether or not I need pain medication, rather than have that decision made for me by a doctor overseen by a criminal justice major working for the DEA?"

    I'm still miffed about the time a few years ago when I had a wisdom tooth come in wrong, and had to wait a few days before finding a dentist to yank the damn thing out. Over-the-counter pain meds were NOT sufficient to make the pain go away, and I couldn't get a prescription for something stronger without seeing the aforementioned dentist, so I -- a woman who had neither committed nor been convicted of any crime -- was effectively required by law to suffer agonizing pain for a few days.

    I do not claim a right to demand anyone give me free pain meds, but I do believe I have the right -- which my government has stolen from me -- to exchange some of the dollars in my pocket for pain meds sold by a willing seller, without having several levels of government gatekeepers standing between me and that.

  • MNG||

    "Wouldn't a "right to health care" imply -- at the very least -- a "right to decide for myself whether or not I need pain medication, rather than have that decision made for me by a doctor overseen by a criminal justice major working for the DEA?"

    I wholeheartedly agree. One of the reasons I subscribe to Reason is for Sullum's excellent articles criticizing the DEA's tyrannical role in this area.

  • .||

    Please don't feed the monkeys.

  • MNG||

    I think as a historical matter Sullum is correct: for most of America's history rights were thought of as mostly negative things (well, by most people who had policymaking power). I think that vision was seen to fail the basic test of ethics (does it promote actual human welfare) during the Great Depression. People had all these "rights" and everyone was starving and homeless, so I think our nation underwent a great re-thinking of what "rights" are. And FDR explained the conclusion this nation came to in his favorite speech about positive freedoms. And since then that's how America has thought about rights. So Reid, while crafting some seriously stupid legislation I'll admit, is not guilty of radically reconstructing how most American's think of a right.

  • Chad||

    I agree.

    Libertarians simply refuse to acknowledge that not all rights are negative. It clouds their thinking so much that they run off into the most ridiculous extremes of sacrificing huge positive rights for trivial negative ones, making them look like morons to the average voter. This is precisely why they will always remain the lunatic fringe.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Citation needed, Chad.

  • Libertarian dictionary||

    The Art-P.O.G.,citation given

    Libertarians : the lunatic fringe or morons

  • ||

    All rights are positive. "I can" are the operative words. Those that require a clause (e.g. "with your, his, her") are not rights. They are impositions.

  • ||

    "I think that vision was seen to fail the basic test of ethics (does it promote actual human welfare) during the Great Depression. People had all these 'rights' and everyone was starving and homeless, so I think our nation underwent a great re-thinking of what 'rights' are."

    Hmm ... so this "vision" failed the "ethics" test. Why is that? Is it because the Depression showed there are consequences for foolish actions? And what did FDRs policies actually do? They PROLONGED the misery. Yes, that's the model we ought to be following. Then, just as now, those who were making all these wonderful policies didn't understand the root causes of the problems they were solving, and the end result was that they made things worse.

  • ||

    A right is something that any person is entitled to. What are these positive rights? Housing? Do I have a right to a house if I refuse to work or pay rent?

  • MNG||

    What do you mean "entitled to?" I imagine you mean "has a right to" and that is called a circular argument. Round and round she goes!

  • ||

    If it is a right, you are entitled to it regardless of other circumstances. I have a right to equal protection under the law. My behavior or resources in no way effect my entitlement to such protection. If I have a right to housing in the same way, then I get housing even if I am a bum who refuses to work or pay for it.

    You are normally not this dense. You are just lying. You have gone from being the house liberal to just being a troll.

  • ||

    He is rapidly becoming crayonII

  • ||

    The problem is that these "positive" rights fundamentally conflict with the pre-existing negative ones, and with eachother.

    If A has a right to healthcare, and B has a right to housing, but there is not enough money to provide for both, who resolves the dispute? They both have a "right" so some third party must be forced to cough up the sum, again and again and again.

    Now, the third party doesn't have a "right" not to be forced to provide welfare for others. (As Chad would argue, he belongs to his community, and his community can make him do whatever it wants, because it owns him).

    Now, aside for the moral implications of all that, let's look at the practical results. The third party is no longer profiting from his own labor. So what does he do? He stops producing the resources needed to provides A's healthcare and B's house.

    Now, nobody is producing all the stuff that A and B have a "right" to.

    So what do you do? Whip C into obedience? Force him to work to provide those things? Labor camps?

    And what if there still isn't enough shit to go around? Seize the property from all the private landholders, nationalize the industries?

    No? You have a rationing system in mind? How to you ensure that resources are rationed fairly? Votes? Because "democracy" always results in a "fair" outcome? Because voting on whether other people get healthcare is so morally superior to leaving it up to the market?

  • Tim||

    Unless government violated the negative rights of free exchange by seizing control of and mis-managing the money supply and imposing tariffs creating the poverty in the first place that people supposedly have a positive right to be free from.

    I'm not sure what free market forces Chad will find to blame the Great Depression on, but I'm sure he will find some.

  • ||

    In the hierarchy of needs, wouldn't food/water come first? And wouldn't shelter come next? Health care would probably be third and maybe a job would be fourth. So....if health care is a "right", then certainly food/shelter would be "rights" as well. If that's the case we're into full-blown communism, or at least very aggressive state socialism. And this is indeed what the Left wants; total govt power and control of basically ALL of the money. The govt will then dole the wealth back out with an eyedropper as they see fit.

  • Chad||

    In case you hadn't noticed, we DO provide food, water and shelter to those who cannot obtain it themselves, through a variety of systems.

  • ||

    And it just works SO well. That's why people just love housing projects and food stamps. Yes, let's do the same for medical care!

  • MNG||

    Actually, it has. Human suffering in the US now is far lower than in 1959 when the poverty rate for, say, blacks was 55%.

  • ||

    And the economy had nothing to do with that. Those poor black people would still be in poverty if it wasn't for generous white people like you.

  • MNG||

    They'd still be in poverty without vigorously enforced anti-discrimination laws and having their basic needs addressed, yes.

    Because there was an "economy" in 1958 and before, and yet they were in poverty at much greater rates...

  • ||

    So what? Just because something is a good idea or a good program doesn't make it a "right". Even if you buy into the liberal fantasy that poverty can only be decreased through the government mandated generosity of the superior white man, that just makes those policies a good idea. It in no way makes their existence a "right". Rights are something that you do at the expense of everything else. Yeah, we had those programs because we could afford them. But, if we hadn't been able to afford them, we wouldn't have done them. That makes them priorities not rights.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Interesting. I wonder what changes in particular affected the mean poverty level from the time my dad was born until now.

  • ||

    ART,

    MNG lies his ass off about this. He takes the 1959 poverty rate and compares it to today and says "see how much welfare reduced poverty". What he fails to mention is that poverty came down on its own clear throught he 1950s and right up to the mid 1960s without the Great Society. It then leveled off in the early 1970s and stayed around 12% despite trillions of dollars in expanded welfare programs.

    Liberals like MNG cannot believe that poor or especially minorities could ever improve their lot on their own. It just can't happen. Those kinds of people in MNG's view are incapable of self improvement. They only succeed after the intervention of enlightened superior beings such as himself.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Oh, I'm inclined to agree with you, John. I mentioned my father's birthdate for a reason. Great Society programs were not a significant economic influence on my family in any way I can perceive.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    John,
    One thing the Democrats of today have in common with the Democrats of the 1850's is the belief that the welfare of the black race is "the white man's burden."

    Slavery and welfare, both, diminish the spirit and rights of all human beings. This is true for both those being given the "free" health care and those who are forced to pay for the welfare of others. George Orwell wrote of his experience as a local administrator in colonial India. He realized that colonization diminished the humanity of both those being colonized and those who were colonizing others.

    Unfortunately, a liberal troll like mng cannot grasp the concept of rights. This in turn affects his understanding of what it is to be human, and how both slave and master are injured by the nature of that relationship.

  • ||

    I dispute that. They aren't out of poverty because of anti-discrimination laws so much as rapid economic development. That would have happened with or without anti-discrimination laws.

  • Tim||

    At least with African Americans, a restitution case could be made for past rights violated; although to prove that the effects of welfare policy actually improved the lives of African Americans, you would have to distinguish them from the effects of rising generally prosperity combined with the end of Jim Crow allowing them to take part in that prosperity for the first time in U.S. history.

  • smartass sob||

    ...although to prove that the effects of welfare policy actually improved the lives of African Americans, you would have to distinguish them from the effects of rising generally prosperity combined with the end of Jim Crow allowing them to take part in that prosperity for the first time in U.S. history.

    Jim Crow never prevented all African- Americans from partaking in prosperity; it may be a little-known fact, but there have been wealthy African-American families in this country from at least the time of the Revolution. For the most part they have always kept a low profile.

  • ||

    Don't worry, if the socialist can retain power, then the poverty rate for everyone will be 55%, that will be more fair and everything will be great! Viva Socialatopia!

  • ||

    We also provide those things to people who CAN obtain it but choose not to since they know it will be given to them for free. This is the beginning of the problem. If everyone has a right to everything, first food, water, then free health care, then free housing, do you not think it is inevitable that eventually the result of this is that not many people will be willing to work for things that they know they can obtain for free? Then where can the money be stolen from to pay for free things for those no longer producing anything? This is the eventual collapse of socialism, always has been, always will be. There is no other possible outcome.

  • smartass sob||

    It is amazing to me how many hungry people we discovered in the 1980s when we started advertizing free food for the hungry.

