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Bogus Rights ?
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Feb 23 14:10:00 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Speaking of rights on another thread, I thought I'd throw this one out there for discussion:

Bogus rights
By Walter E. Williams

Feb 8, 2006

Do people have a right to medical treatment whether or not they can pay? What about a right to food or decent housing? Would a U.S. Supreme Court justice hold that these are rights just like those enumerated in our Bill of Rights? In order to have any hope of coherently answering these questions, we have to decide what is a right. The way our Constitution's framers used the term, a right is something that exists simultaneously among people and imposes no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech, or freedom to travel, is something we all simultaneously possess. My right to free speech or freedom to travel imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. In other words, my exercising my right to speech or travel requires absolutely nothing from you and in no way diminishes any of your rights.

Contrast that vision of a right to so-called rights to medical care, food or decent housing, independent of whether a person can pay. Those are not rights in the sense that free speech and freedom of travel are rights. If it is said that a person has rights to medical care, food and housing, and has no means of paying, how does he enjoy them? There's no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy who provides them. You say, "The Congress provides for those rights." Not quite. Congress does not have any resources of its very own. The only way Congress can give one American something is to first, through the use of intimidation, threats and coercion, take it from another American. So-called rights to medical care, food and decent housing impose an obligation on some other American who, through the tax code, must be denied his right to his earnings. In other words, when Congress gives one American a right to something he didn't earn, it takes away the right of another American to something he did earn.

If this bogus concept of rights were applied to free speech rights and freedom to travel, my free speech rights would impose financial obligations on others to provide me with an auditorium and microphone. My right to travel freely would require that the government take the earnings of others to provide me with airplane tickets and hotel accommodations.

Philosopher John Locke's vision of natural law guided the founders of our nation. Our Declaration of Independence expresses that vision, declaring, "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." Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don't have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

Three-fifths to two-thirds of the federal budget consists of taking property from one American and giving it to another. Were a private person to do the same thing, we'd call it theft. When government does it, we euphemistically call it income redistribution, but that's exactly what thieves do -- redistribute income. Income redistribution not only betrays the founders' vision, it's a sin in the eyes of God. I'm guessing that when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," I'm sure he didn't mean "thou shalt not steal unless there was a majority vote in Congress."

The real tragedy for our nation is that any politician who holds the values of liberty that our founders held would be soundly defeated in today's political arena.



Since 1980, Dr. Williams has served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics.



 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 15:28:14 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I agree with the reasoning behind it, and find it to be an interesting take on things.

However, I do think that medical care would be a right, even if it was only to assure the emotional wellbeing of doctors.

In theory he's right, in practice it's another thing.



If you follow his logic (and if you just pick what you want to hear, you're doing the same thing he's denouncing) taxes should be completely disbanded or voluntary.

I wonder, who's going to pay for roads and other commodities.

And how will the US army stay alive


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:06:49 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>I agree with the reasoning behind it, and find it to be an interesting take on things.
>
>However, I do think that medical care would be a right, even if it was only to assure the emotional wellbeing of doctors.
>
>In theory he's right, in practice it's another thing.
>
>
>
>If you follow his logic (and if you just pick what you want to hear, you're doing the same thing he's denouncing) taxes should be completely disbanded or voluntary.
>
>I wonder, who's going to pay for roads and other commodities.
>
>And how will the US army stay alive
>
Did you miss this part :
"Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don't have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government".



 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:09:52 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>>
>If you follow his logic (and if you just pick what you want to hear, you're doing the same thing he's denouncing) taxes should be completely disbanded or voluntary.
>
No, not disbanded or voluntary, he is against what the taxes are spent on.


 
Beep Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:16:34 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I am not sure what to say. It seems to make sense, but i disagree and think that people have a right to food and healthcare.
It seems odd, you could read into what he says as:
If this bogus concept of rights were applied to freedom to travel, my right to travel freely would require that the government take the earnings of others to provide me a road to travel on.
erm.. ok...

I can't talk much about politics, but with reference to the english philosopher John Locke, he isn't actually as big an influence on the declaration than previously thought. He is mentioned but only minroly. there are a lot of other philosophers who contribute more than he.


 
Beep Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:20:49 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Christophe said:
>>>
>>If you follow his logic (and if you just pick what you want to hear, you're doing the same thing he's denouncing) taxes should be completely disbanded or voluntary.
>>
>No, not disbanded or voluntary, he is against what the taxes are spent on.

