Health care is desirable, not a right

After months of heated debate, President Barack Obama signed the controversial health care legislation, H.R. 3590 and H.R. 4872 into law on March 30. The vast majority of the discussion focused on the quality of care and economic implications. Although obvious questions arise as to how a new government entitlement will do anything but increase the deficit, there remains a more fundamental issue with the bill and the concepts behind it.

We were told that health care was a “right” and that there was a “moral imperative” to guarantee that right to every citizen. Even many of those opposed to the bill ceded the point that the ideas behind it were both good and noble. I contend that not only is access to health care not a right, but to use force to provide it through taxation and coercion is immoral.

The American concept of rights as our founders understood them were rights of action, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The misunderstanding arises when needs are confused with rights. Everyone has a need of food, clothing and shelter, but not a right to force others to provide these needs. Rather, it is the right of every individual to pursue and obtain these necessities as long as they are not impeding on the ability of others to do so. The so-called right to health care is as legitimate as a right to a hotdog.

Additionally, in order to guarantee this right there are two options. The first is to force medical practitioners to provide care without compensation – in short turn doctors into slaves. But of course those on the left cannot have this seeing as they are so indescribably compassionate and care so much about the well being of doctors and their families. Instead the second option is taken, which is to use taxation to pay the costs. Therefore in order to guarantee this right to health care, it is necessary to use force. No longer is there simply a right to provide one’s self with food and shelter, but it is the job of one’s neighbor to guarantee that right, or else.

That is not to say that universal healthcare for all is not a desirable outcome, only that the methods of achieving it through force are wrong. Giving to charities in order to help the poor is commendable and should be encouraged, but there is an enormous difference between a free person giving away their own money and the government “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

If those on the left are as compassionate as they so often declare themselves to be, why not provide for the poor themselves instead of resorting to government coercion? They claim it’s the fat-cat capitalists who are selfish, hoarding their millions and exploiting the common worker. Of course none of the modern liberals are greedy. In fact they care so much that they are willing to provide for the poor with other people’s money; truly admirable.

Health care guaranteed by the government, like food and housing, are not rights, but as the great classical liberal Alexis de Tocqueville classified them, “rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” In order to guarantee this “moral imperative,” it is necessary to trample over true and legitimate rights the founders of this nation fought and died to protect.