  • WDIK||

    In case YOU hadn't noticed it we do provide "Health Care" or Medical Treatment to those who cannot afford it through a variety of systems.

  • ||

    If you have the right to compel a third party to protect you from physical attack or fraud, why not a right to compel a third party to protect you from illness?

    Good grief.

  • MNG||

    Elaborate Charlie Brown?

    See, this is how it is with "rights." Everyone is "supposed" to just "know" what they are. They're, well, you know, er, "self-evident." They're, uh, "inherent." "God gives them" or something.

    Anyone relying on the concepts of "rights" really should not condescend to anyone else in telling them what they are or are not imo...I've yet to meet someone who can give me even a half-ass sensible idea as to wtf they are or what principle defines their limits.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Yes, there is debate, but Reid's conception seems to put him in the socialist camp. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on the observer's philosophies and biases.

  • Tim||

    Rights are derived from self ownership, which is self evident by the fact that people can think for themselves, move for themselves etc. It's not that tough.

  • A Physician||

    If people have a right to compel me to protect them from illness, I think my malpractice insurance premiums just went up to infinity.

  • ||

    If I have a right to health care, doesn't that mean that anyone who refuses to give me health care is violating my rights? Regardless of whether I (or anyone else) pays for it?

    I think as a historical matter Sullum is correct: for most of America's history rights were thought of as mostly negative things (well, by most people who had policymaking power). I think that vision was seen to fail the basic test of ethics (does it promote actual human welfare) during the Great Depression.

    The problem with positive rights to goods and services, MNG, is that there is no limiting principle. If I have a right to healthcare/food/housing/etc., where do you draw the line? At what principled point do you draw the line?

    And don't throw out some argle-bargle about "basic" food/housing/healthcare, because "basic" is an undefined and indefinable term in this context.

    How do you say in a principled way that my right to any of these things does not extend to whatever the wealthiest can obtain?

  • MNG||

    RC, I've only seen rather arbitrary ways of limiting rights to negative rights too...Let's start there. Why are rights limited to negative things? And are they (see my police example above)?

  • ||

    Because negative rights do not conflict with eachother.

    Positive right conflict both with negative rights, and eachother. You could only have positive rights in a world of unlimited resources. Otherwise, two people's "right" to healthcare will come into conflict, and you don't have a dispute resolution mechanism to deal with it.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Why does The Chosen One refer to negative rights as a negative thing?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Not all slopes are slippery.

  • ||

    Silly argument, Mr. Sullum. For a number of reasons.

    First, the distinction between positive and negative rights breaks down when you realize that negative rights--to be effectively enforced--require that people support (through taxation and compliance with authority) a government strong enough to guarantee those "negative rights."

    Second, no rights are absolute. The right to life can be justifiably infringed by a compulsory military draft. Freedom of worship does not give you the right to practice human sacrifice. Freedom of speech does not entail the right to incite acts of violence, sedition, or treason. In short, for every right there is a range of restricting or limiting conditions. Hence, it is no argument against the existence of a right to health care that such a right could not be guaranteed by a poor society or a society without the necessary technology. Rights come into play in precisely those situations in which they can be effectively enforced.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Er, wrong.
    Next.

  • smartass sob||

    The right to life can be justifiably infringed by a compulsory military draft.

    BULLSHIT! There is nothing justifiable about it. Compulsory military service is simple slavery...regardless of the sophistry of the Supreme Court.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    "The right to life can be justifiably infringed by a compulsory military draft."

    No, not even close.

  • LibAnCap||

    Just because there is not a police officer standing at every corner ensuring negative rights are not violated doesn't make your argument any more valid. What do you define as effectively enforced?

    The right to life can never justifiably be infringed. The draft goes against the basic axiom of libertarianism (non-aggression principle).

    Freedom of worship does not justify violating NAP.

    Rights do not have their basis solely on the ability to enforce them. Based on that logic if you were to vacation in Thailand then your right to not get shot is null and void because the police force is dirty or incapable of providing a level of service you have predetermined in your head?

  • ||

    If you have the right to compel a third party to protect you from physical attack or fraud, why not a right to compel a third party to protect you from illness?

    You don't have the right to compel a third party to protect you, you know.

  • MNG||

    See my discussion of the police above. They are not compelled but paid to protect you. And liberals want to see doctors paid to treat people.

  • smartass sob||

    Then let them pay for it with their own money instead of the money they steal from others.

  • MNG||

    So the police should be paid for voluntarily? Taxation for police forces=wrong?

  • smartass sob||

    Morally? Yes. Taxation is theft.

  • ||

    Hey, you figured it out. Gold star for you.

  • ||

    If you are stuck on a desert island,


    "I've got a baaaaaad feeling about this..."

  • Citizen Nothing||

    My bet: Constitu is a regular who is pushing, very effectively, for the death of threaded comments. I hope the ploy succeeds.

  • ||

    Constitu = crayon

  • Neu Mejican||

    Did Paleolithic hunter-gatherers have a right to the “affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care” that the Congressional Progressive Caucus says is a right of “every person”? If so, who was violating that right?

    Without getting into the whole positive vs. negative rights debate, this is just a specious argument.

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

    American tradition has always included positive rights. It has never been a black and white thing, but a matter of emphasis.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Finally, Neu shows up to add a bit of sanity, reason, and bridge-building to the discussion. Where ya been, Neu?

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    If the state hauls you into court, the state has to provide legally. If the state itself injures you, you can make the claim it should provide medically.

    If I sue someone, need a legal document, etc, I have no 'right' to legal care. If the state causes the need, that's different than a general right.

  • smartass sob||

    You are completely changing or ignoring the context. "Rights" in a court of law are a different concept than rights in a society. They are certain conditions that must be met when an individual is placed by the government into a certain set of circumstances.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I think I need you to elaborate a bit. How are the rights in a court of law distinct from the rights in society? If we are talking about the boundaries of government power, why does the government have the right to compel me to appear in your defense when I may have no desire to do so? Why can the government compel a lawyer to provide a service to you against that lawyer's will? Neither I nor the lawyer placed you in the circumstances you find yourself in. How does your situation negate my negative liberty rights? As far as I can tell, the only way that be reconciled is to recognize that, as a member or society, I also have certain responsibilities to other citizens. My responsibilities are defined by the positive rights of others.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    That isn't a positve right in the first place - it is merely a check on the power of government to deprive someone of their negative right of freedom not to be locked up without a valid reason.

  • hurly buehrle||

    In case you hadn't noticed, we DO provide food, water and shelter to those who cannot obtain it themselves, through a variety of systems.

    Exactly. I rent an apartment from a landlord at a price we've agreed to; I pay a utility company to supply me with clean water at a price I agree to pay; and I buy my food from a grocery store at prices I agree to pay. Simple, coercion-free, and everyone gets something they want out of the transactions. Is this one of the "systems" you had in mind?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Although I'll be glad threads lasted long enough for highnumber to retroactively perform his magic on the famous Santorum post.

  • Neu Mejican||

    If we stick to a black and white, only negative rights exist position, we run into trouble quickly when discussing the rights of children.

    Do children have a right to be cared for?

    Do children have a right to education?

  • Black and White||

    Do children have a right to be cared for?

    Define "cared for". They have a right to not be killed or abused or have anything done to them against their will. Beyond that, honestly, no. With respect to things like caring for children, there's a difference between doing something because it conforms with your most deeply held notions of being human, and doing something because someone can claim it against you as a right.

    Do children have a right to education?

    No.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Is it abuse to not feed a child?

  • Brett L||

    Don't confuse laws with rights. We don't prosecute counterfeiting because it violated someone's right to anything. Something can be illegal and immoral without violating a fundamental right.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I was not discussing the law.
    Is it abuse to not feed a child?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Something can be illegal and immoral without violating a fundamental right.

    This is only half correct, imo. If we judge whether something is immoral or not based on how it impacts others. Immorality is, in a sense, defined by acts that violate the rights of others.

  • Brett L||

    It is abuse, it is evil, it does not violate the child's rights.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Let me get this clear, a child has a right not to be abused. It is abuse not to feed them, but it does not violate their rights?

    I must admit I don't follow your logic here.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Of course, Brett L, I realize that Black and White was the one who said children had the right to be free from abuse. I assume you accept his statement above. If not, then we might need to define what rights you think children do have.

    The ancillary question in all of this is...

    Do parents have any responsibilities in regards to their children?

  • Brett L||

    Yes. But rights are about societal protection. They are social contract theory. When we choose to organize a society, what parts of the individual's autonomy may be assumed inviolate unless he violates the contract. Talking about the obligations of parents and children has little bearing on the obligations between a government and its citizens. The whole point of the Declaration of Independence was to refute the idea that citizens owed some filial obligation to the government. Rather, it asserted, the power was inherent in the citizens (not the King!) and therefore rights were those powers retained by individual human beings when they consented to be governed. Rights!=Morals!= Laws.

  • Neu Mejican||

    But when we discuss the rights of children to care or education, we have to consider those rights in absence of the parents. If the child has a right to compel care from the parents (who presumably chose to have children), then do their rights end when the parents die, when the parents shirk that responsibility. Does the state have the right to compel parents to care for the child? To compel someone else to care for the child? (probably via taxes to pay someone to care for the child).

    If we are simply talking about the right to tax so that a government service can be created to provide for those who can't afford healthcare, then the issue of a right to healthcare is a side issue.

    If, however, the justification for that tax is a fundamental right to healthcare, then arguments against the tax have a higher bar to get over.

