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You Have No Right to Violate My Rights

Adam Murdock, MD
Campaign For Liberty
April 14, 2010

All the problems related to medical care can be traced to a revised and perverse new definition of human rights. No slogan or idea has been used with greater detriment and influence than implying that there is a right to ‘free’ healthcare. The problem with this slogan is that it takes advantage of the general public’s naïve understanding and sympathy for human rights and combines it with an emotional subject such as healthcare.

Using this slogan as a backdrop, political opportunists seeking to impose their version of universal healthcare, trot out tragic examples of individuals, who ‘deprived’ of their right to healthcare, will be left to suffer and die. They use these rare examples to argue that if only government provided care for everyone then these people would be provided the care they need.

Over the last century, social engineers have also trotted out images of the homeless in the streets to justify total wealth transfer through taxation and the creation of government social programs. Likewise, the Marxist revolution in the Soviet Union and elsewhere appealed to the ‘oppressed’ with promises of bread and prosperity for the masses. However, in practice the Marxist ideal quickly devolved into endless lines ups for, not bread, but crumbs and not prosperity, but poverty. The promise and practice of universalism in all its forms, including healthcare, proved to be untenable and a gigantic failure.

Likewise, a modern government movement to impose universal healthcare will only provide figurative ‘crumbs’ of care rationed out to a long line of poverty stricken conditioned citizens. Indeed, the utopia envisioned by healthcare engineers will quickly transform into a Soviet-style failure.

In order to derail this program before it takes effect, it is critical to understand the fallacy of the slogan that implies a right to free healthcare. The definition of “rights,” as proposed by the Founders, are not random claims that individuals demand. Rational “natural rights” are not based on wants or even perceived needs. I cannot simply say that since my neighbor owns a luxury car, that I should have a ‘right’ to the same car. Most people can easily see that this proposition and use of the word ‘right’ is ludicrous.

What then is a true definition of a ‘right’?

Rights are principles that sanction freedom of the individual to serve his/her own life. Rational rights do not provide the slovenly things they don’t deserve and never worked work, but rather protect the opportunity to obtain what one has worked for or is willing to pay for. Natural rights exist so that the freedom of the individual to do as they please can be protected against the tyranny of the majority, coercion of government, or any other group that would seek to initiate physical force against him. Rational rights prevent the actions of others that would prevent people from taking actions necessary to sustain their lives. Therefore, rights act as a prohibition to the society and government. These rights in effect serve to say that nobody shall interfere where people seek to serve their own lives. In addition, it is self-evident that the individual who is serving his own life shall not infringe upon the rights of others. No individual shall initiate physical force to curtail the rights of another. Therefore, it follows that actions enlisted of others must be obtained voluntarily because no individual has the right to create a right that would involve the loss of a right or impose physical coercion of another individual. There is no such thing as a right to violate other’s rights.

As an example, let us look at the right to freely practice religion as codified in the Constitution. This right means that individuals are free to gather and practice their religious beliefs without the government or others infringing. However, if a certain group of religious individuals were to declare their particular belief, the only true belief, and then try to enforce membership into their church by law, then they would be infringing upon the rights of others to freely worship.

What about a home? Do I have a right to a home? The answer is no. This is because in order to ‘guarantee’ housing to every individual, the government must necessarily confiscate other people’s ability to obtain housing by stealing their money through taxation. This amounts to a denial of the true right to housing by the government. So if we don’t have a right to a home, then what rights do we have related to housing? A real right to housing means that we have the right to obtain the materials to build a house or to purchase a house as we are able. A true violation of a person’s right to housing occurs when they have the means and desire to purchase housing but are prevented from doing so by physical force of government or other individuals. This happens in the case of zoning regulations or arbitrary building codes which limit locations to build and also increase costs. These regulations therefore restrict a person’s right to housing by preventing building where it otherwise would have occurred and by making homes unaffordable.

What about employment? Do I have a right to a job? You might guess that the answer is no. An individual does not have a right to a job. He does have a right to accept a job that has been freely offered by employers. His right to employment is violated when an employer would seek to hire a person but is prevented from doing so. For example, when hiring quotas prevent hiring of an employee, then their rights to employment have been violated. Other infractions of the right to employment happen when governments impose pro-union legislation or minimum-wage laws which artificially raise wage rates. Every increase in the wage lowers the demand for labor as the cost of labor increases. In effect, people are robbed of jobs that otherwise would have been available had they not been priced out of the market.

Likewise, there exists no right to medical care per say. However, there is a right to purchase medical care from a willing provider. One’s right to medical care is removed when a person is prevented from purchasing medical care that would have otherwise been available. This right is violated by licensing legislation and regulations that restrict access and raise the cost of medical care.

This rational concept of rights contrasts with the modern conception of rights based on needs and wants. This new modern definition fails to recognize that acknowledging rights based on needs and wants provides new rights to some and removes rights from others, therefore violating the nature of rights. These ‘rights’ are therefore revealed as nothing more than entitlements.

An alleged right to health care necessarily implies forcing doctors, nurses, and hospitals to treat people against their will and imposes forced taxation on the general population to cover the cost. Thus, this ‘right’ to healthcare boils down to a right to confiscate and enslave others. Therefore, the supposed right to healthcare contradicts the original meaning and intent of natural rights which existed to prohibit these kind of infractions on an individuals freedom.

The recent passage of the ‘healthcare reform bill’ reveals this truth. In order to extend care to some 30 million new individuals, the federal government will impose over a dozen new taxes confiscating hundreds of billions of dollars from productive citizens to support a small minority. As Sen. Baucus of Montana recently revealed, this health care bill is nothing more than a giant wealth transfer.

This action will restrict the healthcare rights of these individuals as they will no longer be able to afford the healthcare plans that they previously were willing to pay for. In addition, a mandate to obtain health insurance removes the freedom of the individual to decide the manner in which they will incur healthcare costs. In essence, this bill amounts to nothing more than entitlement program that will remove the healthcare rights of the vast majority of the population.

A true understanding of ‘natural rights’ is required in order to make sense of the insanity in Washington. When viewed through the proper lenses it is easy to understand that virtually everything that Washington does in the name of rights is really about removing rights and providing entitlements in order to bribe the population. Unfortunately, as the population of looters increases the population of producers will decline, which will lead to an inevitable collapse. The only hope we have is to support policies and officials that have this basic understanding and are willing to support the longevity of the nation over their own self interest. In the end, we have to have the courage to say to our neighbors, friends, and political leaders that they don’t have a right to violate our rights.

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