In your Nov. 14 Viewpoints, Barbara Moline argues that health care should be a right. I think it is the thought of people dying in the street that makes us want to believe this. I wish it were that easy. Not only could we declare health care a right but also housing, food and while we are at it why not HBO on my cable? I guess the theory is then these problems would also magically go away with the declaration.
The mistake is to misunderstand what a “right” is and what it is not. Freedom of religion is a right, but forcing someone else to build you a church or temple is not. Freedom of speech is a right, but you cannot break into a radio station and demand time to voice your opinion. If this were true, then your “right” would mean that the government would be able to force plumbers, masons, electricians to build you the church or temple of your choice.
There is not even a “social right” to education. If there is, I have been wasting my time sending tuition checks to a couple of colleges. You don’t “get” to go school till you are 16, you “have” to go to school till you are 16 because we as a society want our citizens to have some minmal qualifications, such as being able to read.
The argument that it is government’s role brings to mind the only perfect tax system ever devised. It was called the “other guy” tax. This is where you don’t pay much and the other guy pays a lot. If government is going to control health care, will they have lotteries to decide who has to spend eight years in medical school? (Get and “A” or be shot.) Who decides which drugs will be investigated or who will be responsible for new medial devices?
Government is seldom the answer but more often the problem. There are certainly some things that can be done, if nothing more than getting rid of the paperwork mess that requires three people processing the paperwork for every one person actually practicing medicine.
Better health care for ourselves and for our families should be one of the motivations to succeed. If not, in the end if we declare too many things “rights,” we run the risk of becoming a nation of Blanche Dubois’ “relying on the kindness of strangers.”
Submitted to WednesdayJournalOnline.com