I’ve been thinking a lot about health care and the mess I’m about to inherit in the next couple of years as I earn my MD and enter Residency training. As a student of medical blogs, it’s hard to be keep my head in the sand about such things as they clearly occupy a good deal of the discussions. So right now I’m addressing the perceived “right to health care.”
I’m against it and here is why.
When we think of our rights, we often think about the Bill of Rights and the Amendments. The right to bear arms, the protection from unreasonable search, the right to peaceful assembly and the right of free speech. The common thread in these rights is that they
- cost nothing to maintain or respect
- requires other persons to refrain from violating it in order to fulfill it
These are referred to as Negative rights. If you leave me alone and I leave you alone, we have maintained these rights and violated nothing. Now if you look at the proposed Right to Health Care, you will notice that this fails both of these standards. It instead
- costs a great deal
- requires other persons to perform a service in order to fulfill it
These are referred to as Positive rights. Under this right, if I fail to provide you the service of Health Care, I am violating your right to my service. And now we reach the crux of my argument:
I do not recognize your right to my service. I instead take this time to remind you of Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment which states:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Dramatic, no? The Thirteenth Amendment is a perfect example of a negative right and I find it defensible as such. If you’d like a more contemporary quote, you need go no further than Ayn Rand:
“I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
I think that the goal of providing Universal Health Care ffor the United States is an admirable one, but I object to the justification used and the way people want to implement it. But that’s for another post. In the meantime, if a proponent of Universal Health Care cannot successfully address my simple argument above, then that person needs to seriously reevaluate their support of the idea and their attacks against physicians (both present and future) that object to it.
Though I am training to provide a service, that does not make me your servant.
Wikipedia has a great entry on Positive and Negative rights.