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Health Care is Not a Right

President Obama believes that health care is a right for every American. This is a perversion of the Founding Fathers’ idea of rights. There is an abundance of problems associated with ObamaCare but not enough attention has been paid to the dangerous philosophy behind the law. The underlying problem with ObamaCare is that too many Americans now see health care as a human right rather than a good.

The Declaration of Independence states that we have an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That doesn’t mean that other people should be forced to sustain our life or make us happy. Many people have a fundamental misunderstanding of the negative rights listed in the founding document. A negative right is a right to not have something done to us. The right to not be killed, the right to not have our property confiscated and the right to not have our speech punished are negative rights.

These legitimate rights do not place obligations on anyone except to not infringe on the rights of others. Otherwise, people are free to do as they please.

Progressives have invented so-called positive rights that are listed nowhere in our founding documents. A positive right is a right to something such as health care, housing, and clothing. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights claims that everyone has a right to health care. Of course, there’s no such thing as free health care. The government has no money of its own which means that it cannot “give” anyone health care without first taking away something from someone else.

There is a big difference between a need and a right. Health care is a basic need that everyone is free to pursue. This means that the government cannot infringe on our right to pursue health care but no one owes us health care. Health care is a good just like food, clothing, and shelter.

Positive rights contradict the very notion of rights. The so-called right to health care infringes on negative rights by imposing forceful obligations on taxpayers and health care providers. What about the right of the taxpayer to keep the fruit of his own labor? Should a doctor ultimately decide who he treats—or should he be forced to treat everyone whether he likes it or not? To say that we have the right to someone else’s time and services takes us back down a dark path in American history.

A right is not something someone gives you- it’s something that no one can take away.

Those who reject the idea that health care is a right are not dismissing the importance of health care. Quite the opposite is true. Health care is too important to be left to the incompetent federal government. Due to a lack of proper incentives, government generally destroys everything they touch. The government has never been able to run anything more efficiently than the for-profit private sector.

Anti-ObamaCare activists are often accused of being selfish, greedy people. That isn’t the reality. ObamaCare was passed under the guise of compassion. But as the late economist Murray Rothbard said, “it is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to pay the cost.” There is nothing virtuous about spending other people’s money without their consent, no matter how well-intentioned the cause. Where’s the compassion for taxpayers—who are forced to foot the bill?

Theft is seen as immoral in practically every society on earth. Most of us would never dream of stealing money from a neighbor to give to someone less fortunate. Why then do some people demand that the government do it for them? Private charities that run on voluntary donations are the best way of helping the poor obtain health care, not government welfare that relies on force and coercion.

President Obama seems to believe that he can simply repeal the economic law of scarcity. There will never be enough of anything to satisfy all human wants. People can complain about the alleged unfairness of reality, but the fact is that health care will always be a scarce good. No laws can change that fact.

Bad ideas have bad consequences. The idea that health care is a right has led to more government involvement in health care. Government now pays for more than 50 percent of all health care costs in the United States. In order to stop government control and increase freedom, Americans must reject the idea of so-called positive rights. Health care is a valuable good that would be better left to the free market.

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