But how can he say that one thing is a right to be spent on and the other is not. It seems to me that having a right to be alive is more/as important as free speach, and food and healthcare for me come under the right to be alive.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:25:59 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Beep said:
>ifihadahif said:
>>Christophe said:
>>>>
>>>If you follow his logic (and if you just pick what you want to hear, you're doing the same thing he's denouncing) taxes should be completely disbanded or voluntary.
>>>
>>No, not disbanded or voluntary, he is against what the taxes are spent on.
>
>But how can he say that one thing is a right to be spent on and the other is not. It seems to me that having a right to be alive is more/as important as free speach, and food and healthcare for me come under the right to be alive.
>
Maybe you should go back and read his definition of what a "right" is.


 
Beep Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:35:40 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  meh. if his definition of 'right' can't include the 'right' of being alive then in my opinion it's wrong.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:40:53 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Beep said:
>meh. if his definition of 'right' can't include the 'right' of being alive then in my opinion it's wrong.
>
So you think a right is ok if it involves the obligation of another ?

No one denies you have the right to live, but it's not incumbent on everyone else to keep you alive is it ?


 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 16:57:24 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Did you miss this part :

No

>By contrast, we don't have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government".

Did you miss mine?


 
Kira Posted: Thu Feb 23 17:24:05 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  We have a guarantee to life, not a lifetime guarantee. You can't go in for free maintanence every time you get sick.

Forget money for a minute. Supposing government didn't give the doctors your neighbor's money to take care of you. Do you still have a right to healthcare, paid or not?

Are doctors slaves?


 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 17:41:18 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>Are doctors slaves?

I don't see your point.

If you're going to say to a doctor "ask for credit cards first", you're putting the burden on the doctor.

Scanners, tubes, needles, everything costs enormous amounts of money.

If you run over a poor kid in the street and you lightly bump your head on your side window, the ambulance comes over and they take care of your bumped head while the poor kid is pulled off the street so it doesn't block other cars and bleeds to death in agony.


Don't get me wrong, I get the general gist of the idea behind this, and I'm against socialism and all for egoism, as well as clear standpoints, but without any aggression intended, it pisses me off when things are simplified for easier digestion.


 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 17:42:23 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>it pisses me off when things are simplified for easier digestion.

and stuff gets numbed down to a oneliner.


 
Kira Posted: Thu Feb 23 18:16:19 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>
>I don't see your point.
>

And I don't see yours:

>If you run over a poor kid in the street and you lightly bump your head on your side window, the ambulance comes over and they take care of your bumped head while the poor kid is pulled off the street so it doesn't block other cars and bleeds to death in agony.
>

What does this analogy relate to?

>Don't get me wrong, I get the general gist of the idea behind this, and I'm against socialism and all for egoism, as well as clear standpoints, but without any aggression intended, it pisses me off when things are simplified for easier digestion.

I understand, but I was able to get out what I wanted to say in just a few brief sentences, so that's what I did. If you understood the argument there is no reason to write a long drawn-out essay.

My argument stands that those who believe health care is a right must also believe that doctors don't have the right to their own freedom, to treat who they want to treat, those patients who can pay them back for their effort and equipment and time spent away from their families. The same goes for farmers, truckers and food vendors and those people who believe that adequate food is a right, and for brick masons, lumberjacks, truckers again, construction retailers and construction workers, and those people who believe shelter is a right.


 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 18:25:33 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>What does this analogy relate to?

You saying that you can't go in to get rapaired

>My argument

Not the same at all.

You can live without food for a while
you can live without shelter for a while
etc

If you just got run over by a car, chances are you'll be dead without medical attention in a very short timeframe.

The analogy comes into play again, if 2 people come in, even if the other guy is hurt much worse, the one with money gets helped and the other one without money would be left to rot in pain.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Feb 23 18:39:18 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>Kira said:
>>What does this analogy relate to?
>
>You saying that you can't go in to get rapaired
>
>>My argument
>
>Not the same at all.
>
>You can live without food for a while
>you can live without shelter for a while
>etc
>
>If you just got run over by a car, chances are you'll be dead without medical attention in a very short timeframe.
>
>The analogy comes into play again, if 2 people come in, even if the other guy is hurt much worse, the one with money gets helped and the other one without money would be left to rot in pain.
>
A better analogy would be if I took my sick wife to the hospital and she needed surgery to live and I said OK, but I expect Christophe to pay for it.


 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 18:57:48 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>A better analogy would be if I took my sick wife to the hospital and she needed surgery to live and I said OK, but I expect Christophe to pay for it.

What if you take your dying wife to the hospital and I arrive along with you with a 1 inch cut in my finger, and I get helped with the best of care and your wife is left to die why all the needed equipment is there.

I wonder if you'll say ok.


 
Kira Posted: Thu Feb 23 19:32:13 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>
>
>The analogy comes into play again, if 2 people come in, even if the other guy is hurt much worse, the one with money gets helped and the other one without money would be left to rot in pain.

Exactly right. In a country populated by the coldest and most misguided of realists, that is what would happen.