    In this context, a child's right to be care for is directly analogous. If children have the right to compel society to care for them when their parents won't or can't, then, perhaps, the infirmed (due to illness or injury) have a similar right.

  • Brett L||

    Governments don't have rights. They have powers ceded to them,at least in America, by the consent of the governed. A child does not have a right to compel care from anyone.

    You argue that society has a moral duty to provide children with certain levels of care, and I don't disagree. However, I think this duty can be filled without government intervention by charities and indivduals. I believe that conflating "society ought" and "the government must" leads away from the type of society in which I would prefer to live. Rights. by the definition I've expounded far upthread are those things of which the individual cannot be disposessed no matter how large a majority agrees with the sentiment "society ought" or "the government must".

  • Neu Mejican||

    Of course governments don't have rights. They have powers.

    I disagree, however, about a child's rights. Children, imo, have a right to be cared for. That means that either individual parents (natural or adopted) or society has a responsibility to provide that care. The mechanism by which society provides services when individual members to do not volunteer to provide that service, is taxation of the larger group to pay an individual to take on the task.

    Government is a process society uses to meet its obligations. Your distinction between society ought and government must seems artificial to me. Government is the process by which society meets its obligations.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Ooops. No need to repeat myself there.

  • Brett L||

    Wow. I say this with no sarcasm or snark: It must be really frustrating to hang out here.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Actually, no. It usually isn't. Sure some of the folks around here seem to see discussions as some sort of competition rather than a way to explore a topic and work towards a better understanding, but for the most part I find it far more useful for me to have discussions with those that have different views on a topic than to talk to a bunch of people who agree with me. It forces me to think through my own perspective.

  • T||

    The mechanism by which society provides services when individual members to do not volunteer to provide that service, is taxation of the larger group to pay an individual to take on the task.

    Wrong. It is one of several available mechanisms. It is not a binary choice between the government taxing everyone to do it and no service being provided. Civil society, as many of have argued time and time again, can provide many services through voluntary cooperation without the hammer of the state. The government is not congruent with society, mmkay?

    By your statement above, Goodwill and the Salvation Army shouldn't exist, yet they do.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Dude, Goodwill and the Salvation Army are examples of volunteering. I said that government provides a mechanism for when no one steps up to the plate. Read more carefully.

  • Brett L||

    If I have all the food on a desert island and I refuse to share it with the 4 other adults stranded there and they starve, am I violating their right to life or just being an immoral monster? I think option 2.

    I diffentiate between abuse and neglect. That's probably why we don't agree on the definition of rights.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I also differentiate between abuse and neglect. That is not why we disagree.

    We disagree because you are dissociating rights from morality. And, it seems, not providing for the concept of responsibilities, which I think are entailed by the concept of rights.

  • Neu Mejican||

    For your desert island example.

    I think this highlights an important aspect of rights...they are situational. They adhere not to people, but to ACTS by people. An act is within your rights, or not within your rights. While it is certainly within your rights to horde the food (if you produced it...it is not as clear a call if you just gathered a public resource such as fallen fruit), the follow up question would be, would the other 4 adults be within their rights to use force to take some of that food away from you.

    If that case went to court, I would not want to try and predict how it would be decided, but their right to life would likely be seen as at least a mitigating factor in their actions. It would certainly be possible that your act of hording would not be seen as within your rights in that situation by many many people. The immorality that you already recognize points to the fact that you may be acting outside of your rights, since moral acts are within your rights, while immoral acts are not.

    Without a more complete context, however, things can't be decided. In the abstract, rights are not well defined. They only become defined when attached to acts in context, imho.

  • ||

    Neu, if I decide to have a child, or adopt one, then I have an obligation to care for that child, at least a moral obligation until that child is able to care for their own self. I don't think anyone here would argue against that. There are also laws that obligate me to care for that child. However, I have no responsibility for the existence of, and therefore, no moral obligation to care for the crack whore down the street who chooses to indulge in an unhealthy and risky lifestyle. I should not have to pay for that persons healthcare or anything else. Does that make sense to you?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Hyperion,

    Make sense? Sure.
    But I am not sure it is really what we are talking about.

    In a certain sense, I think the healthcare debate is analogous to the public roadways. One side says that roadways should be privately owned and funded through tolls. The other says that they provide an overall benefit to everyone in the society, and that justifies compulsory taxes on citizens to cover the costs of the benefit.

    Likewise, a functional healthcare infrastructure that provides access to all comers, regardless of ability to pay, benefits the society at large, and can therefore be funded, in part, through taxes. The "rights" claim is just a leg in the overall argument about how/why that infrastructure benefits society as a whole.

  • ||

    I could argue that access to all comers regardless of ability to pay does NOT benefit society at large so therefore would be detrimental if people were taxed to pay for it. There is a societal benefit from people providing for themselves and their families. It means we all work and don't have to compel the government to use force against each other. When government uses force to provide for some that harms others.

  • WDIK||

    No, it's murder.

  • ||

    Again - let's see libertarians run on the position that American children have no right to an education - I'm sure it will go very far...

  • T||

    They have the right to the best education their parents can provide.

  • Brett L||

    If children had rights, how come their parents can arbitrarily limit their right to speech and transport them across state lines against their will?

  • smartass sob||

    Do children have a right to be cared for?

    Morally, yes, they have a right to be cared for - by those who created them.

  • Neu Mejican||

    So, what happens when the parents fail in that responsibility?

    Or, for the more directly applicable example...what rights do orphans have?

  • ||

    The same rights as everyone else.

    Namely, they SHOULD have the right to work and earn a living. Instead we force them to be criminals due to child labor laws. See India.

  • Barack Obama||

    No, children are now MY responsibility, for I am The One Shining Path, Amen.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    No and No.

    That was no trouble at all.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Yes Gilbert, but we all know you are just a shill for Big Neglect and their subsidiary Ignorant Masses.

    ;^)

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Actually YOU don't know anything.

    You are a leftist - a condition that precludes congition of pretty much anything above the level of being potty trained.

    LOL

  • Neu Mejican||

    Being to the left of Gilbert Martin does not make one a leftist. When you look to the right, I am sure you see a very sparse neighborhood.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    And there's something else you know nothing about.

  • Tim||

    Neu, you are confusing something that is socially beneficial; caring for children with a human right.

    Yes you could make the argument that some government health care like some roads may be useful; but that doesn't mean that people are entitled to have others build them for them.

    I'm not a moral relativist, but what conception of morality informs our rights? Christianity? Sharia? Are no one's rights violated when gays are prohibited from marrying, or women driving? Maybe we only have a right to do what is moral, but ultimately morality is un-provable. Self ownership isn't, therefore we can reasonably derive our rights from it; and rely on voluntary action to support moral laws inconsistent with self ownership. Thus we avoid the enforcement of morals which are actually wrong, and preserve the agency required for people to be fully moral beings.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Hey! MNG has shown up, too! Now we can really begin to construct some understanding!

  • Spanky||

    I don't know about you, but I'm sure looking forward to laughing at all the liberal asswipes come next November.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Fuck 'em, Spanky. I'm starting to hope they get everything their tiny little hearts desire.

  • ||

    When they do, they will be just like the whiny 5 year old brat that got that big old bag of sour candy they wanted and then ate the whole bag at once.

  • ||

    The argument that police, fire protection, trash pickup, et al, are equivalent to government run health care is an argument that presents false choices.

    The states provide pilice, fire protection, libraries, roads and infrastructure, and other public projects and services as part of the responsibility of state government, paid for via state taxes. Police are required to keep the peace, uphold laws, pursue lawbeakers, etc. But they don't provide personal protection - they can only act when or after a law is broken. The same with fire protection. Roads, bridges, libraries, are subsidized by state governments to promote education, commerce, and aid in transportation (And the other dirty secret is, our system of highways was put in place partly to facilitate mobility of the U.S. armed forces within the country).

    The federal government is charged by the Constitution to provide for the common defense, and to raise armies for that defense. It is also charged with promoting the general welfare, via creating laws and regulation to regulate commerce with an eye toward promoting free commerce while preventing that commerce from taking advantage of the private citizen.

    The federal government is not charged with taking over companies, ignoring contract law, or depriving the citizens of life, liberty,or their pursuit of happiness, without due process of law (That means that even if they say they need to take your land for a highway, unless they pay you fairly for it, you can take them to court and fight for just compensation)

    Confusion seems to arise form the phrase "promote the general welfare". Many seem to think that phrase means "to provide welfare". The constitution in no way makes the government responsible for ensuring that you *have* anything material. It is responsible for protecting your right to have it. However, you still have to work for it.

    The government is not, and was never intended to be, a parent to it's citizen/children, ensuring they are fed, clothed, housed, handed other people's money, and bailed out of the consequences of the poor choices they freely make.

  • Tim||

    The various states have always had the broad police power to do whatever they want unless prohibited by their own constitutions, later the bill of rights, or if they have an un-republican government.

    The difference between government funding the cops and socialized medicine is that there is good reason to believe private markets can't provide enough good cops, while private markets can provide health care.

  • Pharos||

    "Confusion seems to arise form the phrase "promote the general welfare"."

    I'd describe it more as an act of cynical manipulation than a state of confusion.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I'm trying very hard to become Rothbard's "third" kind of libertarian. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Of course, the concept that healthcare is a right does not materialize out of thin air.

    http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

    See articles 25 & 26

  • ||

    The UN says it, it must be true. Question beg much? Appeal to authority much?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Where did I say "the UN says it, so it must be true?"

