Monday, August 10, 2009

On the "right" to health care

Terrific summation of the fundamental philosophical problem behind the drive to Obamacare--about the most succinct I've seen anywhere--can be found in the comments section of this essay. The eighth comment down:

As people in the software business often say, there's a difference between free speech and free beer. No one is being denied freedom to health care in the free speech sense: I try to use my own resources to get health care and someone blocks me. But health care, unlike speech (or the rights to worship or assemble) is like free beer: someone else has to provide it. So it's really saying we have a right to other people's money to pay for our health care.

In two centuries, I don't think anyone has ever claimed that the right to free speech means I have the right to take even 50 cents from my neighbor to buy a stamp and an envelope to send a letter to the editor. If I can't afford to write a letter, I'll just have to live with preaching on the street corner, while the Murdocks and Turners of the world project their free speech to millions. And that's been fine. Throwing around the word "right" in this case without addressing the fact that we're talking about a very different kind of right seems dishonest.

Nothing more to say.


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