One of the most common arguments I hear in support of socialized health care (especially among millennials), is that we each have a right to free health care. But is this truly the case? Where does this right come from, and what are the penalties for violating it? Let’s break it down.
The claim that we have a right to free health care has two components. First, it asserts that health care is a basic human right, which itself necessitates that human rights exist. Second, it claims the very existence of free health care. We will address both of these points separately.
What Are Human Rights?
Is health care a basic human right? To answer that, we must first determine what human rights are. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, human rights are norms or principles that exist to “protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, and social abuses.” Human rights are claimed to be universal, transcending all secular and religious law. The concept of human rights is a relatively recent one. In ancient times, proper social behavior was governed quite differently. The classical Greeks and Romans, for example, categorized behavior into vices and virtues. Those individuals who embodied virtues were praised while those who embodied vices were subjected to social disapproval.
Human rights have only become popular in philosophical and political thought in the last four or five centuries. They were originally meant to protect individuals against improper behavior, usually from their own government. For example, the right to religious freedom protects the individual against persecution for practicing a form of religion other than the state religion. The right to free speech protects against civil or criminal penalties for speaking against the political establishment. The right to free association protects against the government forcing people to become involved with those who they find objectionable for some reason, such as a Christian bakery being forced to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual wedding.
The concept of human rights has changed significantly in more recent history, however. Rights as envisioned by such thinkers as John Locke and Immanuel Kant have been changed from a protection to an imperative. Whereas in times past rights forbade behavior, today they demand it. This means that the very concept of rights has been reversed. If a moral or ethical concept can be completely inverted like this, then it was never valid in the first place.
So where do rights come from? There are two camps. The first are the secular atheist philosophers. They claim that human rights are innate to the individual, and the same for all people. The other camp are a group within Christianity who claim that God has given us our rights. The problem is that neither group can provide any evidence to back up their claims.
There is nothing in the objective material world that can be called a right. You cannot point to an object and say “that, there, is a human right,” nor can you point to a natural phenomena and claim that it is the effect, for which a human right is the cause. Thus, necessarily, human rights are a social construct. If they are a social construct, then they cannot be objective; rather, they are subjective. In short, we have imagined them. While it is the philosophers who claim the existence of human rights, it is governments who codify them into law and enforce them. Therefore, if rights can be said to exist at all, then they must be a creation of the state. If they are a creation of the state, then they cannot be innate to the human being, as the state is a creation of man. How can we claim the imaginations of men to be a universal moral code? Moreover, if rights are subjective and derived from the state, they can be taken away by the state when it is deemed expedient. How can we then call them rights? It would be better to call them privileges.
As mentioned before, many Christians claim that God has given us our rights. I have heard this argument time and time again. I challenge anyone to find any kind of scriptural support for that what-so-ever. If God has given us a right to live, for example, does he then violate our rights when he judges an individual or a nation to destruction? Certainly not, because rights do not exist.
The second component necessary to the claim to the right to free health care is that free health care exists. Of course, when people make this claim they mean that they should receive medical care without having to pay for it. But this does not make it free. Indeed, the health care industry is one of the largest industries in the west, with enormous costs involved. One must pay for the training and salary of personnel, the construction of facilities, research, development, and production of treatments and technology, emergency transportation, and insurance. If the consumer refuses to pay for it, where do these costs go?
Predictably, leftists claim that the government will pay for it, as if they are in possession of a magic wand that makes things free. Where does the state get the money to pay for it? The government, after all, has no money. The funds that the government spends each day come either from tax revenue, or debt that they have borrowed from central banks (which are borrowed from an empty account), using your tax dollars as collateral. When they borrow these funds, of course, it has the effect of increasing the money supply, which, in turn, devalues the currency used by the general population. Either way, it’s your money they’re spending.
So how are we supposed to respect this alleged right to free health care? The only option is to demand that construction workers build hospitals and clinics for free, that doctors, nurses, orderlies, and maintenance personnel work for free, and that treatments be researched, developed, and distributed at no charge. But this is still not free! The materials cost money, research and development requires time, labor, and material, and the workers experience unacceptable opportunity costs. No amount of delusional wishful thinking can possibly make health care free.
And what about the rights of the medical personnel? If you have a right to free health care, then the doctor must treat you. But what about the doctor’s right to free association? What about the right of the tax payer to be secure in their property and assets? The right to free health care necessarily violates the rights of others. If it is not clear enough already, this final nail in the coffin invalidates the concept entirely.
Why, then, do people claim a right to free health care if it exists only in the minds of the delusional and the corrupt? Governments spread the myth because it places the population in a dependent position in relation to themselves. At this point, politicians need only bribe the unthinking voters with seemingly free health care in order to get elected. What’s worse, they can coerce the citizenry into agreeing to sacrifice money or freedoms simply by threatening to take away their medical coverage. The citizenry likes the idea for a more obvious reason: Everyone likes free stuff.
But if everyone likes free stuff, why doesn’t everyone support the right to free health care? Even if it is a myth, it stands to reason that the less honorable among us (hint: that’s most people) would hold their nose and demand it anyway.
There are some among us who cannot abide such theft. We cry foul when we see crime, not only those crimes that are committed against ourselves, but also those which are to our seeming benefit. Whereas some men and women can lie, steal, and murder, and then somehow sleep at night, we cannot. The belief in the right to free health care is a litmus test, not only for the intelligence of the individual but also for their character. Anyone who believes that the government is justified in extracting funds from the citizenry through the use of force and then using those funds to subjugate those they have just stolen from is morally bankrupt. If they will support this, what will they not do? What do they consider to be crossing the line? Who will they not steal from? Are they willing to commit crimes more sinister than theft? How will they react when their stolen money is taken away? Beware such people.