  • ||

    Then who cares? The UN says a lot of things. But that doesn't say anything about it being true. A lot of people do think healthcare is a right. But it is possible that they are wrong about that. The mere fact that this idea didn't come from nowhere means nothing.

  • Neu Mejican||

    A lot of people do think healthcare is a right. But it is possible that they are wrong about that.

    Indeed. And it is possible they are correct. Sullum introduced some history on negative rights. I introduced some history on positive rights. If you think more information means nothing in a discussion, well, fine, I guess.

  • ||

    There is absolutely no possibility that they are right if they think they have a right to healthcare AND have a right to force other people to pay for it.

  • ||

    yeah, a document written in the middle of the Communist era. When half the world was socialist. Nice try.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    The U. Fuckin' N.? No way! Ya sold me, Neu.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I am not selling anything.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Yeah. Always much better to just take it.

  • ||

    Prior to the Obama intiative, there was no discussion AT ALL about health care.
    During eight years of the Bush presidency there was NO discussion regarding the spiraling menace of health care "costs."
    Ignoring a problem [like tooth decay] does not work.
    Consider this:
    -The Obama presidency is the first presidency in decades to make any progress at all on this subject.
    -The Obama presidency is the first administration to even have a serious discussion on the subject.
    -This much maligned administration has started a national debate, obtained a starting point, and moved the conversation forward in the face of "just say no" opponents to any action; any conversation at all. These "just say no" opponents would let thousands DIE every year for lack of health care - just so that they get their "way."
    Consider this as well:
    -There are massive "costs to leaving millions uninsured:
    --uninsured workers miss thousands of work days, costing the economy millions;
    --uninsured families end up in emergency rooms, needing ridiculously expensive treatment for "emergency" care CREATED by our inability to figure out how to get them basic treatment for illnesses like the flu;
    --uninsured children do not learn well;
    --uninsured patients who are forced into bankruptcy deprive hospitals/doctors of fees - they have to charge the rest of us to make up the difference.
    --uninsured patients who are forced into bankruptcy no longer pay taxes, lose their savings, lose their dignity - a loss for all of us.

    To all of you on the far right or far left who did not get what you want:
    Be quiet and let the rest of us do something to fix this country.
    You have screamed enough.
    the rest of us have to actually DO something.

    I am so relieved that we have a president who understands that arguing over how to put out a fire for too long leaves you with ashes.

  • ||

    Uh, great, thanks. What does any of that have to do with whether "health care" is or isn't a "right"?

  • Brett L||

    And I am relieved that not everyone thinks throwing gasoline on a fire is the way to extinguish it.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    "These "just say no" opponents would let thousands DIE every year for lack of health care - just so that they get their "way."

    It's amazing that people really believe talking points like this.

  • ||

    Thousands will actually die now because of rationed care. Where are all the bleeding heart liberal who care about that? Millions have likely already died from diseases that may have survived if we would have poured billions into medical research that we instead wasted on so called 'climate change'. Where are the bleeding heat liberals that want to challenge that 'inconvenient truth'?

  • ||

    "Prior to the Obama intiative, there was no discussion AT ALL about health care.
    During eight years of the Bush presidency there was NO discussion regarding the spiraling menace of health care "costs." "
    There has always been discussion to a greater or lesser degree of increasing health care costs. Part of that discussion included the effect of government intrusion into health care and it's effect on driving up costs, as well as frivolous lawsuits, restrictions on what insurance companies can offer, requirements on insurance companies regarding what they *must* offer, etc.

    Nice work though, slipping in a 'blame Bush' line...

    "-The Obama presidency is the first presidency in decades to make any progress at all on this subject."

    Action is not necessarily progress.

    "-The Obama presidency is the first administration to even have a serious discussion on the subject."

    You cannot say that with any intellectual honesty. There has been no debate on this, anyone not in agreement with this government takeover has been shouted down, disregarded, ridiculed, denigrated, and even threatened with prosecution. The legislation was written behind closed (and even LOCKED) doors, usually with only Democrats in attendance. The voice of the people, the majority of whom oppose this plan, has been ignored. Republican amendments offered to any version of the plan have been unilaterally rejected.

    Where exactly has the honest and open debate been?

    "-This much maligned administration has started a national debate, obtained a starting point, and moved the conversation forward in the face of "just say no" opponents to any action; any conversation at all. These "just say no" opponents would let thousands DIE every year for lack of health care - just so that they get their "way." "

    Reference my last point, rather than liberal talking points. Republicans have offered a number of mechanisms to reduce costs without bringing down the whole system (the system 85% of americans say they are satisfied with). "The party of No" is one of those methods described above of closing down real debate and denigration those that oppose the plan.
    By the way, Medicare has a 20% rate of refusing treatment, compared to about 2% for private insurers. So who is it that is letting more people die?

    "-There are massive "costs to leaving millions uninsured:
    --uninsured workers miss thousands of work days, costing the economy millions;

    Uninsured workers more commonly simply work while sick, rather than lose pay and put their jobs at risk. Meanwhile, wasn't it the federal government that mandated to employers that they must grant a certain number of sick days per year to employees....?

    --uninsured families end up in emergency rooms, needing ridiculously expensive treatment for "emergency" care CREATED by our inability to figure out how to get them basic treatment for illnesses like the flu;

    On the argument that we're paying through higher prices for emergency room care for the uninsured, isn't this plan simply transferring that payment from medical costs into taxation so the government can instead pay the same fees? Absolutely no money wil be saved there - more likely we'll pay a bit more, since the government will undoubtedly take a cut of those monies to pay for the bureaucracy required by the new system.

    By the way, there is no real treatment for the flu, you get it, and treat the symptoms until it runs it's course. Seeing a doctor for it won't shorten it's duration by a single hour....and people aren't getting $25,000 of medical care in emergency rooms for a case of the flu.

    "--uninsured children do not learn well"

    ???????? Were you serious.....?

    "--uninsured patients who are forced into bankruptcy deprive hospitals/doctors of fees - they have to charge the rest of us to make up the difference."

    Again, you're just changing who we pay these extra costs to. If we aren't paying them in higher medical costs, the plan will have us paying the government for those higher medical costs. The only difference is we'll be paying every time we pay taxes, instead of if and when we need medical care. It's a shell game.

    "--uninsured patients who are forced into bankruptcy no longer pay taxes, lose their savings, lose their dignity - a loss for all of us."

    It's also a lesson to all of us, to plan for the future and carry insurance instead of buying that plasma TV, or putting $10,000 worth of chrome wheels and tires on our SUV. If people choose to forego insurance, and to live beyond their means, the risk of bankruptcy is the penalty. Taking away that penalty will only encourage more of the same, creating more of the false need for the government to take care of us as though we cannot care for ourselves.

    One point the "debate" has determinedly ignored, is that of the 10 to 12 million who actually want insurance and can't afford it, the government could simply BUY them a policy, and pay out a pittance of the 2.5 TRILLION that this plan is budgeted to spend (and government entitlement plans NEVER go above what they're estimated to cost, do they....?)

    On the other hand, by your argument, if I choose not to be insured, I have a right to use your money to get health care.

    When can I expect your check?

  • smartass sob||

    One point the "debate" has determinedly ignored, is that of the 10 to 12 million who actually want insurance and can't afford it, the government could simply BUY them a policy, and pay out a pittance of the 2.5 TRILLION that this plan is budgeted to spend

    As several have already said, this whole thing is not really about providing health care or even insurance to those without it. It is about government expansion and its take-over of 1/6 of the country's economy.

  • Pharos||

    Fine points, MystWlker, but I hope you don't actually expect D Paige to come back and refute your rebuttal.

    That was classic leftist hit-n-run copypasta, right down to the patronizing "now it's our turn to fix the country, get out of the way, evil Rethugilicans" sentiment at the end.

    He/she/it is long gone and Ctrl+V'ing moral outrage many comment boards far from this one.

  • ||

    The same U.N. that enabled and profited from the "oil for food" scandal?

  • ||

    The Same UN that had the USSR and Communist China on the security council for 40 years?

    Wow. I can't *believe* THAT UN made health care a human right.

    Golly gee. I don't understand it!

  • Tim||

    LOL, don't forget the right to paid vacation!

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Lets nationalize the lawyers, since legal care is a right. Trial lawyers should be govt bureaucrats instead of private sector millionaires benefiting from the pain of others.

    Oh, yea, trial lawyers give some of their millions to Dem politicians, so that argument doesn't apply. Sorry.

  • ||

    acttually - the state will supply you with a lawyer if you can't afford one - like a public option for lawyers - and yet, somehow, pribate law firms still exist...

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    See above. You only get a govt lawyer if the govt hauls you into court. You sue me or I sue you, you need a will, a corporation made, etc, and you're on your own.

    A proper analogy would be if the state had to pay your medical bills if the state ITSELF injured you.

  • ||

    What if all doctors decided not to offer their services any longer? If health care is a right of all, one would presume that the government would force at gunpoint doctors to practice their trade.

  • smartass sob||

    It would, if it thought it necessary.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Aaron, MNG is on record as believing he has the right to literally enslave a Dr at gunpoint to save his child's life if necessary.

  • MNG||

    Yes, I do think slight infactions on liberty are justified if it saves a human life. I focus on human well being in my ethics. Many people sadly don't value human beings in their ethics.

    But we're far afeild now and I have to go be the productive Superman of Ayn Rand's wet dreams, so toodles libertarians, even teh nutty ones like John-boy here!

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    I'm a "nut" for quoting MNG accurately.

