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Subject: Healthcare: a right you don't have. rss

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Pragmatically turning whims into principles
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I believe the currant debated position in the United States can be summed up in a single sentence: Healthcare is right, and as the currant system has failed to adequately protect this right, a new one is needed.

Let us leave aside for a moment the purely pragmatic aspects of this idea and examine the idea of healthcare as a human right. The concept goes at least as far back as FDR, who in his "Economic Bill of Rights" said that a job with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a home, medical care, education, and recreation constituted, in FDR's words, "a second bill of rights." Compare these with the four fundamental rights recognized by the founders of the American Republic were: Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and Property.

Let us for a moment discuss the idea of rights. Where do they come from? The question is too large to discuss here, but let it be enough that rights cannot come from the government if a society is to have a true basis for freedom. What I give, I can limit and control. If I give you a gift, it is my prerogative how large and how expensive it is. If you already have it, I can do neither. Thus if the government gives us our rights, they can decide what they are and how much. As this has been shown in many cases to be destructive to a free society, it is enough for present to say that rights are things that we always have simply by virtue of being people, whether the government interferes or not.

Thus, if a right is something I have even when nobody is around to give it to me, it should be easy to get an idea of what rights are by looking at a lone person. What this person is able to do is at least somewhat indicative of true human rights.

Let us therefore consider such a person. A person who lives by himself, we will note, has the rights listed in the Declaration of independence. He has life because he is alive, and he will continue to have life until someone takes it away from him. He has Liberty because there is no one around to tell him what he cannot do, and will continue to have it until someone comes and tells him what he may not do. He has the right to pursue happiness because he is capable of taking action to please himself, and he will continue to have this right until someone else prevents him. He has the right to property because he has the ability to claim things as his own, and he will continue to have this right until someone comes and takes his property away from him.

Thus we see that in the state of nature, a person has (at the least) a right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. We can do this for many other rights as well. For example, he has the right to believe in any religion he wants, or no religion if that pleases him more. There is no one to prevent him. He has freedom of speech for the same reason. But I will note that he has none of the things the FDR listed in his second bill of rights, unless he works to get them.

This is an important distinction. With the classic rights, he has them until they are removed by some outside force. But the ones in the second bill of rights he will never get unless someone establishes them.

Thus we see an important distinction between “a right to healthcare” or “a right to education” and “a right to life”. You already had a right to life because you already had life. But you did not have a right to healthcare, because health does not exist at all unless someone establishes it.

Let's be clear here. Our hypothetical person has the right to work towards better healthcare, certainly. The capacity already exists in him and will continue to do so until someone or something removes it. So he has the right to work towards healthcare. But healthcare itself is not the right. It is something else. Desirable, yes, useful, certainly, but it is not a right. The same goes for education: A person is able to learn by themselves. But they will not get education without effect. You have the right to build a house, but the house itself you do not have a right to (in a sense).

Thus, we can formulate this idea: Human rights are things which we will have regardless of what the government says. Healthcare, education, a job, housing, and recreation are good things, but they are not rights because they do not exist unless someone establishes them.

We can further note this: That in a free country, the presence of government generally serves to suppress life, liberty, property, etc, with it serves to advance the other things. In other words, a government works by hindering some freedoms so that freedom as a whole can be furthered. But it does not hinder healthcare in order that better healthcare may be established. It simply does not work that that. (This, naturally, instigates the reflection that if freedom comes by the squashing of some right you do have, might not tyranny come from the granting of ones you do not?)

The differences between classic human rights and their more modern counterparts can therefore be stated thusly:

1.Classic humans rights exist in the being of a person until removed by an outside force; their modern additions do not exist in a person's being until established by an outside force.
2.In a free society, classic human rights are partially suppressed so that they can be furthered; the modern version are simply furthered (And to what end? No one will tell me.).

