Health care a ‘human right’? Says who?

“Medical coverage is a human right.”

Says who?

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?

PMF: Yes.

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. 

10 thoughts on “Health care a ‘human right’? Says who?”

    You pretty much got it right again. It is the luck of the draw that we are here in the best country in the world. How do I know this Well, I used to travel quite a bit, so I saw for myself. Then, I talk to people who come from another country. They’re here. What does that tell you.
    Did you ever watch the T.V. show, Naked and Afraid ? Get your mind out of the gutter. Forget the fact that two consenting adults, one male and one female, start out naked. Each is given a tool of their choice, and sometimes the show adds an extra much needed item. The point of the show, is to prove that when you are left on your own, in most cases, you will survive. You use the skills that you have developed over the years, and you rely on team work.
    WOOPS ! What did I just say ?!? Teamwork ! Individual resources ! So much for socialism and handout …………

  2. Thanks for this Stu! I have been wondering for years why health care is a right as opposed to something that I need to pay for, like most everything else in life. Great insight and everyone needs to get some personal responsibility.

  3. No one ever went wrong underestimating the intelligence of the American voter. When Bernie Sanders runs for president, let us see how many Americans vote for Bernie’s preaching that YOU owe SOMEONE ELSE all those things the SOMEONE ELSE is too lazy or stupid or incompetent to provide for himself. Health care is no more of a ‘right’ than is, say, transportation. People have a NEED to get around (to the store, the doctor, etc.), which means they can posit the ‘right’ to transportation (say, a car). Where does the ‘rights’ parade end?

  4. Neither Denmark nor Sweden is “Socialist”.
    Who says not? They do! The Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers of both countries have publicly rebutted Sander’s characterization them as “socialist”
    Bernie Sanders, and those who use these 2 countries as examples of “Socialism working” need to get their information updated.
    Sweden, did use the Socialist model during the 60’s an 70’s. As a result a great deal of their creative talent, such as IKEA, left the country. Their economy stagnated. Sweden abandoned the model in 1980.
    A country that provides Universal Heath Care, as both countries do, does not necessarily mean their economies are socialist. Memo to Bernie; Both countries have private healthy insurance. (It is comparatively expensive to the government plan but it is not illegal as Sanders would make it here.)
    No tangible commodity (like it or not, that’s what medical care is) is a “right”. Tangible commodities have to be provided by someone, and to have a “right”: to them is an immoral claim on the labor of others (not just doctors,nurses, hospital employees etc). It’s indentured servitude under a different name.
    Just because you “need” it gives you no “right” to it.
    Private property IS a right. Our constitution says so. You have the right of any commodity you create, or pay for.
    You have no “right” to it.

    1. Excellent comment. By pure definition, Bernie isn’t a socialist, he believes in private ownership, but socialism takes many forms and I generally stay away from discussions of it. Scandinavia is “socialistic,” I think it’s fair to say.

  5. Stu – you were more than Captain Obvious on this one. Great article! And, BTW, Uncle Bernie is not socialistic. He is a communist, pure and simple, which he just proved, again, in the SC town meetings.

  6. As amusing as Bernie can be, he’s terribly selective about facts. I live in Canada. We have universal medicare. It is NOT FREE. Every two weeks my pay check includes a significant chunk for the taxman. A good part of that pays for medicare. When I see the doc, or get a prescription, or need hospital care, I don’t get a bill – because I already paid through my taxes. This is a system I like, and that 80 percent of Canadians like. But just because it works in Canada doesn’t mean it would work in the US. You’re a different country and different culture. You need to do what works best for you. Same as us Canucks. Bernie tends to overlook things like culture. It’s a fundamental error, but one the whacky left regularly makes.

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