  • ||

    "Yes, I do think slight infactions on liberty are justified if it saves a human life. I focus on human well being in my ethics. Many people sadly don't value human beings in their ethics."

    Everyone has a "right" to healthcare. Okay. What happens when we can't provide everyone healthcare and still pay doctors the same salary they are getting now? Cut their pay? Okay, then doctors leave the field and we have a shortage. What do you do then? Concript them? Further, if healthcare is a "right" wouldn't paying for healthcare take presidence over every other thing in the federal budget? If it is a right, everyone gets it and you move heaven and earth to make sure of that. Yet, you know as well as I do that is not what happens or will happens. You just end up using the idea that it is a "right" as an excuse to control it and ration it.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    "slight infractions on liberty"

    Yeah, right. To you, MNG, slight is just the beginning. But the ends justify the means, no?

  • ||

    Care anything at all about those who will die waiting for rationed care MNG? As long as they aren't one of your own, I think not.

  • ||

    Well, egoists such as Max Stirner would be with you on that.

    Stirner argued against the very concept of "rights". To him, "rights" were merely priviledges granted by the state. Priviledges begged from their masters by the weak, in other words.

    According to Stirner, your "right" is what you choose to seize and own, and you take the consequences, whatever they may be, but always strive to overcome what others would impose upon you. So, according to Stirner, you have a "right" to everything you can get.

    However, he did suggest that in a society entirely composed of egoists, that you would end up with some minimalist set of rights. Since the egoists would not allow themselves to be used by others and there would be no state.

  • smartass sob||

    He sounds more like an egotist than an egoist. He also sounds like he's pushing "the will to power" crap...promulgated by Nietzsche?

  • ||

    Sometimes a couple posters here irritate me so bad that it makes me crazy, and therefore affects my health care and well being, which I have a right to maintain. So therefore, I must have the right to seek them out and kick their ass, because they're making me unhealthy. Good to know.

  • ||

    Of course, then YOU may need healthcare...

  • ||

    I think Sullum makes a point - and I think the teabaggers and repubs should run on this very platform - only people with money deserve healthcare - the rest? WHO CARES? I say TRY AND SELL THIS TO AMERICA...
    And if you're poor and have a very communicable disease - and let's say your kid goes to school with Sullum's kid - well, tough titties - Sullum's kid will have to use his healchcare to fix up his kid - hopefully.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Charities? No? People never give charitably?

  • smartass sob||

    Liberals don't - unless it's other people's money. ;-)

  • ||

    I think the teabaggers and repubs should run on this very platform

    Americans DID run on "this very platform," for 200 years. Successfully.

    What changed? What changed in the American people that has rendered this, by your reckoning, an ill-fated platform?

    I'm not saying you're wrong; in fact, you seem to be correct. I'm just curious to know what essential dynamic has changed, in your estimation: Why was it once politically acceptable to recognize that "health care" wasn't a right, and why is it politically foolhardy now?

  • ||

    whay was it politically feasable - at one point - to say that women had no right to the vote? that blacks had no right to freedom?
    what changed?

  • ||

    I'm asking you. I want your perspective. What changed to make "health care isn't a right" a politically unfeasible position?

    Did we learn something? Did the species change? Did something get better? Did something get worse?

  • ||

    So, no response.

    I'll assume you figured out that your two examples -- abolition of slavery and expansion of the franchise -- aren't analogous to "health care is a right."

    Your examples merely illustrate changed understanding about the protection of rights, not about the actual character of rights. Your examples show Americans saying, "We already know what rights are; now we realize the law should protect them for everyone." The health-care example, on the other hand, shows Americans saying, "We have changed the very definition of 'rights.'"

  • ||

    Americans who want free shit outnumber those who work for a living. That is what has changed. Thanks, FDR, you cockbag!

  • ||

    Maybe Americans are seeing what the rest of the (civilized) world saw a long time ago - that allowing huge swaths of our neighbors to go without HC is dispicable. The only people who speak like you do either have good insurance (which I do) - or have money. Only a lying SOS like Joe the Plumber would be making chump change and then worrying about paying taxes over $250k in income...

  • ||

    The only people who speak like you do either have good insurance (which I do) - or have money.

    I'm unemployed, I don't have insurance, and I don't have money.

    But I do have a firm sense of morality: I would never, ever, ever make you subsidize the care of my body. And I would never demand that a proxy in Washington make you do it for me.

    And you know what? Questioning an individual's motivations for the positions he holds, absent any evidence, should make you ashamed. Go ahead: Assume I espouse liberty because I have "money." And I'll be happy to assume you're a selfish leftist because your father, if he was around, was a sap who failed to teach you right and wrong.

  • Jeff Perren||

    "The only people who speak like you do either have good insurance (which I do) - or have money."

    False. I make annually less than the poverty level. I'm in my 50s and have a bad back, a damaged kidney, and other health ailments but cannot afford health insurance or medical care. Yet, I have no desire to rob my fellow citizens to pay for my care.

    There used to be millions of people like me. What changed was not the definition of rights - or some grand social welfare consciousness raising inspired by an allegedly morally superior Europe - but a shift downward in morality, an abandonment of the idea and value of self-responsibility.

  • smartass sob||

    The only people who speak like you do either have good insurance (which I do) - or have money.

    Nonsense - I speak like that and I have neither.

  • ||

    Yes, we've evolved socially to the point wherein we think that HC is a right... I happen to agree that it is. You don't. I think we have a clear delineation. I think you should field candidates that espouse survival of the fittest (or the luckiest, as most inheritors know) as their platform. I'll vote for folks who claim that extending health care is thge LEAST we can do for those worse off. And just for the record - you seem like a smart guy, in a country that codified BY LAW, a built in advantage for certain people - and that we know that inherited wealth continues to be the generator of much NEW wealth - how does your sense of liberty and fairness plan to deal with THAT inequity?

  • WDIK||

    Please provide an example of someone being denied medical treatment. Mind you I'm not talking about being denied the best medical treatment available, I'm talking about being denied any medical treatment. By the way Health Insurance does not equal Health Care.

  • Tim||

    They like to build up false choices between no one getting health care who can't afford it on their own income and government giving it to them.

  • smartass sob||

    in a country that codified BY LAW, a built in advantage for certain people - and that we know that inherited wealth continues to be the generator of much NEW wealth - how does your sense of liberty and fairness plan to deal with THAT inequity?

    There isn't anything unjust about inherited wealth. If one has a right to one's property, one has a right to bequeath it to others. I'd bet you wouldn't have a problem with one donating it to charity, would you? There is also inherited wealth that doesn't consist of material goods; what about inherited genes, eg., intelligence, good looks, good health, etc.? Is it unjust that some have more of those than others?

  • Jeff Perren||

    "only people with money deserve healthcare[food/water/anything_required_to_sustain_well_being_at_the_level_I_say_is_appropriate].

    And, yet, oddly, there are private (albeit subsidized, regretabbly) farmers and grocery stores and restaurants and... Something should be done about this!

  • Pharos||

    The obvious conclusion to Warpublican's argument is to get rid of money itself.

    Then everyone will have access to each and every "right" defined by whatever partisan, crafted-behind-closed-doors legislation is in fashion.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    You fools don't see it yet do you? Soon we will be providing free health care and easy citizenship to every last illegal immigrant in this country! Since we are the ones giving the free healthcare who do you think they are going to vote for? They certainly will not vote for all you right wingers and centrists whining about "cost" and "economic failure". No they will vote for us and insure are complete take over of the United States of America for the rest of the 21st century! ALL HAIL THE LEFT!

  • ||

    And the streets flowed red with the blood of those who thought guns were scary and icky.

  • ||

    Amnesty and visas for illegals for the cost of a $500 fee are already on the agenda for next year's legislation.....

  • ||

    Shriner's Hospitals also provide free health care for children with catastrophic illnesses like leukemia and other cancers. And they do it all through donations......

  • ||

    We have Medicaid for the poor, SCHIP for children up to 25 years of age in families making up to $90,000 per year, we have Medicare for people over 65.
    The only people left out already are people who CAN afford health care, but choose to spend their money elsewhere, and people from the group above who developed a medical condition while uninsured. Of those two groups, the first chose their situation themselves, and of the second, the government can simply buy them a high risk policy, and the total cost would be a fraction of what this health care plan run by the government will cost

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Children cease to be children after 18 years. SCHIP turns grown humans into kids, at least on paper.

  • ||

    The liberals want to turn us all into children for life.

  • boomshanka||

    reason.com - trapped eternally in freshman year political philosophy class.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Is that a "drink?" 'Cause I think I need one.

  • ||

    We have the right of freedom of speech - but the government does not make us speak (actually, the government is working on ways to restrict it.... see "hate crimes")

    We have the right of freedom of religion - except if it's christianity

    We have the right to peacably assemble - but the government doesn't require us to attend these assemblies

    We have the right to keep and bear arms - so when does the government require us to start keeping a firearm in our home or on our person for self defense, or defense of our property?

    But nowhere do I see the government having the authority to force us to enter into a private contract with health insurers on sufferance of fines or imprisonment...

  • creech||

    Are you happy, Mr. Lincoln? You wanted to preserve the Union so that the world would see that a republic, based on individual liberty, could thrive and prosper among the kleptocractic nations of the world. But you opened the damned door, didn't you? It only took 150 years, but the United States of America is no longer a
    nation serious about the rights of individuals. It is just one more country based on might makes right.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    If there is a "right" to health care, then there are "rights" to housing, food, transportation, shelter, and pretty much anything else considered even remotely necessary for human survival.