It is therefore manifestly clear in my mind that the rights on the second bill of rights are not rights are all. A job with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, a home, medical care, education, and recreation are all good and desirable. But you do not have a right to them, and you are not entitled to them. Work for them if you like; that is a right you do have. But let us not have any of this nonsense that we are owed them by the government. And if we are not owed it by the government, then why need we this action by the government to grant it?
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Chad Ellis
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I think the only moral rights that are really defensible as rights rather than as moral goods are the ones that involve not being infringed on by others. My right to free speech only imposes on you the obligation not to prevent me from speaking. My right to life only imposes on you the obligation not to kill me or to put my life at undue risk by your actions.

The reason I think these and only these are defensible as rights is that they do not consume anything. Every right has a corresponding obligation, but the right to free assembly doesn't take resources away from anything else, whereas the right to healthcare does.

I agree with you that healthcare (along with a host of other things) do not qualify as rights by this standard.

That said, something can be a non-right and still be a good idea. I don't think anyone has a right to education, but I think providing all children with an education isn't just good for them or their immediate families but for the nation as a whole. While it's true that some people call healthcare a right, I think that most of the actual arguments in favor of reform are not merely that it's a right but that it is in our best interest as a nation.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
That said, something can be a non-right and still be a good idea. I don't think anyone has a right to education, but I think providing all children with an education isn't just good for them or their immediate families but for the nation as a whole. While it's true that some people call healthcare a right, I think that most of the actual arguments in favor of reform are not merely that it's a right but that it is in our best interest as a nation.


Indeed. But is it in the best interest of our nation for the government to do it? Search for flaws in those areas, and I think you will find in many cases that the government is at the root of it. And no surprise- the government is an organization that does good only be doing wrong (and I mean that boths ways).
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Redhawke wrote:

We can further note this: That in a free country, the presence of government generally serves to suppress life, liberty, property, etc, with it serves to advance the other things.

Not generally, but absolutely if your rights argument is consistently applied.
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Let's be clear here. Our hypothetical person has the right to work towards better healthcare, certainly. The capacity already exists in him and will continue to do so until someone or something removes it. So he has the right to work towards healthcare. But healthcare itself is not the right. It is something else. Desirable, yes, useful, certainly, but it is not a right. The same goes for education: A person is able to learn by themselves. But they will not get education without effect. You have the right to build a house, but the house itself you do not have a right to (in a sense).

The same also goes for any current form of government service including military, courts, prisons, police, etc. Just want to make sure you know how radical your position (and mine) is.
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I actually agree with pretty much everything Chad has written (which is a first for me). I think both sides of the aisle agree that is is a good idea. The division (calling the differences a division is like calling the Grand Canyon a pot hole) is in how to accomplish the task at hand. I highly doubt that our fractious Congress will ever answer that one. I highly doubt that King Solomon in all of his wisdom would be able to.
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Redhawke wrote:
et it be enough that rights cannot come from the government if a society is to have a true basis for freedom.
As we say in GeekQuestions...

False assumption alert.
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Chad Ellis
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Redhawke wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
That said, something can be a non-right and still be a good idea. I don't think anyone has a right to education, but I think providing all children with an education isn't just good for them or their immediate families but for the nation as a whole. While it's true that some people call healthcare a right, I think that most of the actual arguments in favor of reform are not merely that it's a right but that it is in our best interest as a nation.


Indeed. But is it in the best interest of our nation for the government to do it? Search for flaws in those areas, and I think you will find in many cases that the government is at the root of it.


I think if you look at almost anything big and complex you'll find problems. Arguing that there are government-caused flaws in education, or highway construction, or the military doesn't mean the government shouldn't be doing them, any more than finding flaws in business or capital markets is an indictment of free enterprise.

Quote:
And no surprise- the government is an organization that does good only be doing wrong (and I mean that boths ways).


Can you clarify what you mean by that?
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Randy Cox wrote:
Redhawke wrote:
et it be enough that rights cannot come from the government if a society is to have a true basis for freedom.
As we say in GeekQuestions...

False assumption alert.


All right, show me a free country where rights are believed not to be something that people have simply by virtue of their being people, and are in fact something distributed by those in power. I know of none.

Quote:
Quote:
And no surprise- the government is an organization that does good only be doing wrong (and I mean that boths ways).


Can you clarify what you mean by that?


It's quite simple. What makes the government different from, say, your local Wal-Mart? Think about that for a minute.

