Free Markets, Free People

The Health Care “Moral Obligation” Argument

Dave Schuler, via Cassandra, provides the best counter to the emerging argument on the left meant to reframe the health care debate. That of a supposed “moral obligation” to provide it through government.

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that there’s a right to healthcare nor have I seen a coherent argument made that it is, merely a claim. However, bear with me.

Is it possible to make a coherent argument that government-provided healthcare is a moral obligation but that our obligation doesn’t extend to people in Zambia? I don’t think it is but I’m willing to listen to the arguments.

As am I. Because what Schuler lays out there in question form is the logical extension of such a “moral obligation”. It is either a universal one (government has the obligation to provide health care to everyone), or it is no moral obligation at all – just another bit of cheap political rhetoric designed to appeal to your emotions.

And that brings me to the attempt this past week by Obama to enlist religious leaders into his campaign by claiming such a moral obligation (MichaelW has written about it here) and framing it in such a way that the inevitable “What Would Jesus Do” questions emerge.

Well, quite frankly, Jesus wouldn’t say anything about the state, much less anything about the state providing aid and comfort to the people. As is clear to even those with just a passing familiarity with Jesus’s ministry he implored individuals to care for their friends, neighbors and even strangers in need.

But the state was never a part of his ministry or his exhortations to help the poor. In fact he made a distinct separation between the two noting that the state was of this world and his ministry was of the divine.

Ironically, if George Bush had said some were out there were “bearing false witness”, or called his effort “40 days to health care reform”, or had told religious leaders that he felt that it was a “moral obligation” to provide health care (through government) the left would have exploded. We’d have seen references to separation of church and state and claims we were headed into a “theocracy” from the usual suspects.

Yet so desperate is the left right now to push government run health care that even the sort of appeal for religious support that would have initiated a veritable feeding frenzy with the anti-Christian zealots among them has solicited barely a whisper of dissent.

In a free country if you feel you have a moral obligation to provide health care to others, no one will stop you from acting to provide it. However, in a free country, no one will force you to act on what they arbitrarily choose to define as a “moral obligation” and with which you don’t agree.



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13 Responses to The Health Care “Moral Obligation” Argument

  • Every example of charity that Jesus spoke about was individual. Then there are these blasphemers who call themselves “The Matthew 25 Network”: they don’t preach individual charity, but rather government solutions to caring for the sick and poor. They supported Obama.

    They should actually call themselves the Matthew 23 Network, because that perfectly describes those who falsely go around in Jesus’ name.

  • I’m not a fan of borderless rights. If we were serious about it, we should be rolling the tanks into Mexico to ensure everyone was getting habeous corpus and putting down Police corruption in general.

    Its a horrible counter argument that could easily become the basis for a UN fund we are required to contribute towards. Seriously, you really think they plan to stop at our borders? They’ll call that bluff.

  • “Wouldn’t Jesus support universal health care?”

    To which I respond: “What do you care? Jesus wouldn’t support abortion but that doesn’t seem to matter to you”

  • Actually the best argument against the moral obligation issue is all of the following: “Is there a moral obligation to let people have freedom to chose how to care for their own body? Is there a Moral obligation to not leave huge deficits for our children? Is there a moral obligation for sound money policies? Is there a moral obligation to actually learn something from the mistakes of other nations who are trying to get out from under their socialistic systems as fast as they can? Is there a Moral obligation to follow our own constitution which has always left such things up to the individual states?”

  • You know, its really dredging the bottom of the septic tank for an institution based in theft on a grand scale to even think about mentioning the words *moral obligation*.
    The arrogance of these animals is appalling – shocking even.
    Clearly they know no limits except at the end of a gun.

  • We can determine what we want to see as a moral obligation, as a society. Also, note these stats:

    Our system compares poorly to cheaper and more effective single payer systems in Europe. But facts are often defeated by fear, and the fear mongers are pushing aside reason and offering raw emotion to prevent a rational debate. Sad.

    • Well, Scott, let me ask you this: Is it your prediction that if we implement the British system that we can have a life expectancy of 79.1 years at an expenditure of 8.4% of GDP.

      Think carefully before you offer your prediction. Do you expect a British style health care system will reduce accidental deaths and homicides in this country? Do you expect that we will end up with the same delays and restriction that the British system offers? Do you look forward to pulling your own teeth because of a shortage of dentists?


    • “But facts are often defeated by fear, and the fear mongers are pushing aside reason and offering raw emotion to prevent a rational debate. Sad.”

      Scott – you do realize that both sides are doing this, right? And you do realize that most of us agree the current system is not ideal, right? The problem you seem to keep glossing over is the concern that a 1,000+ bill that no one has read is going to be a nightmare, with unintended (or intended) consequences we won’t be able to change in the future.

      You’re sad – and just for giggles, how about commenting on the topic at hand… the moral obligation. Do you disagree with McQ that the left (yourself inluded) would have gone bonkers if Bush made the same appeal?

    • Scott,

      If you factor out homicide and auto accidents, the US lifespan is the longest. And, if you look at survival rates for a varity of medical procedures, the US wins out.

      Here is something a bit more substantial than your link:

      Now, given the above facts, an obvious inference is that American healthcare should be more expensive. More auto accidents, more stabbings, more shootings, etc. Not to mention, higher obesity.

    • “We can determine what we want to see as a moral obligation, as a society.”

      Really? We can determine what is moral by a majority vote? So apartheid was moral? Or, at least, moral in some places. Your statement is an absurd, irrational claim. From the guy who claims to be using reason in the debate.

  • Jesus was public health care. He walked around healing the sick.

    And he didn’t pick anyone’s pocket along the way.