Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Neither a Right Nor a Privilege

The recently crowned Miss USA, Kára McCullough, was asked during the pageant whether she thought health care was a right or a privilege. Poor girl. Not realizing that the "correct" answer is that it's a "right," she proclaimed it to be a "privilege" and was roundly criticized on social media for her abysmal lack of awareness. She subsequently backtracked, "correcting" her error, switching from "privilege" to "right" the following day, which is too bad.

The actual answer is that health care is neither a right nor a privilege as Ed Morrissey explains at Hot Air:
Taken as a whole, the market for health care services and goods is a commodity, and our failure to treat it as such is what’s making it so dysfunctional.

Health care consists of goods and services produced and delivered by highly specialized providers in exchange for monetary compensation. Overall, it’s a commodity, for which the terms “right” and “privilege” are largely meaningless. In an economic sense, health care is no different than markets for other commodities, such as food, vehicles, fuel, and so on. The ability to purchase goods and services depends on the resources one has for compensation for their delivery in most cases....

Rights, as understood by founders, do not require the transfer of goods and services, but come from the innate nature of each human being. The right to free speech does not confer a right to publication, or to listeners. The right to peaceably assemble does not confer a right to confiscate private property in which to gather or to destroy either. The right to bear arms does not require the government to provide guns or ammunition, and so on. Rights do not require government provision....
Morrissey goes on to explain why health care is not a privilege either:
In our form of self-governance and generally free markets, privilege generally refers to licensed access to certain restricted activities involving public assets. The most common of these is a driver’s license, which confers a privilege to use public roads. One does not need a license to drive exclusively on private roads, as anyone who grew up on a farm or ranch can attest. Doctors and lawyers require licenses to practice their professions, so providing health care can be described as a privilege, but we do not require a government grant to consume health care. Anyone who can provide compensation (directly or through third parties by mutual consent) for care can access it. Some providers — notably those maintained by religious communities, who have recently come under fire — don’t even require compensation for access.
There's more from Morrissey on this topic at the link. One thing he doesn't mention in his very helpful piece, though, is the absurdity, in a secular society in which religious beliefs are supposed to have no bearing on public policy, of any talk of "rights" at all.

On a secular view of society the concept of a right is vacuous. Where does a right come from? What confers it upon us? The answer, given the secular viewpoint, is nowhere and nothing. Rights are artificial, imaginary constructs that we invoke in order to give strong expression to our feelings, but there are no such actual entities as rights unless they're conferred by something higher than ourselves.

It may be argued that certainly governments can confer legal rights as does ours in our Constitution, but this doesn't help those who insist that health care is a right since health care is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution.

If there is a meaningful right to health care it must somehow be a human right conferred upon us, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, by our Creator, but then those who wish to exclude Creators from the public square cannot have recourse to one when they want to assert that health care is a human right.

We don't have human rights because we exist, or because we're rational, or because we're nice people. To the extent that our rights are inherent in us it's only because we're created in the image of God and God loves us. We belong to Him, and that's what gives us value as persons and a right not to be harmed by others. Shove that underlying premise out of our public life and talk of rights is just silly, empty rhetoric.

One wonders why so many secular folk don't see that they're talking nonsense and how they continue to get away with doing it.