The answer is this: Let's say that I send a letter to Wal-mart informing them that I do not intend to shop there any more. Let's say Wal-mart drags me into court to make me buy what they are selling. Is that right?

Now let's say I send a letter to the IRS informing them that I do not intend to pay my taxes this year. And they, too, drag me before a court to make me pay. Is that right?

Wal-mart does not have the right to put me before court for refusing to buy from them. The IRS does.

What does this tell us about government? Put simply, it unmasks a truth about government: It is an organization that is allowed to use force on people who have not harmed anyone. It can, by force, compel me to obey it's rules even when I have done nothing wrong. Walmart cannot.

Now, the reason most entities are unable to exercise force against persons who have not harmed others is moral. For them to do so violates my rights (it is also pragmatic, but it's pragmatic because it is moral). So the government is excused from this moral rule that applies to everyone else.

The government thus has one thing that separates from other organizations: not all moral rules apply to it. It can force me to comply with it's regulations. And yes, that can be okay. But it is not ideal. In other words, the really distinctive thing about the government is that it is okay for it to do what is wrong for everyone else.

Take this example. It is good to defend Liberty against outside invasion. It is not good to fight wars. The government is allowed to right wars, and it can be moral for the government to do so. It is allowed to do what is wrong. It is doing something good, but only by doing things less than ideal.

It is bad to take away freedom from another person. It is good to protect the freedom of others. When we throw people in jail, we violate their rights (a bad thing) to protect the rights of others (a good thing).

Thus, the government, by its nature, does many things that would be wrong for any other individual. And very often it's okay. But we must be careful. For if not even the smallest beneficial government program must be funded by the taking of money from the people by the threat of force (a thing we call theft unless the person with the gun is an IRS agent), then how can any larger program escape dealing still greater harm?

So my objection is, in the end, not so much one of practical things (I have not read the entire bill to thus comment on it), but one of principle. What sort of people dare we entrust the right to wrong with? What kind of things dare we let them do what is wrong in?

Whenever the government acts, it does so by doing wrong. Wrong poisons its every action. I do not trust them to carry out any action rightly; the government was never designed to do things that way. It is a blunt instrument, one built solely to do harm. Yes, it can harm and have good come from it. But Liberty of all in a free country comes through the harm of many. And if it is by harm that freedom is established, I think we ought to be most wary that attempts to do good do not enthrone tyranny. With the government we do not have the luxury of expecting the best- we must assume the absolute worst, and demand continually that it account for itself thusly.
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A guy on the internet said that they are not rights, so I guess that we must amend a bunch of constitutions then.

Sometimes horses get so high, the air gets pretty thin when one is riding them.
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Chad Ellis
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Quote:
Quote:
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And no surprise- the government is an organization that does good only be doing wrong (and I mean that boths ways).


Can you clarify what you mean by that?


It's quite simple. What makes the government different from, say, your local Wal-Mart? Think about that for a minute.


Perhaps it's just a question of personal style, but telling other people to "think about that for a minute" comes across as pretty patronizing.

You have a fairly straightforward point -- that governments are exempt from some basic rules that apply to non-governments. That point wasn't clear from "does good only by doing wrong". I appreciate the explanation but can do without the superior tone (while recognizing that it may not have been intended).
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chiddler wrote:
Moral rights are useless (and subjective), only legal rights have any substance.


What do you mean?

Quote:
I'm not American, and I do have a legal right to healthcare. You opinion on whether I SHOULD have such a right is not a fact, the law IS a fact, and hence means a billion times more than your opinion.


Your government may give you healthcare. But you do not have a right to it in the same way you have a right to life and liberty.

hibikir wrote:
A guy on the internet said that they are not rights, so I guess that we must amend a bunch of constitutions then.

Sometimes horses get so high, the air gets pretty thin when one is riding them.


Then show us that it is air they stand upon, and not a bridge that is unseen because we hold our noses too high. I have attempted to prove my opinion; kindly attempt to prove yours.
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[q="Chad_Ellis"]
Quote:
Perhaps it's just a question of personal style, but telling other people to "think about that for a minute" comes across as pretty patronizing.