    By the way, resident liberals, the term "negative rights" doesn't mean the word "negative" has to BE negative. Get my drift?

  • ||

    Well, we have laws that require indigents and uninsured patients be treated. Given the existence of these laws, we also need a mechanism to enforce the responsibility to pay for this uncompensated care, and this will have to be some form of compulsory donation to avoid a "free rider" problem. Of course, you could eliminate the laws requiring medical treatment of indigents and uninsured, and if libertarians are going to be consistent they would be fighting for this true free market solution. Good luck with that!

  • ||

    I have the muthafukkin right to keep my money and I don't fucking care if you die. How's that?

  • ||

    you're an ass - if everyone said the same thing, how would you pay for your precious wars?

  • ||

    If your response was sarcastic, read no further.

    Otherwise...

    Nice assumption but you've obviously mistaken me for a neocon douchebag. IMO, we should immediately pull back every soldier and close all bases outside the US territories.

    Oh yea, I stand by my previous statement but I'll clarify it...

    I have the muthafukken *right* to not give a flippin' shit if you die.

  • deluded1||

    You're obviously a simple minded idiot who believes that political thought exists only in binary, and the forefront of political thought is only regurgitated by whatever farcical talking head you see on TV. Attempt to educate yourself.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    We'll remember that the next time a Democrat president gets us into a war... it's been known to happen, y'know.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Punk in 2012!

  • ||

    Is that a "drink?" 'Cause I think I need one.

    My initial response was "no".
    But, on further reflection, I think that probably was a DRINK -worthy comment, since it confuses reason.com with various individuals who allow themselves to be drawn into these pointless and intentionally obfuscatory circle jerks.

    I'm going to put it in my pocket, for later, but- Cheers!

  • Neu Mejican||

    Well, Sullum's whole Paleolithic man argument certainly seems straight out of a freshman philosophy essay. One which would have ended up with red marks and snide comments by the TA when graded.

  • .||

    A TA in one of those leftist bastions of academia known as universities? What else would one expect in those places?

  • ||

    Whoa.

    DUDE.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30925.html

  • ||

    Hey, let's stop our full speed ahead decline into socialism and try to do things good for the economy, until we win in the 2010 elections, and then back to business as usual. The sheeple will buy it...

  • ||

    Most of the things outlined were already supposed to be part of the 787 billion in stimulus they haven't been able to figure out how to spend. But, yeah, let's get a new bill in the works with all those things in it. If at first you don't succeed, double down.

  • nate||

    You almost got there...the folly of the "right" to health care is that you infringe on another's God-given right to provide it. If it is my right to receive care, I am taking away a doctor's right and forcing him to do what he may not care to do.

    The doctor is the one who has the right to charge what he would like for a service and for only providing that service to whom he pleases.

  • ||

    RC, I've only seen rather arbitrary ways of limiting rights to negative rights too...Let's start there. Why are rights limited to negative things? And are they (see my police example above)?

    Not willing to engage on the question of how you limit, in a principled way, a positive right to any particular good or service, are you, MNG?

    Negative rights, that is, the right not to be interfered with by the government, are much more susceptible of principled limitations. Unlike positive rights, for example, negative rights are limited by the principle that your exercise of that right cannot cause harm to another person.

    There are no such principled limitations on positive rights, a fatal flaw.

    See my discussion of the police above. They are not compelled but paid to protect you. And liberals want to see doctors paid to treat people.

    Missing the point, MNG, which is that there is no "right" to police protection.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Missing the point, MNG, which is that there is no "right" to police protection."

    As the courts have already established.

    You cannot sue the police for failing to keep someone from mugging you, stealing your car, etc.

  • OMG||

    +1

  • ||

    I focus on human well being in my ethics.

    MNG's focus on human well-being seems to call fora surprising amount of violence (or the threat thereof). Burning the village to save it, eh, MNG?

  • T||

    It's the Cedar Rapids philosophy as applied to politics. Very popular lately, for some reason.

  • ||

    For Chad or MNG, I have a question. By what Constitutional and/or moral authority do I have the right to decide how much of your incomes I will allow you to keep so that I can have the funds to exercise my right to health care? As an older person with increasing health care concerns I know you are happy to go to work each day to provide for my needs and wants. I know I should have been more careful about sun exposure and alcohol use during my younger years, but it's only fair you should share the responsibility for my actions and help me out during these trying times.

  • ||

    I think you are onto something here. I should start drinking heavily right now and eating at Wendys every day. Maybe I'll even take up smoking now! I will soon be unable to work and can retire early on all the free health care money that MNG will be so willing to give me.

  • ||

    I think MNG should be required to trade in his Toyota for a bicycle. The exercise would be to his benefit and the savings in gas and repairs would go a long way toward taking care of our health needs. He's really a selfish, greedy bastard if he doesn't do that.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    Once you accept the principle that the state can compel you to pay for services, you've already conceded MNG's principles. There's no pricipled argument for compelling you to pay for the fire company but not for healthcare.

  • Tim||

    There's a big difference, fire companies to an extent are natural monopolies and fires spread to adjacent buildings.

    There are no good similar arguments about health care. Government could compel and pay for vaccinations, but there is no reason to have one single payer system paying for the entirety of a nation's health care; at most we could have some program for the poor.

  • Draco||

  • ||

    The article is exactly right. When you say that someone has a "right to health care", you're saying that they have a right to someone else's property and/or labor. The first claim has a name. It's called "theft". The second also has a name. It's called slavery.

  • Tony||

    Is our right to the labor of members of the armed forces also slavery/theft?

  • ||

    We don't have a right to their service. They give it of their own free will. When they are conscripted, that is slavery and I challenge you to find a libertarian who thinks conscription is acceptable.

  • smartass sob||

    Very succint, AJ.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Hyperion,

    ...I have an obligation to care for that child, at least a moral obligation until that child is able to care for their own self. I don't think anyone here would argue against that.

    I would like to point out that several people have already argued against that on this thread. It seems to be a default position used to protect the idea that all rights are negative. It typically requires a hard line to be drawn between "immoral" acts and acts that violate the rights of others. Somehow carving out a special set of immoral acts worthy to be protected by your natural rights.

    It also requires that we define "act" as an assertive choice. Not allowing a choice to "refrain" or "ignore" to be a moral act.

  • T||

    I would disagree. All choices (well, except the trivial) carry some degree of moral weight. You may be an immoral bastard if you watch a baby drown face down in a puddle, but you have not violated that baby's rights. Our system of law even recognizes there is no positive duty to act. You cannot, (in most states), be prosecuted for standing around and watching someone die. Are you an immoral scumbag? Most people would say yes.

    Part of the problem here is the attempt (mostly unsuccessful, IMHO) to conflate libertarianism, which is primarily a political philosophy, with some grand overarching moral theory. Libertarianism has a lot to say about the proper role of government in society and human affairs, but far far less to say about your personal morality.

  • smartass sob||

    Are you certain of that? Ever heard of something called depraved indifference?

  • ||

    What I can't understand is that Liberals want to "help" the "needy" with other peoples money.
    VP Biden averaged something like $400 in charitable giving in the last 10 years. I'm an average middle-class guy and I gave 10 times that. It's criminal to force (tax) one group of people to "help" another group.
    At least, if you want my money have the decency to kindly ask for it instead of robbing me blind while hiding behind the Government. Liberals/progressives are selfish people and so mentally confounded that they rob one guy and give it to another guy and call themselves caring and charitable. What a bizzare group of people.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Liberals have a habit of calling people who support (any) war or military action "chickenhawks" if they don't simultaneously join the military and put their life on the line at the same time as doing so.

    Well I say that same concept applies to them in advocating confiscatory socialist programs.

    They are chickensocialists unless they voluntarily liqiuidate their entire neth worth and turn the proceeds over to the federal government and sign a legally binding contract with the government to turn over 100% of everything they earn for the rest of their lives to fund said programs.

    Every last one of them should be willing to do so before anyone else is required to contribute so much as one cent or the are CHICKENSOCIALISTS!

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Give up my vineyards? Are you insane?!!

  • ||

    completely false analogy - YOU call those who want to expand HC socialists - but you call ANY expansion of government socialism - you just have no idea what socialism is...

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Nope

    It is a 100% accurate analogy.

    And you aren't the least bit capable of proving the case is otherwise.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    For someone named "Warpublican", he sure sounds like a liberal...

    Oh, wait. My irony sensor needs a new battery.

  • smartass sob||

    What I can't understand is that Liberals want to "help" the "needy" with other peoples money.
    VP Biden averaged something like $400 in charitable giving in the last 10 years.

    But...but...surely you don't expect them to give up their own money? That would be unthinkable. Like Dean Martin said in the movie, "The Sons of Katie Elder": never use your own money to buy whiskey - get someone else to pay for it. That's what suckers are for.

  • ||

    All other considerations aside, how the fuck does forcing people to buy health insurance constitute a "right to healthcare"?

  • ||

    That's a liberal's dream - making money out of Rights.

  • Paul||

    Healthcare is a form of wealth. Therefore, we now have a right to wealth.

  • WDIK||

    Didn't you get the memo? Health Insurance is Health Care. If a person doesn't have health insurance there is no way they can get medical treatment. Those without health insurance are doomed to die. In addition should you not see this logic or disagree with it well then you are just a heartless bastard and want to thousands nay millions of people die.

  • Old Mexican||

    You cannot have a right to something that is ultimately somebody else's labor. Otherwise, you are talking about enslaving the owner of that labor.

