“Everyone deserves health care”
That’s been the starting position for everyone who supported the health care reform monstrosity that just came out of Washington DC. It’s stated in various ways, such as health care being a “right”, but the axiom is always that in our society everyone should have health care, or as a practical matter, health insurance.
It sounds so compassionate and decent doesn’t it? But that little phrase packs in some nasty principles.
It’s one thing to say that you deserve to control your own life, or property or income. That’s pretty uncontroversial. But when you say, “I have a right to have health care–or a pension, or a home–provided for me even if I can’t afford it”, then what you’re really saying is that I have an obligation to provide you with those things. Whether I wish to provide them to you, or whether it causes me some degree of privation, is irrelevant. To say that you–or anyone else–has a right to something I must provide is to say that you have an irrevocable claim on my life, labor or property. I owe you.
No matter how you try to gussy it up, or dress it in compassion, the fact is that by claiming that such an obligation, you place me in indentured servitude. My wishes are irrelevant.
Indeed, it’s not even indentured servitude. At least in an indenture, I have to agree to provide you with my labor for some period, after which I am manumitted. In actuality, by claiming such an obligation on me that I cannot evade, you make me, to some degree, your serf. You are the laird of the manor, and I have my obligation of labor days to provide you.
Now, perhaps I should be willing to provide you with health insurance. Perhaps that is the moral and/or ethical course of action I should undertake. But that, too, is irrelevant. By demanding it, and by forcing me to provide you with a good or service by law, you not only ignore my conception of morality, you impose your morality on me. Whether I agree with your morality is not even a consideration for you. You have a claim,you say, so your morality trumps mine.
Moreover, once you’ve accepted that it’s perfectly all right to impose a form of servitude on me, in order that I might provide you with a good, what’s your limiting principle? If you may impose an obligation on me to provide a part of my income or property in order to procure a good for yourself, why can’t you simply take all of it? After all, you’ve already signed on to imposing slavery in principle, because you’ve decided that you can impose an obligation on me against my will. Why stop at serfdom?
Slavery, to one degree or another, is, of course, the inevitable outcome of any attempt to enforce some sense of cosmic justice on life, and the lives of your fellow men. Because there is no such thing as cosmic justice. Nor is there any general agreement on what cosmic justice should be. So, your attempt to impose it on others invariably must be done by force, either through the majesty of the law, or with a knife to the throat.
Which is often the same thing.
So, what you are really saying when you claim that “Everyone deserves health care,” is, “I have the right to enslave you, in whole or in part, in order to require you provide health care to me.” When you strip the high-sounding phrases to the principles, it doesn’t sound nearly so moral and compassionate, does it?
Oh, and by the way, it does no good to tell me that I also have the same claim on others, and can force someone else to provide me with health care, too. Because all you’re really telling me is that I can become a slavemaster, too. The fact that I don’t care to be a slavemaster, or that I find it morally abhorrent, is utterly irrelevant to you. Again, your morality trumps mine.
Because, after all, if you can get everyone else to join you in your crime–indeed, to glory in it–who will condemn you?
Discuss amongst yourselves.