You have a fairly straightforward point -- that governments are exempt from some basic rules that apply to non-governments. That point wasn't clear from "does good only by doing wrong". I appreciate the explanation but can do without the superior tone (while recognizing that it may not have been intended).


Acknowledged. Future posts will be edited to exclude said mannerisms.
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Redhawke wrote:
chiddler wrote:
Moral rights are useless (and subjective), only legal rights have any substance.


What do you mean?


Moral rights are inherently matters of opinion. I do think there is a useful distinction between rights that impose only the obligation not to infringe (e.g. the right to free speech) vs. those that impose an obligation to consume resources (e.g. the right to education) but at the end of the day any assertion of a moral right is just an opinion.

Legal rights are defined and thus objective.

Quote:
Quote:
I'm not American, and I do have a legal right to healthcare. You opinion on whether I SHOULD have such a right is not a fact, the law IS a fact, and hence means a billion times more than your opinion.


Your government may give you healthcare. But you do not have a right to it in the same way you have a right to life and liberty.


In the legal sense, he does, just as in the legal sense someone in China does not have the legal right to freedom of speech.
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chiddler wrote:
All of my rights are identical in nature. They are rights I am granted by law.


That's the difference. I believe that rights are not "granted" by any human institution at all. You have them because you are a person, and for no other reason.

The issue you raise is that by saying because people can take away my rights, I must not have them. But that seems mere nonsense. I can cut off your arm, but that doesn't mean you must not have an arm.

Quote:
The trouble with your OP is the statement that X is a right 'you don't have', as a statement of fact, when what you actually meant was:

"Healthcare is not a right specifically enumerated in the US Constitution or Bill of Rights, and I personally believe it is not a universal moral right."

Of these 2 points, the first is true, but not relevant to those of us who are not american, and you assumption that the internet is America is one you need to drop, and the seond is merely your opinion, and you need to stop presenting it as a fact.


Do you believe there is no difference between a right to healthcare and a right to free speech?

Quote:
I'd also like to add that if you deny someone healthcare it can be argued that you are denying them the right to life, and hence it IS a moral right. Most Western countries accept that reasoning.


Merely because taking away something from someone is wrong, does it always follow that giving them more of it is right?
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DCAnderson wrote:
I've heard this circular argument before, and I want someone to actually answer this:

Where do our Moral Rights come from?


There are 3 possibilities:

1. Given by a deity
2. Given by popular opinion
3. Growing out of some innate aspect of human nature.

Of the two, I think only the first ends up giving any real "moral rights" at all, however.

Quote:
Could you give me any indication that these Rights come from anywhere but people coming together and deciding what our Rights ought to be, but rather that they actually figured out what our Rights already were before formalizing it into a legal document?


I think the example of the lone person in the wood is a start. They have certain rights until someone or something comes and removes them.
 
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Chiddler, We're playing with two definitions of "have". Perhaps we should say "entitled to" (me) and "legally granted" (you).

Now then, here's what I read you as saying: Because it is possible for others to legally remove certain rights, we are not entitled to any unless they are granted.

Is this correct?

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chiddler wrote:
Those are not 'rights' in any sense that most people would understand, they are merely capabilities. The very concept of rights requires multiple actors to exist at all.


Doesn't that fit with the idea of rights you espouse?
 
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Redhawke wrote:
I believe the currant debated position in the United States can be summed up in a single sentence: Healthcare is right, and as the currant system has failed to adequately protect this right, a new one is needed.


Could not a right to health care grow from "Duty to Rescue"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_rescue

If you are dying and others could help you with a small amount of aid and at no risk to themselves, then they have a duty to do so.

So then "small amount" becomes the crux. Clearly weeks of chemo therapy wouldn't apply. But setting a broken leg probably would. In fact, a lot of hospitals are required to help people who show up (effectively creating a right to health care and a very expensive national back door national health care system).
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Chad Ellis
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Redhawke wrote:
DCAnderson wrote:
I've heard this circular argument before, and I want someone to actually answer this:

Where do our Moral Rights come from?