    So, no, MNG or Chad or Neu: People do NOT have a right to health care NOR do they have a right to education or anything else that entails the labor of others. People do have a right to seek a service, to trade for it with others, but not to have it.

  • ||

    Strawmen and verbal masturbation work better in explaining why people should get something for nothing.

    Also, this whole idea is counter-intuitive to reducing waste (unintended consequences). It would follow that the more people with *access* to health care, the less people die prematurely which means a higher quantity of human pollution. So by giving everybody free healthcare, you kill the planet.

    I chuckle... oh yes, I do chuckle.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chad,

    Libertarians simply refuse to acknowledge that not all rights are negative.

    Those that are positive are the ones that you happen to like... right?

  • ||

    No. We refuse to acknowledge people who touch themselves.

  • T||

    But we do acknowledge that touching yourself is a right.

  • ||

    I disagree. Only hot chicks should have that right.

  • Gern||

    There can be no logical argument for negative rights and positive rights existing within the same moral framework. Positive rights are in inherent conflict with those rights that arise from freedom. Either you have freedom, and therefore the right to your own time and resources, or you are enslaved to the needs of others. Any middle ground is self contradictory and the sign of a confused individual. No argument can be made for positive rights that does not logically lead to the enslavement of mankind to his fellow man. So yea, I reject positive rights because I reject slavery.

  • Tony||

    Every system of government in the world requires that people sacrifice some trivial rights in order to have access to more useful rights. Your framework would make the guy on a deserted island more free than the one who enjoys the benefits and protections of civilization. That's ludicrous.

    In order to enjoy the freedom that comes with traffic regulations (freedom from being randomly run over) I give up the trivial right to drive through intersections whenever I please. In most cases, this is a good tradeoff.

  • ||

    If you are within any government's jurisdiction, you are inherently less free than someone who is his own king.

  • Tony||

    Only if you define freedom in a pointlessly trivial way, namely, freedom from government.

    There are hundreds of benefits that come with living under our government that increase the number of liberties I have access to many times over what the deserted island dweller enjoys.

  • ||

    Tony, freedom is being one's own master. You could be a slave with a long leash and lots of toys, but you're still a slave.

  • Tony||

    And you could be absolutely free of constraints and still be a slave to the whims of nature.

    To me, freedom actually means something.

  • Marc||

    To me, "slave" actually means something.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, every possible way of life but your own radical vision.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Being a slave to the government doesn't sound like freedom to me, Tony.

  • smartass sob||

    Only if you define freedom in a pointlessly trivial way, namely, freedom from government.

    Trivial? You might not think freedom from governement was so "pointlessly" trivial, if you had ever had armed, uniformed thugs kick down your door in the middle of the night and cram your face into the goddamned floor. The only thing trivial around here are your efforts at thought.

  • crayon||

    FREEDUMB!!! HURR DURR!!!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Every system of government in the world requires that people sacrifice some trivial rights [...]

    What's a trivial right? One that does not jibe with you?

  • ||

    Every system of government in the world requires that people sacrifice some trivial rights in order to have access to more useful rights.

    You don't even realize what a snivelling weaselly syncophant to power this make you look like.

    Just go put on a top hat and a tail coat and say than in a casual english or french aristocratic accent, and it would be perfect.

  • Marc||

    Upmod.

  • Tim||

    What nobody is saying is that morals apply only to individuals, not societies. The reason is that each individual is bestowed with unalienable rights. Governments are instituted solely to ensure that those rights are protected. Correct morals, at a minimum, must avoid infringing on others' rights. However, it is not government's job to enforce morals. Morals can go beyond not infringing on others' rights. I for one feel morally compelled to help others in need of food or shelter. However, my morals do not permit me to infringe on the rights of others by enforcing that morality via a government, even if the majority shares my view.

    We all have a moral obligation to protect the rights of others, since all morality must include avoidance of infringing others' rights. Thus, we are compelled to establish governments to do so. Part of that compulsion includes paying taxes to fund those efforts. Government levy of taxes that properly funds such efforts is not equivalent to stealing; it is an obligation that flows from being part of a society that governs itself according to proper principles.

    Thus, the question comes down to one of rights. What is a right and what is not? In America, we tend to follow the Declaration's definition of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These rights must not be taken from any of us except through due process. What is the right to life? It is the right to avoid losing one's life through the force or negligence of others. The right to liberty? It is the right against having one's volition taken away through the force or negligence of others. The right to the pursuit of happiness? It is the right against having one's possessions taken away through the force or negligence of others.

    Health care does not qualify under any of the traditional basic rights. Thus, if it is proper to provide if via government, we must find a new form of rights in order to consider it a right that government must protect.

    Arguably, we could look to the Constitution, which states that one of the US government's functions is to "promote the general welfare." This concept is a broad one, but it seems properly interpreted as "take steps to ensure that America is as prosperous as possible in total." This would be in keeping with GENERAL welfare as opposed to specific. Since this area is one that the Constitution explicitly addresses, we can assume that it involves protecting rights. So does health care promote the general welfare? In itself, clearly; virtually any good promotes the general welfare in some way. However, the question is not so simple as whether "health care" is better than "no health care." Rather, it is "in what way can society provide health care as to best promote the general welfare?" and the analysis of this question must consider the full economic and social implications of the decision. If we conclude that a full government-run health care system is the best way to do so, then we will have proven that health care is indeed a right. Otherwise, we do not disprove the proposition, but we also fail to prove it.

    To what other recognized authority or reasoned argument can we turn to find a definition of "right" that allows health care to be considered one? Alternatively, how can we reason within the framework of rights I have addressed to make health care fit? I can't find one, but I welcome attempts to do so.

  • anonymous||

    If people have a right to healthcare, aren't doctors violating their rights when they charge them money?

    I mean, I have a right not to be assaulted. If someone hits me, then they violate my right. However, if they say they will hit me unless I give them the contents of my wallet, they're still violating my right -- they can't attach conditions to not violating my right.

    Similarly, if I have the unconditional, fundamental human right to medical treatment, then isn't asking for payment, "fair" or otherwise, simply extortion?

  • Tony||

    First of all, the right to healthcare doesn't exist yet in this country. What's the point of arguing about whether this or that right exists in the abstract ether? No right does. Rights exist because we decide to make them exist. I believe we should make healthcare a right, where it wasn't one before.

  • Paul||

    Tony, an honest answer that I can respect. There is a process for this, you know. Any clue as to why it's not used?

  • anonymous||

    Yes, and if the right exists, and someone demands that you pay them or they'll violate that right, it's extortion.

  • Marc||

    Rights exist because we decide to make them exist.

    Have you ever tried to follow the logical consequences of this?

  • Paul||

    If he answers my question correctly, then he's relatively safe in his position. If he answers my question incorrectly, then rights cease to exists because we decide they don't exist.

  • Marc||

    I think he can be consistent in his position, if he doesn't, you know, mind being a monster. I'm not sure I would call that "safe", though.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, be thankful we live in a system that guarantees a lot of rights.

    You tell me where rights come from. The fabric of the cosmos? A bearded sky fairy?

  • Marc||

    Don't duck the question. Who are "we", and what if we disagree?

  • Tony||

    Then exercise your freedom of expression, try to get a majority to go along with you, and change things in a legitimate way.

  • Paul||

    So then you admit that "rights" are at the whim of a simple majority vote?

  • Marc||

    The principle of majority rule derives from the fabric of the cosmos. Or, perhaps, a bearded sky fairy. Amen.

  • Tony||

    No, some, such as those outlined in the bill of rights, would require a supermajority to overturn. That's a good thing. Now you tell me if there's a better way to enforce individual rights than via democracy? If they come from God then God is free to come smite anyone who violates them. Otherwise, we need some sort of system, do we not?

  • Marc||

    So conceivably, there might come into existence a right to hunt the homeless for sport, so long as the correct procedures were followed.

    Sucks to be in the superminority, huh?

  • Majorities Are Magical!||

    What freedom of expression? Did we agree to that already?

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    It doesn't exist, Tony. But you'll disagree, of course.

  • ||

    Those fighting HC for all can analyze, chat up and blog all you want about what's right or wrong or most moral or immoral about govt mandated HC for all citizens. But as long as HC costs keep climbing into the stratosphere, as long as businesses keep dumping their employee coverage due to these costs, as long tens of millions can get no coverage now without new policies, then people like me who are in almost perfect health and yet get charged $18,000 a year for coverage (true) -- then our current system is unfair, too expensive, and not helping enough people. Since I cannot afford to pay this astronomical price and have had no HC insurance for years, whether I have a "right" to HC is immaterial. I need affordable HC or the next big health problem I have could kill me because I won't be getting any HC.

  • anonymous||

    You're demanding that the people who created and benefit from the problem solve it. As long as you assume a solution to your problem will come from that vector, you're doomed from the start.

  • Paul||

    John, you're aware that aside from the philosophical questions of HC being a 'right', there are proposed reforms that libertarians suggest which would arguably lower those costs dramatically, give you the HC you need, and not even have to tangle with the thorny issue of healthcare-as-right issue?

  • jk||

    JK,

    Normally I would object to someone using the same name I use except capitalized but I agree with what you have written so I won't.

  • Paul||

    Did Paleolithic hunter-gatherers have a right to the “affordable, comprehensive and high-quality medical care” that the Congressional Progressive Caucus says is a right of “every person”? If so, who was violating that right?

    In the same way heroin addiction is a "disease". We just don't have a good explanation about how that disease manifested itself before there was, you know, heroin.

