Friday, September 12, 2008

Among These Are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

We live in a time where phrases from the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are thrown around glibly to achieve personal and financial ends. A current abuse to our great founding documents is the argument for universal health care, construing it as part of our inalienable, God-given right to life.

To put it in context, this reference to the right to life is part of the rationale for breaking away from Great Britain in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men...

We've discussed the subject in length before, but let's briefly use the Declaration to show why the increasingly-popular right to health care is not truly a right.

  1. The “right” to heath care is not self-evident. It is a head-scratcher. There are many applications of the right to life that are self-evident, for example the right to protect oneself against violent assault to preserve life. However, the right to health care (i.e. compel others to care for you) is not one of these self-evident rights.

  2. The “right” to health care is not endowed by the Creator. Our God-given moral agency encompasses the right to do a great many things. We can clearly see that God endowed us with the ability and right to reason, to speak, and to express our thoughts- in other words the freedom of speech. However, to my knowledge, none of us is endowed with the ability and right to free health care.

  3. The “right” to health care is not unalienable. Unalienable means incapable of being alienated, surrendered or transferred. Clearly, the “right” to health care can be transferred or alienated since it does not currently exist in our country. It is not part of our innate human nature. Parts of our population want that right transferred to us by law. By so doing, they blatantly demonstrate that it is not unalienable.

  4. The “right” to health care interferes with the governmental role of securing true rights. Federally-administered universal health care cannot be instituted without the infringement of other freedoms.

The Declaration establishes that universal access to health care is not a right. However, this doesn't mean that universal health care is an undesirable goal. Resistance to a federally-mandated universal health care is not resistance to the goal of making health care accessible to all mankind, or by definition, universal.

It seems very logical and natural to want all members of the human race to have adequate medical care, regardless of their ability to pay. That concept is already incorporated into modern medical ethics. Many physicians volunteer their time and skill to this end. Many non-physicians volunteer their means to fulfill this goal. This service is ennobling and part of that great right to the pursuit of happiness that our Creator has endowed us with.

However, contrast this humane service to a federally-implemented and mandated universal health care system where. What was once a service becomes literal slavery. The difference may appear subtle- in one case we freely serve because of love of God and men. In the other we are legally compelled to support a dependent population.

This is the difference between freedom and slavery, a difference that the Constitution has perfectly defined for over two hundred years. May we understand that difference and cherish and defend those rights with which our Creator truly has endowed us.

Rusty Scalpel


Anonymous said...

How can we expect to be "free market" physicians when we don't allow those currently treating our wives and children to do the same? I know it is uncomfortable to talk about this, but by giving in to using social problems, we are exacerbating the problem rather than solving it. We cannot use these programs now, but expect others not to use them or not accept their payment when we are the ones providing care and paying taxes. Just a thought that we all should consider.

Rusty Scalpel said...

That's a great comment. We began a response to it but turned it into a post. You can see it as Resistance to Federal Assistance.