Part of Capitalist theory goes that the success of an individual drives up the success of society. Self-interest in capitalist society is a virtue.

But there is good self-interest and there is idiotic self-interest. A doctor or paramedic would be within their rights not to help a poor person who was dying but they would be fools to do so. They would become social and economic outcasts.

A person helps, expecting the be helped in return, but that help need not come from the first helpee - third parties, seeing the good the that first helper has to offer, will scramble to ally themselves with him. What we call "selfless" acts have their own benefits, and moral behavior has endless reward.

To think only of yourself is as foolish as thinking only of others. In the one case you will never have rest from feeding and protecting yourself because there is no one else to help you. In the other, you will starve to death, having kept nothing for yourself.

If I may risk a generalization - doctors are not in it for the money. They need money to survive, like everyone else, but I doubt there's an MD in the world who would turn their backs and let a penniless person bleed to death.

Helping a poor person with a terminal illness is a bit different. Many doctors may choose not to help in that situation because intensive treatment will cost more time and money than they can afford to give away. But again, putting a gun to their heads is not necessary, because a surplus of wealth breeds charity. In a rich society even the poor have choices.


 
FN Posted: Thu Feb 23 19:41:36 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>Part of Capitalist theory goes that the success of an individual drives up the success of society. Self-interest in capitalist society is a virtue.

I'm guessing you're seeing capitalism/liberalism in a different light than me.

I don't think that A automaticly leads to B.

>But there is good self-interest and there is idiotic self-interest. A doctor or paramedic would be within their rights not to help a poor person who was dying but they would be fools to do so. They would become social and economic outcasts.

Ah see, but that's the bullshit part right there.

So the doctor can help as long as he pays for it out of his own pocket?

>A person helps, expecting the be helped in return, but that help need not come from the first helpee - third parties, seeing the good the that first helper has to offer, will scramble to ally themselves with him. What we call "selfless" acts have their own benefits, and moral behavior has endless reward.

I disagree

>To think only of yourself is as foolish as thinking only of others. In the one case you will never have rest from feeding and protecting yourself because there is no one else to help you. In the other, you will starve to death, having kept nothing for yourself.

Too simplistic.

>If I may risk a generalization - doctors are not in it for the money. They need money to survive, like everyone else, but I doubt there's an MD in the world who would turn their backs and let a penniless person bleed to death.

Is the MD going to pay for the scanners and surgery material as well?

>But again, putting a gun to their heads is not necessary, because a surplus of wealth breeds charity. In a rich society even the poor have choices.

I disagree.


 
Kira Posted: Thu Feb 23 19:56:37 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>Kira said:
>>A person helps, expecting the be helped in return, but that help need not come from the first helpee - third parties, seeing the good the that first helper has to offer, will scramble to ally themselves with him. What we call "selfless" acts have their own benefits, and moral behavior has endless reward.
>
>I disagree
>

So what do you think is the motivation for moral behavior?

(Ignoring the rest of your response because you failed to offer rebuttals.)


 
FN Posted: Fri Feb 24 03:44:21 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>So what do you think is the motivation for moral behavior?

Self interest, ofcourse.

Thinking that people who get rich will automaticly give away money out of their own self interest is too simplistic.

If that would be the case, every rich guy would be about half as rich as he is today in order to pump up the general level of success, without having to live at any lower standard because of it, and thereby, supposedly, creating the possibility for more money in the future.

>(Ignoring the rest of your response because you failed to offer rebuttals.)

It seemed so obvious it wasn't really worth the effort.


 
Kira Posted: Fri Feb 24 06:19:29 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>Kira said:
>>So what do you think is the motivation for moral behavior?
>
>Self interest, ofcourse.
>

Yeah, and that ISN'T exactly what I said.

Geez.

You keep repeating 'too simplistic, too simplistic,' as if that went against the validity of the argument. The truth is often simple. Okham's Razor comes to mind.

People are basically good.

Wickedness is counterproductive.

Life is a right, shared by all.

Healthcare is a priveledge.

Etc.

Fiction is more likely to be long and contrived.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Fri Feb 24 06:48:02 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  You guys are confusing morals with rights.
They have nothing to do with each other.


 
FN Posted: Fri Feb 24 09:35:30 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>The truth is often simple. Okham's Razor comes to mind.

But not always.

>People are basically good.

I disagree


 
addi Posted: Fri Feb 24 11:01:45 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>You guys are confusing morals with rights.

I haven't read every post here, but this makes sense to me.

Arguing about a poor person having the inherent "right" to medical service seems to be missing the point of things...like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
When we bring it to the level of moral obligations though it's entirely different.

Does a society have a moral responsibility to make sure it's citizens can get needed health care?

some will argue yes, and some no, but at least it's a debateble subject on this level.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Fri Feb 24 14:10:32 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addi said:
>ifihadahif said:
>Does a society have a moral responsibility to make sure it's citizens can get needed health care?
>
Emergency health care sure, but not general health care.
You don't have the right to make me responsible for the 350 pound chain smoker next door or the recreational drug user that lives in every other house on my street and every other street in America.


 
Kira Posted: Fri Feb 24 16:32:16 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>You guys are confusing morals with rights.
>They have nothing to do with each other.

I agree. To address health care as a right we would have done better to start with "what is a right?" but that would have been a very short-lived debate. Williams already covered that, anyway.

Many people who argue for health care as a right do not understand the basic difference between universal rights and rights of the moral standard. If they did, this debate would not exist.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Fri Feb 24 16:38:34 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>ifihadahif said:
>>You guys are confusing morals with rights.
>>They have nothing to do with each other.
>
>I agree. To address health care as a right we would have done better to start with "what is a right?" but that would have been a very short-lived debate. Williams already covered that, anyway.
>
>Many people who argue for health care as a right do not understand the basic difference between universal rights and rights of the moral standard. If they did, this debate would not exist.
>
Moral rights ? is there such a thing?
Who would decide what they were ?
Morals are so diverse I don't think you could do it.


 
Kira Posted: Fri Feb 24 17:05:41 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>
>Moral rights ? is there such a thing?
>Who would decide what they were ?

Why don't you do it. I'll give you a pastry basket.


 
Kira Posted: Fri Feb 24 17:22:42 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Not to be snarky, you understand. I'm just home from work and shouldn't have revisited this thread to begin with.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Fri Feb 24 17:25:16 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Kira said:
>Not to be snarky, you understand. I'm just home from work and shouldn't have revisited this thread to begin with.
>
S'ok Darlin' . . .it kind of turns me on when you get snarky.
:-)


 
FN Posted: Fri Feb 24 20:25:14 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Well, all rights are basicly moral from the very start.


 
addi Posted: Sat Feb 25 10:02:34 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:

>Moral rights ? is there such a thing?
>Who would decide what they were ?
>Morals are so diverse I don't think you could do it.

Of course they exist. Whether something is an absolute universal moral, or isn't, has long been debated by philosophers over the centuries, but our laws of right and wrong are based on a standard of values and morals (in our case judeo-christian values). So if you walk up to a person and shoot him our society has determined that you have denied that person the "moral right" to exist, and punishment follows (unless you're OJ Simpson). Our Bill of Rights is based on a set of moral rights that the founding fathers believed in.

But I chose a simple example. The sticky part comes when we start applying our set of moral rights to less obvious subjects...like health care. That's when heated debates rise.
To steal your example, hif, if you have a citizen that (freely) abuses his body by choosing to be grossly obese and smoke a lot then why should others have to flip the bill when he's put in the hospital for his poor habits? It was his personal choice to live that way, so he should have to be responsible for the consequences.
That was also a fairly easy example though. The problem comes when we apply that to the very real situation millions of Americans find themselves in today. They work hard at a job that pays little and the cost of having basic healthcare keeps going up and up (if it's even offered to them at all). So they find themselves in the predicament of not being able to meet their basic living needs and still afford the costs of medical insurance. My personal set of moral standards says that isn't just or fair; that decent health coverage shouldn't just be for the well off. The practical application of that belief is to have some sort of universal health care system here, not because it's a universal right, but because I believe it's the morally right thing to do.
The problem with my belief though is that there will be people like the guy I used above that will not take personal responsibility and make wise health choices, thus abusing the system and making others pay for his poor lifestyle choices. However when I weigh that against all the good it would do to help responsible hard working citizens (but not having a high income)live a higher quality of life then I have to say it's worth it. Yes, some will abuse the system, but we have a long history of a minority of people abusing every government program offering assistance to some degree, and we still see those programs as beneficial (e.g. social security, medicare).

My god I rambled on and on here. Sorry


 
addi Posted: Sat Feb 25 10:28:40 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I think this all boils down to our individual beliefs in what government system works best. I tend to favor a social democracy. I don't think pure socialism works (government handouts for everything), and I don't think a pure democracy works taken to the extreme (you're on your own Libertarian mindset...human greed takes over there).
I prefer a mix of personal responsibilty and choice, with a central government there to assist it's citizens in particular areas. No system is perfect, but a form of social democracy seems to be the best solution in an imperfect world.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Feb 25 10:55:16 2006 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I think we may be confusing moral obligations with inherent rights, but maybe I'm splitting hairs.
I'm not sure a person has a "moral right" to exist, it's an inherent right that person is born with.
Perhaps we all have a moral obligation to help others with less means, but no one has the right to demand that assistance.


 



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