  • ||

    Well….ummm……there are those who…….umm..would say we cannot umm… afford universal health care….umm…and I…..um…….Goddammit, not again! - Joe, who turned the teleprompter off?!

  • matthew ||

    Seriously dude, way to latch onto the word "right". How about it's our "duty" to our fellow countrymen. Would that make you happy?

  • Paul||

    So we're sort of being 'drafted' into paying for our neighbors healthcare, and thus health choices?

  • ||

    No. Because there is no such duty. Our fellow countrymen can dry up and blow away in the fucking breeze, for all I care.

  • ||

    I never looked at healthcare payment reform in the context of the US Constitution. The Jim Crow laws of the early 1900s were theoretically allowable under the Constitution until someone got creative with the Interstate Commerce Clause. Let's put it this way: The Constitution neither explicitly creates nor denies a right to healthcare in our nation. Accordingly, it is a blank slate. The mutterings of our leaders are inconsequential. The do not speak ex cathedra. They merely address a constituency. Call it commercial speech. But perhaps on a higher plane, one above the compromises chiseled into constitutions and statutes, we as civilized humans in a modern society believe that medical technology should be available to all at some level, without bankruptcy. It's shameful that we cannot reach some accomodation within our framework of governance to achieve this goal without the agitation the current debate engenders.

  • Tony||

    Right, it's a dishonest distraction for libertarians to complain that the right to healthcare isn't constitutional. Courts can decide that question. I would say that if our system doesn't allow universal healthcare then we need a better system. Thankfully I believe it does.

  • Marc||

    Our system does allow universal healthcare. The steps are as follows:

    1. Whenever you see somebody that needs healthcare and isn't getting it, pay for it.
    2. Convince others to do the same, until everyone's covered all the time.

    What you would prefer to do is skip #1 and substitute force for persuasion in #2, but that's a personal failing.

  • Jeff Perren||

    "What you would prefer to do is skip #1 and substitute force for persuasion in #2, but that's a personal failing."

    Bravo! Well said.

  • T||

    From where, exactly, does the Congress derive the authority to require me to purchase health insurance?

  • Tim||

    The states have the power to enact such programs, just not the feds. Constitutionally at least.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    There IS no right to health care.

  • ||

    There are plenty of ways to provide better access to health care that don't involve inefficient, oppressive gov't intervention. The problem is that an entitlement mentality is stronger than logic.

  • T||

    You can't reason someone out a position they didn't arrive at by reason.

  • Paul||

    Peter A... nice rhetorical 'flourish' which ignores the ugly, messy details. Again, I say, there is a process in which we can chisel this into the constitution as a right. Ducking the issue just reinforces the idea that our leaders do anything they want, when they want-- and as such, can undo it anytime they want.

  • ||

    I never looked at healthcare payment reform in the context of the US Constitution. The Jim Crow laws of the early 1900s were theoretically allowable under the Constitution until someone got creative with the Interstate Commerce Clause.

    False. Jim Crow laws were always a violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The fact that the courts were (and remain) unwilling to enforce that clause as written does not change its clear meaning.

  • ||

    I haven't seen this kind of vitriol on this site b4. Don't come here other than via Real Clear. Seems to lack a certain, I don't know, intelligence.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    No JohnLee. You need to phrase it in the form "For a site called Reason..."

  • Paul||

    And I could sure use a drink...

  • deluded1||

    Huh, I thought there were a number of intelligent arguments...unless you're speaking of the article itself.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Yeah, having Tony, Chad, Morris, MNG, and crayon around certainly drags the posting quality down...

  • Citizen Nothing||

    "I haven't seen this kind of vitriol on this site b4..."
    That's rich, it is.

  • ||

    Umm...Uh..Umm.........UhUm....

  • Shawna||

    I support the right to a revolution where we decide to make our legilators accountable for their actions and make them start doing the job they were sent to DC to do....uphold the Constitution and work on BEHALF of the American people...not for themselves. I am done with politics as usual in Washington, DC and am sad to see what is happening right now. Say what you want to but for those of you who are willing to open your minds to common sense you will see that mandating someone to buy health insurance is a clear violation of the Constitution and our founding fathers would be so ashamed.

  • Draco||

    There is no way to resolve the tension between the meaning of rights that libertarians (and the founders, and small government conservatives) understand, and the meaning of rights that progressives (so very typically and conveniently represented by MNG here) "understand." No way, that is, short of either separation, or war. For the meaning of rights that the progressives "understand" is a declaration of war on reasonable men who abide by natural law.

    You may need to read James Donald's essay on natural law and natural rights to see what I mean.

    The bottom line is that what libertarians understand as "rights" are a codification of what happens under natural law, and of the means by which humans associate peacefully with one another, and destroy (or punish, or avoid) violent and evil interlopers in their midst when necessary. They are a codification of the evolutionary stable strategy for the use of force.

    What progressives have done is cloak their violence and evil in a penumbra of positive law and reams and reams of bombast and circumlocution. All of which amounts to nothing more than "I want what you've got -- now give it to me."

    Reasonable and peaceful men have a right to defend their lives and property against violation of natural law and natural right. Such violation is the essence of most progressive legislation.

  • smartass sob||

    Or to put it another way: you're wasting your time and breath arguing with a bunch of thieves.

  • ||

    I think that the whole point of fixing the health care system is that it is completely fucked up, largely by the government that is trying to fix it. People have a right to health care at fair market value, it is not at FMV right now. medical centers that take medicade or medicare are reimbursed at a fraction of the full cost, if at all. Also, medical centers are allowed to send bills up to five years after the procedure is done. I just received an additional bill for a simple procedure I had done over a year ago. A procedure that I thought was going to cost around 1 grand has now added up to over 2, with 3 separate bills. No other industry can send you a bill a year later for a non-predetermined rate and expect you to pay it on receipt, people would freak out. Not to mention the effect of malpractice and malpractice insurance on the cost of health care. Fix these things and the uninsured people like me would be satisfied with the health care system. As it is, I would be satisfied with any kind of change.

  • ||

    I believe that the conflation of economic entitlements with political rights began in the US with FDR's "Four Freedoms" speech. You'll notice the clever mixing of political rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of worship, with an asserted economic entitlement, "freedom from want." Once the conflation of an economic entitlement with a political right was accepted by the American people, the rest of the social welfare entitlement state was a simple logical progression that brings us to our current situation.

    "In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
    The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.
    The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.
    The third is freedom from want -- which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.
    The fourth is freedom from fear -- which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor-- anywhere in the world."

    http://www.wwnorton.com/colleg.....prs36b.htm

  • doc||

    Why is it so difficult for general public and elected officials to understand that health most influenced by actions of the population, most notably proper eating, exercize, refraining from smoking, etc. The fact that we have lazy, ignorant US citizens who won't live healthy lifestyle is a HUGE reason our healthcare is so expensive. How about some personal responsibility! I'm a physician and unfortunatly see the problem daily.

  • ||

    While I understand individual liberty is important for all persons, we all have choices, we all have outcomes that depend on our choices. However, as a recently graduated college student with a chemistry degree, I am finding it extremely difficult to find a suitable job to pay for health care. I am also furthering my education currently, and school health insurance plans? doesn't pay for jack diddly. In undergrad I was required (IE, forced to go, or be kicked out of my school) to attend some outpatient mental health sessions, that my college insurance didn't cover. At this time, I was also on my parent's insurance that wouldn't cover it because I already went through another insurance company to pay for it. I ended up having to pay for 3,000 dollars of sessions out of pocket, while paying tuition, books and living expenses. (I know that you are all going to say "boo hoo, poor you... wa wa wa," but what if that happened to you? Yes I paid it, after abut 40 hours on the phone arguing with the school, and the insurance companies). The time and effort (and money) that I wasted trying to get my insurance to pay for something it should have, just infuriated me. The insurance industry doesn't care about people. They care about money. Money isn't what is important in life, and if you think it is, you have some serious problems..They get rich off of everyone else's back by charging obscene amounts for coverage, punishing doctors, small businesses, and individuals.

    While I do not agree with everything in the health care bill, and would personally see government run clinics and hospitals where persons can seek treatment for free or low cost, and private care facilities that people can pay for if they want (This is what they do in Jamaica, and it works out great)

    Our current health care system just isn't very good when compared to other modernized, industrial countries (especially those with "socialized" or universal access to health care) our rate of obesity, osteoporosis, mothers dying in child birth, children dying in child birth, lower life expectancy, and general overall heath are pretty crappy. We also have stupid abstinence only education (this is a health issue).

    I don't understand how a person doesn't have the right to health care. I know that equal opportunity does not mean "equal outcome" some people are more talented and smarter than others. some have more money at the beginning of life due to their parent's status. Some are more ruthless, willing to lie, cheat and steal to get what they want.

    So you are okay with people stealing your money all for the sake of capitalism? but it isn't okay for the government to use tax dollars to help a poor mother pay for cough medicine for her kid? The truth is, the people who hold wealth in America don't give two shits about anyone else (with maybe the exception of Bill Gates) But he is giving back with one hand, that was first taken with the other. If we didn't have taxes, laws and some limits to personal freedom, no one would have ANY. We have a social contract, because, if one person steals/murders/rapes/cheats etc, it places everyone's security and liberty at risk. We have tax dollars so our children can be educated, our roads can be maintained, we can pay police officers,(and so we can blow up other kids in other countries, which, thankfully most libertarians are opposed to the war, which is something we can agree on)

    Overall, however, I will contend that we are a fat, ignorant and selfish nation and it is no wonder the rest of the world hates us.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on..

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