Why Socialist Bernie Sanders Is Wrong about Health Care Being a Human Right
"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." ~Alexis de Tocqueville
Last week, National Nurses United (NNU) hosted a rally to celebrate the anniversary of Medicare. During the rally, NNU took the opportunity to host Independent-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Sander’s speech to the crowd shed further light on his socialist views on the future of health care in the United States.
In his speech, Sanders stated that “health care is a right, not a privilege of all Americans", which is far from the truth. The debate over whether or not the right to life correlates with the right to health care has been an issue since the late 1800’s. The truth of the matter is that while you do have the right to your life (meaning no one has the right to murder you, force you into slavery, dictate the terms of your existence through coercion or forced aggression), this right is what is known to philosophers as a negative right; while the right to purchase and receive health care is a positive right. First, we must define what is a right, before we go any further.
According to the Markkula Institute for Applied Ethics:
" What is a right? A right is a justified claim on others. For example, if I have a right to freedom, then I have a justified claim to be left alone by others. Turned around, I can say that others have a duty or responsibility to leave me alone. If I have a right to an education, then I have a justified claim to be provided with an education by society."
Based on that definition, a negative right is a claim against being interfered with; while a positive right is a claim that requires positive action on the part of someone else. The American system is based on the idea that we have negative rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but not positive claims on others. For example, you have the right to worship as you please without interference (a negative right) but you don’t have the right to force someone else to use their labor or money to accommodate you in your worship (a positive right). Philosophy expert Leonard Piekoff, PH.D touched on this issue by showing a more exaggerated example of what people feel they have the right to:
"…the American viewpoint continues, are the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. That’s all. According to the Founding Fathers, we are not born with a right to a trip to Disneyland, or a meal at Mcdonald’s, or a kidney dialysis (nor with the 18th-century equivalent of these things). We have certain specific rights [mentioned in the Bill of Rights]—and only these."
Thus the pretense of Sanders’ statement is entirely incorrect, since no one owes you luxury cars, food, clothes, or health care. For the sake of driving this point home even further, voters in the upcoming election must realize that it is fundamentally wrong to keep anything that you have not created that others need to survive. Socialized health care is not "compulsory charity" as Democrats and Socialists (if there is any difference between the two anymore) would guilt you into believing. Its taking the financial resources of individuals to give to someone else, and in turn giving many people a poor product they didn’t want to have in the first place.
An important concept to consider is that, if Americans are so focused on patient access and protection through medical coverage, who will look out for the best interest of the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals? After all, medicine is something that many students throughout the nation spend incredibly large amounts of money and many hours committing themselves to getting their degrees and becoming medical services professionals. So the greater question should be whether or not you have a right to dictate the uses of their skills and talents. Medical practices are like any other commodity or service, they come with a very real costs since doctors become doctors not simply because they just want to help people, but because they want to make a profit and a living in the process of doing so. If there isn’t a way to make a living and earn a humble profit, doctors and other medical professionals would be going against their own rational self-interest by entering the profession. A looming issue with the expansion of ObamaCare is the drastic shortage in doctors the US is facing. According to a recent report covering this disturbing fact:
"… The analysis finds that exchange plan networks include 42 percent fewer oncology and cardiology specialists; 32 percent fewer mental health and primary care providers; and 24 percent fewer hospitals. Importantly, care provided by out-of-network providers does not count toward the out-of-pocket limits put in place by the ACA."
What this shows is that people are as obligated to give you health care as much as they are obligated to give you their efforts and labor as a form of economic indentured servitude. A free market approach to health care reform is the best way to allocate services and products to patients, but also looks out for health care providers so that they can work to satisfy customers while satisfying their bottom line.
In conclusion, if we all have the right to health care, then using that logic we should all have the right to drive and own a Mercedes.