There are 3 possibilities:

1. Given by a deity
2. Given by popular opinion
3. Growing out of some innate aspect of human nature.

Of the two, I think only the first ends up giving any real "moral rights" at all, however.


Haven't you just reversed yourself? In the OP (and later in this very post) you draw a distinction between moral rights you agree with and those you don't; the distinction was (if I understood you correctly) that we have even if alone, i.e. a right is something one has without anyone to give it to them.

If "God says X is a right" is the reason I have a right to free speech, then why wouldn't I have a right to healthcare or sex on demand or anything else if God says so?

I tend to agree with Bentham that moral rights are nonsense on stilts, but I do think a meaningful distinction can be drawn between rights as you've done here. Rather than look to someone (whether God or the State) to justify them, however, I think it makes more sense to look at the resulting obligation.

Some rights impose only an obligation that you not do something to me or mine. As you put it, we have these rights when we're alone. Other rights require you to work or put up other resources in order to meet them. I think a simpler case can be made that you're morally obligated not to hit me without provocation or to prevent me from mutually consensual interactions with others than that you're morally obligated to give me food.

At the end of the day, however, it's just a matter of opinion. If I'm alone I am not annoyed; does that mean that I have a moral right not to be annoyed? If not, why do you have an obligation not to kill me but not one not to annoy me? And where is the line drawn? A lot of people have asserted that moral rights are somehow objective or absolute but none with success -- which should not be surprising since any moral assertion must ultimately rest on one or more unprovable axioms.
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I first encountered the philosophical basis for the concept of inherent rights studying the ideas behind the wording of the US's declaration of independence. I think chiddler is in practice correct to an extent, but I think the OP's notion of inalienable inherent rights has a valid basis even if I disagree its formulation.

De facto rights are indeed socially agreed upon privileges with concomitant responsibilities given to individuals-- and indeed not given to all people equally. That is part of how law works. Nevertheless, I do think immoral laws should be resisted. For example, were a law passed which says a particular group of people such as blacks, gays or self-identified Liberals cannot vote (or own property etc.) then this law is unjust and those people deserve the same rights as everyone else generally.

As much as we agree on right socially and enshrine them in law, some vague notion of morality does need to underlie and restrict the laws made about what rights people or gov't do or do not have. The basis of morality will vary from person to person, but something people can generally agree on as "moral" does need to come into play.
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DCAnderson wrote:


For the lone person in the woods, rights are meaningless since there would be no one to infringe on them anyway. The concept of Rights can not even exist without human interaction.

What does a Right to Free Speech for instance matter to lone dude in the woods? Who is he going to express his Right to Free Speech on anyway?

Rights only exist as a framework for human interaction.
That is perfectly wrong. The inalienable rights we are endowed with by our creator are those very things we can do naturally quite irrespective of anyone else. Those rights as famously articulated by our founders are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as if you need me to point that out. These right are innately ours. They depend on no one else. These right are fundamentally different than the supposed rights enumerated by progressives for about a century. There is no innate right to health care, housing, food, employment, etc. Our innate right is to pursue these things for ourselves. There is a massive fundamental difference. The two ideas must not be confused.

Chads point is consistent with this. My difference with him is over the wisdom of the idea. He is wrong however to not recognize that progressives have been couching their agenda in terms of rights for decades at least.
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maxo-texas wrote:

Could not a right to health care grow from "Duty to Rescue"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_to_rescue

If you are dying and others could help you with a small amount of aid and at no risk to themselves, then they have a duty to do so.

So then "small amount" becomes the crux. Clearly weeks of chemo therapy wouldn't apply. But setting a broken leg probably would. In fact, a lot of hospitals are required to help people who show up (effectively creating a right to health care and a very expensive national back door national health care system).


Lots of people contributing small amounts easily pays for chemo. This is the very foundation of universal healthcare.
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Wrayman wrote:
That is perfectly wrong. The inalienable rights we are endowed with by our creator are those very things we can do naturally quite irrespective of anyone else.



I'm very happy to hear that masturbation is my inalienable right.
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Deem deem deem
It is so much easier than actually voting, isn't it?
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