I wrote this a couple weeks ago. It was obviously inspired by the health care debate, but it touches on my feelings on the role of government in private life.

Rights are those things granted by God or Nature which every human for tens of thousands of years have been born with. They are few, but they have not changed. Every living thing is born with the ability to succeed within the limits of their potential. This is called freedom, the most fundamental right. The experience of freedom can be limited by circumstance, but the claim to it is universal. There is also the right to protect one’s self, family, and property. To deny this right, is to forfeit freedom. Another inherent right is that to the intellectual domain; the realm of choice, belief, and knowledge that cannot be touched by external factors.

We were not born with the gift of medicine any more than we were born with the gifts of television, mathematics, automobiles, electricity, or government. All of these are the result of observation, study, knowledge and innovation. These inventions are hard-earned, over the course of human history, and are a testament to our ability to shape the world around us, but could be easily stripped from us under the right circumstances. All of these things are privileges that we enjoy, that we should be thankful for, and that we can take pride in proliferating, but none are our right.

Health care is not a right. It is the invention of society, though it may be a goal that society-minded individuals should strive for… As medicine/health care often relate directly to our ability to live, it is understandable that individuals would defend their access to it. There is, however, no inherent claim to good health. Why, then, should I be imposed upon to provide this privilege for anybody that that I don’t implicitly choose?

Because the government says so? Government does not exist in a void. Government is a social construct. Government has NO rights that are not granted by its citizens, including the right to exist. The government is US. And We The People are divided… With such a division, is it truly the best decision to bully through to a "solution"?

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Comment by Nick Roussos on September 30, 2009 at 11:59am
@Yankee Cowboy
I disgress, but I didn't mean if you were personally honest, rather, I meant that if one was to honestly examine tax rates, then clearly they are a lifetime low. Poor wording on my part.
Comment by Tanner on September 29, 2009 at 5:52pm
This was a blog post I just did myself, but I thougt it would be appropriate in this discussion as well.

One of the more common arguments I've heard in favor of the government option for healthcare is: Since life is stated as a right, it should be provided to us. It's also one of the more common arguments I've heard in favor of welfare and government housing programs. If that's the case, then shouldn't the government give everyone a gun to fulfill the explicit right to bear arms?

I believe a right is something that you can gain yourself without taking it from anyone else. Government can't give you health care without forcing someone else to provide it for you. Therefore, it's not a right. The opportunity to pursue health care however, is a right.
Comment by Amateur Adventurer on September 29, 2009 at 12:09am
Thank you, Shamus, for neatly packaging the key point of my argument against health care.

One person's rights should not impose upon another's.

Several people have argued that it's OK to pay a fraction of the cost so everyone can health care since it's only a small amount. To me, the amount is unimportant. A dollar or a million; when there is a mandate that I will contribute, I have been denied my right to choose. I have been told that my rights are not as important as those of other people.

Your well-being should not come at the expense of my own unless I forfeit willingly.
Comment by Shamus on September 28, 2009 at 11:31pm
Nice post. Let me edit it for brevity: Rights imply no obligation on another.
If your "right" obliges me to provide you with *anything*, it is not a right.
It is a demand.
Comment by Sir on September 28, 2009 at 11:05pm
But of course it's already a crime for any health care provider to let someone die for being unable to afford treatment. In that sense health care is already universal in the United States.
Comment by Matthew John Luke Silvestri on September 28, 2009 at 10:53pm
You addressed life as a right, but ever so briefly. The right to live is a massive point in the argument for universal health care. Why should one man die of something treatable simply because he's not as rich as another man?

Barring life, I think it also falls under "pursuit of happiness". Many severe illnesses that can be treated not only hinder your happiness, but hinder your ability to better your situation. Can't go to work, can't see your friends, can't do anything, really.

