Monday, February 18, 2008

On rights and duties

I admit that posting has been light. A week long cruise to the Caribbean, two jobs, and a full time course load will tend to do that. Without further delay, here is the rant of the day:

On the campaign trail in Lewiston, Maine, Hillary Clinton made the following statement:

“I am the only candidate left in this race on either side who is committed to universal health care,” she said. “It is a core value, it is a human right. It is not a privilege.”

In order for something to be a right, it means that a person is entitled to it by merely existing. The right to be free from unreasonable searches, free speech, and others are rights which are due all people. Governments are established to ensure that no one tramples on the rights of others.

Calling health care a right means that a person gets health care whether or not they have the ability to pay for that care. That means that if a person cannot pay for the care that they receive, then one of two things has to happen: either the doctor (and other health care workers- everyone from the maker of the drug to the guy who mops the hospital floor) must work for free, or that people who work and pay taxes must have a portion of their pay taken from them in order to pay for it.

What I don't understand is how one man's right can create a duty upon another. The fact that the money stolen to pay for the health care is spread across a country is irrelevant. Let me use an example:

1 A man meets me as I leave my bank, and threatens me with death if I do not give him money. Is this morally wrong?
2 That same man, it turns out, is robbing me because he makes less than half of what I make. Does that make a difference?
3 That same man gets 5 neighbors who are in similar circumstances to assist him in robbing everyone who leaves my bank. Does that make it better?
4 Those 5 neighbors become a network of 5,000 people all across the state. Is it now OK for them to rob me, and others who make more money than them?
5 What if those 5,000 become a million?

What changed? nothing. Taking money from one person, simply to give to another, in order to correct some perceived inequality of outcome is robbery no matter what spin you put on it.

People in this country have gotten the idea that equality of opportunity means that the result should be equality of outcome, and if this does not happen it means that the successful have somehow cheated and should be punished. Ridiculous.

No comments: