Friday, October 10, 2008

Point of Clarification

A reader by the name of “MarkD” drew a parallel on a forum that I frequently read. (Since I do not own the copyright, I will simply paraphrase here.)

We have a right to keep and bear arms. This right is not granted by our Constitution but instead simply enumerated by it. We may consult with whomever we choose regarding them. With little restriction, we may own any firearm of our choosing bought at a store of our choosing.

However, no where is it written that we may be provided firearms at the expense of others.

We have a right to health care. We may see any doctor we wish and may get any treatment we desire at any place we wish to be treated.

However, no where is it written that we may be provided health care at the expense of others.

We have the right to health care, just like we have the right to eat a meal, own a house, and brush our teeth.

What has been foisted upon us is the notion that we have a right to have others pay for our health care. While this has been primarily from liberals, very nearly the exclusive domain of them, conservatives are not blameless either. The SCHIP program is a good example of conservatives supporting socialized medicine. (* I understand the conservative argument for SCHIP that government does for us what we cannot do for ourselves and that the children of people who will not take care of them fall into that category. In practice though, it socializes medicine and provides for people who will not take care of themselves.)

There was a time in America when the work of others and the fruits of their labor belong to someone else. The issue was hotly debated. More than six hundred thousand were killed to settle that dispute.

Our time, energy, money, and property are for us to consume, save, and give as we individually determine.

*UPDATE - Mark has given me permission to post his comments. I think they are more coherent. (Thank you, Mark)

Lots of folks have weighed in on Obama's "right to healthcare", but bear with me while I explore this using our beloved Second Amendment as a guide.

We all agree that as Americans we have the right to keep and bear arms, meaning we have the right to purchase, own, keep and use weapons for lawful purposes unless there's a good reason (like a felony conviction) why we should be prohibited from exercising that right. I have the right to choose, in consultation with people who know more about weapons than I do, what type of weapon will meet my needs. The government can't (theoretically) tell me that a particular weapon isn't appropriate for me to own.

Nowhere does the Constitution say that we must be provided with weapons at taxpayer expense.

Likewise, if I have a disease I have the right to choose, in consultation with whatever expert I select, a treatment program that meets my needs. I can follow Tom Cruises example and try to heal myself, I can choose holistic medicine, or modern medicine, or just medical care to provide for my comfort until I succumb to the disease. The government can't tell me (for instance) that I'm too old to be treated for a potentially terminal illness and require me to be euthanized.

I don't have the right to have my medical care provided at taxpayer expense.

I think it's an important parallel.


Old Warrior From The Air said...

It is interesting that this poses the question of our investment in government via social security, and a myriad of other taxes not heard of a hundred years ago. At what point do we retreat to a traditionalist economy where the only security for later life was your children? Sometimes I wish it was that simple. The snag is that people had as many children as possible to facilitate their own security in later years, and also to enrich the family. Available resources led to eventual overcrowding, overland use for agriculture. Famine, and other associated bad things happening to our fragile bodies. Like war, etc. We all want to make our own way in the world, and pay our own way. Never to be a burden on our children. How then do we reconcile taking care of those no longer able to work and produce. Right or wrong, we depend on care paid for by others. We made the investment that government has overspent. If you don't think we pay a tax to breathe, think of E.P.A..

Whooops! Where do we go from here?

The Old Warrior from the Air

Weetabix said...

Outstanding thoughts and comparisons.

I've been trying to get my head around a good working definition of "rights" for quite some time. A "right" seems basically, to me, to be freedom from undue interference: right to speech, to assemble, to be free from unwarranted search and seizure, to bear arms, etc. None of those rights assumes a duty on someone else's behalf to provide something to me - just to leave me alone.

Liberals seem to want to create rights that require someone else to provide me something, and consequently for some third person to take that something from the other who has to provide me something. Not the same thing at all, and completely wrong.

Shawn McManus said...


It is very important that we teach our children, friends, people we've just met in the grocery store, etc. the difference between a right and an entitlement.

The latter is to be given privately, the first is intangible.

Seems to me what seems to you is "right". =)

Shawn McManus said...

Old Warrior,

Since I am a conservative, we roll things back bit by bit. While I encourage everyone not to use credit cards, I also realize that if everyone (and every business) cut their cards in half today, the world's economy would tumble in ways that would make this last week seem a trifle.

However, if everyone cut their cards in half over a period of 50 years - or even 20 years - the noticable effects would be dwarfed by the "rampant prosperity" of the populace in general.

(And "yes" I still keep a credit card for business expenses.)

Social Security was never meant to be a retirement program. However, enough people realized that if they are paying into it, they had better be getting something out of it.

(The Cliff Notes version) We start by allowing for part of it to be privatized. We then increase the ages that people receive benefits - not for those about to retire but for those just starting to pay into it. We allow those in their 20's - 50's to pay less if they chose but in return, they do no collect benefits until they are older or they get reduced benefits.

Also, we hang all politicians who would use social security taxes for anything other than social security.

Your question about how we reconcile taking care of those no longer able to work and produce goes to the heart of the purpose of social security: If someone is able to work and produce, that person should not be able to collect social security. That person may still retire or work until death if he chooses. Please note, I'm not advocating that. I am advocating a reduction in scope, in size, and responsibility of what has become "retirement on the taxpayers' dime."

Weetabix said...

If I recall correctly, social security was started when we had a demographically young population and benefits kicked in 5 years or so after the average lifespan. So very few people were covered, and those few probably needed it.

Now we have a demographically old population and benefits become available years before the average lifespan. Huge difference.

My inlaws collect it even though their pensions are more than my income. I don't think that's how the thing was originally meant to work.

Shawn McManus said...

Many years ago, Social Security devolved into a supplementary form of retirement. Given how much is paid into it, people expect something from it. Given how much is collected in social security taxes and how much of those taxes goes to anything but social security, I expect a social security revolt in my lifetime.