Though, I do feel that you've presented your opinions in a respectful and intelligent manner.
Comment by Cowboy Bob Sorensen on September 28, 2009 at 5:19am
@ Nick, Yes, I am honest, but my honesty — or my manliness — are not in question. Cutting aside all of the implied sniping at our integrity because we disagree on the definitions of rights, I simply think you are very wrong on this, that it is a socialized system, and that taxes will be out of this world. But we should not care because the wealthy pay most of the taxes. The bottom fifty percent pay less than four percent of taxes. When we have to pay more (and the rest of us realize what is happening), there will be a revolution. Of course, since the "wealthy" pay the most in taxes, they may simply go John Gault and really stick it to the government.
Comment by Nick Roussos on September 27, 2009 at 10:33pm
@Yankee Cowboy
I never said that the government created rights. I said they're defined by society and enforced by the government. Think about the difference in the two. And you're right, the constitution doesn't grant a right to health care. I said much the same, but the constitution did lay very specific ways to create new laws and taxes. It is my hope that Congress will use these methods to make healthcare in the US affordable and available to all. Don't worry though, I have great healthcare through my employer, so no I'm not asking you to pay for my healthcare. Furthermore, no proposal on the table today in the US is for a socialized health care system. Not even close, at best, you could try to argue that it's for a socialized health insurance system, but that's probably not very accurate either.

I still believe that rights are defined by societies. The Declaration of Independence stated, "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." Note that it begins with "We hold." Who is this "we?" Our society, whether or not you believe in God, clearly no document from Him has ever sought to define or enforce such rights. Those are both products of our society and our government, therefor whether ultimately they are endowed by their Creator doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that they are ultimately defined and enforced by us, the society.

@Yankee Cowboy (2cd comment to Todd)
If you're really honest, then clearly taxes on all groups have only gone down over the years. Besides, you shouldn't worry too much if you're having trouble paying your rent, most of the proposals that I've seen deal with raising taxes for the wealthiest tax brackets, people who have no problem paying their rent. Also, the figure that I've seen is about 1 trillon dollars--which may seem like a lot, but put into context it is not. That figure is for a TEN year period. That equates to roughly $350 per citizen of the US per year... I think that's a steal.

Finally, I'd like to throw out a different perspective. In my mind, manliness means first taking care of those you are responsible for, your family and friends, but just as importantly helping out anyone else when you are able, simply because you are able. I have consistently had good health insurance since graduating college. I've taken care of my family, and now I want to help out others. We as a country have the opportunity to extend a hand to our neighbors and prevent thousands and thousands of deaths each year. If helping thousands of others out isn't manly enough for you, consider that medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the US among people WITH health insurance.
Comment by Todd Newman on September 27, 2009 at 8:26pm
First off, I have to direct a comment at Yankee Cowboy. Yankee, I have read a ton of your posts and have to say that they are all well thought out and you are obviously and intelligent individual. That being said, I did not appreciate your comment about me earlier in this discussion. Water under the bridge though.

Secondly, I am still having a hard time finding a reason to not pass universal healthcare. There are men and women fighting overseas for our freedom and thousands have given their lives for our freedom. Did they just die for their loved ones, or did they die for us all? Same thing applies to healthcare, should we only pay for ourselves or if we only paid a small fraction should we pay for everyone? I know that if I needed a lung transplant and there was a universal healthcare system I would appreciate it. I also have a feeling others would as well.

I also have to note that I am for universal healthcare as long as our health system does not suffer from it. I feel that everyone who has responded to this has assumed that our healthcare system would suffer and go down the tubes. Maybe a better question would be, are you opposed to universal healthcare as long as you are still provided the same/better treatment you already get?
Comment by Amateur Adventurer on September 27, 2009 at 3:16pm

I am baffled at your insistance that a person cannot appreciate the previously stated concepts but through the admission of society...

Even if I had never met another person, it would be possible for me to conclude that I have freedom of mobility and expression. It may not hold exactly the same meaning without the breadth of contrast that is available to me in reality, but the conclusion could be reached nonetheless.

With no societal reference, I can claim that an item belongs to me, and must be retained. The alternative may be that it could be taken by an animal, or lost, or even given to a diety, if I had come to the conclusion that such exists. I don't, however, have to recognize that something can be taken from me by another person in order to believe it is my property.

Likewise; my free will can be recognized, if not fully appreciated, even without others to compare myself with. I can realize that the choice to go left, or right is mine even though I may not consider the fact that another person would have me make a different choice.

Regarding how best to provide: I'm still unconvinced that it is better for me to cover a small fraction of the expense for a multitude of people that may or may not get adequate care than it is for me to pay the cost, in its entirety, for a select few people who I know will receive all that I intended to provide; these people being chosen by me, having some inherent value to me, and possibly directly beneficial to me.

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