“Medical coverage is a human right.”
Most Democratic candidates. Maybe most Democrats. They talk as if it’s real, but it is aspirational, as make believe as Cinderella.
Where does that notion come from?
Not from our founding documents. The Declaration promised life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Real Rights are in the Constitution, and those mostly limit government power, they do not expand it.
FDR added Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear.
Does 1941’s Freedom from Want translate to 2020’s medical care is a human right?
The UN has a list of 30 human rights, none being medical care, although one calls for an “adequate” standard of living. Does that become the root of the health care “right”?
A couple of years ago I had a discussion about human rights with a progressive millennium friend. (Yes, I have a progressive millennium friend, hereafter PMF.)
Because he comes from a different generation, he has different ideas. He believes health care is a human right. Here’s a rough recreation of our conversation:
ME: Why is health care a human right?
PMF: Because people need health care.
ME: People also need shelter. Should government provide housing?
ME: Are you serious?
PMF: Yes. Government provides education, why not housing?
ME: People need food to survive. Is food a human right?
PMF: Of course.
ME: Is that dinner at the Palm or groceries at Acme? How about clothing, people can’t go naked, is that also a right?
PMF: Why not?
ME: Can it be designer, or only off the rack?
PMF: You’re being silly.
I was being silly, but I was also being serious. Many act as if saying something makes it true. What we have here is a “want,” not a “right.”
My generation, with some exceptions, believes in personal responsibility. I am responsible for what I do, what I fail to do, the welfare of myself and my family.
My friend believes in personal responsibility, he would say, but also in government responsibility for people who fail to prepare themselves for life, or who are incapable of caring for themselves.
In the case of genuine need, I’m on board. But I’ve been around long enough to know there is an X Factor — grifters who can, but won’t, work. They are parasites, skimming the hard work of others.
And those people love the never-ending expansion of “rights.” The more “rights,” the less responsibility.
The current Democratic field is loaded with candidates engaged in a competitive giveaway — free stuff.
Bernie Sanders is synonymous with free stuff and that’s why he is vastly more popular with grandchildren than with the grandparents who are Sanders’ age. Many people my age sense danger in a movement that throws candy to the masses. Weren’t bread and circuses “rights” for Romans?
Sanders has free higher education in his Santa sack, which means higher taxes. Like him, Elizabeth Warren would cancel all student debt, which means transferring debt from them to you, assuming you are above the poverty line.
Let’s imagine America offered cradle-to-grave “rights.” Where would the trillions of dollars come from? If you stripped the rich naked, and vacuumed Wall Street, I don’t think there’s enough money there to pay the bills.
Maybe there is, but it is not a one-time expense. The giveaway programs are ongoing, but after you pick the rich clean once, you can’t do it again. There is nothing left.
OK, let’s pretend the money is there, and it magically replenishes itself. What are possible consequences?
For two centuries, Americans — under free enterprise and capitalism — unleashed a torrent of inventions.
What has, say, socialist Sweden innovated?
Competition sparks a creativity that has given us everything from the light bulb to computer operating systems. The U.S. has a restless energy that might evaporate if everyone became as comfortable as the Danes.
What has Denmark given the world since Vikings and pastry?
How long does it take for a zoo tiger to lose the will and ability to hunt for its own food? Why should it — when the zookeeper provides food? I don’t have to explain this metaphor, do I?
When rights outnumber responsibilities you have reshaped your culture.
And, for me, this change is not progress.