Rights were thrust back into the news recently, courtesy of a Miss USA contestant’s answer.
Kara McCullough was asked if she believed health care is a right or a privilege. She confidently answered that it’s a privilege, and the Internet promptly exploded.
What her answer did was revisit the deep misunderstanding people have about what is, and is not, a right.
A simple litmus test can help anyone answer that question.
The question: Does government give it to you?
If the answer is yes, then it is not an unalienable right. It is not something that transcends human creation. If another person or group of people gives you something, it is not a natural right.
For example, apply that test to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All are basic human rights, and none are given to us by government. They are given to us by virtue of the fact that we are human.
Now, apply that test to health care. Health care is a privilege the American people have come to believe they deserve because members of government told them they deserve it. The biggest problem with this is that no true right can be an unalienable one if a government has the power to create it — and take it away. Health care can be denied the moment the government runs out of money, or when non-profit health care exchanges collapse, or when it decides the people don’t deserve it anymore.
Governments can and do try to take away our natural rights, but that’s why America’s founding fathers protected the United States with the Bill of Rights.
Americans have access to many goods and services because our nation is prosperous. Being a living entity in a specific location does not, however, mean you have a right to those goods and services.
People can choose to do nothing with their lives because that is their right, that does not by extension mean government assistance becomes a right because you exercise your free will to do nothing. Wanting something to be provided to you because it is difficult to obtain yourself is not a right.
We have the right to life, not the right to a comfortable one.
There’s also the danger that by calling everything a right (which is only done because the word infers a higher degree of import), the significance of true rights is diminished to the point that government may attempt to regulate those, too.
So, we will call health care what McCullough accurately said it is: a privilege.
She has since semi-walked back her answer after liberals descended upon her in an angry horde, saying she hopes some day health care will be a right, and that due to her having a job, she has “to look at health care like it’s a privilege.”
That can be a hard position to defend — as McCullough found out first hand — only because it’s difficult to fight against the “sick and dying” argument. While humans are logical creatures, we are also emotional, and the image of a dying child will always triumph over a chart showing that we cannot afford government-funded health care.
And as we have all seen with the ACA, once something like health care is believed to be a right, there is no going back until it all collapses under its own weight.
A part of the reason Republicans have a hard time with the current ACA repeal and replacement is because they come across as insensitive and uncaring. That’s not just with health care, either. As the party promoting fiscal responsibility (allegedly), Republicans are perpetually stuck trying to convince Americans that they shouldn’t want the government’s help, and that they don’t actually deserve all the things they have been told they do.
Look at it another way: How can something be a right if it infringes upon another right?
Government health care relies on taking from those with more to give to those with less. In doing so, the government violates one person’s property rights as a means to provide a “right” to someone else.
The counter argument is that it’s fair to make someone with so much reallocate a portion to someone in need, but fairness is not a right, and it’s not the government’s purview to decide what is and is not fair.
As Ramon Lopez wrote following the ACA’s passage in 2010: “Pragmatism cannot be a governing ideology, as it has no natural boundaries.”
If the ACA wasn’t already crumbling because it’s a poorly designed law, it would eventually fail through unsustainability. Raise taxes on the rich and they will either leave or find new loopholes to avoid paying. Raise taxes on businesses and they will fire employees and raise prices. Provide more federal loans to sustain the system with taxpayer money, therefore burdening the same people the government is trying to help.
None of these are effective solutions for America’s very real problems with health care, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to explain when a country’s citizens are led to believe the government is a heavenly body drawing from endless celestial fountains of bounty.
Dependence on government is like taking painkillers for back pain. It starts small. A pill here, a bill there, to make life a little easier. But what if the pain doesn’t go away, and neither do life’s hardships? Suddenly, you’re looking for something stronger to ease the pain. It’s stronger drugs and growing government involvement. Humans are not creatures of moderation, and what once started as a harmless crutch spirals into full-blown dependency, be it drugs or government assistance.
Is there a way to stop the steady march left? Yes, but it requires the monumental task of teaching people how to rely on themselves again. And holding self-reliance up as a virtue. It requires people choosing to reject government’s helping hand and instead struggle and toil for what they want.
It requires taking the hard road, and there’s a reason why the easier path is so well worn.