One of the truly great accomplishments of the founding fathers (and indeed, the foundational accomplishment) was the acknowledgment of human rights, and the attendant verbalizing, and eventual codifying of certain human rights in the first Ten Amendments, commonly called the Bill of Rights.
At the time of the ratification of the Constitution, there were opponents to ratification whose opposition was based on the fact that the proposed Constitution defined how government should be run, but did nothing to guarantee individual liberty. In this opposition was the concept of Constitutionally guaranteed ‘rights’ (as opposed to merely ‘understood’ rights) born, and in answer to this opposition Madison proposed the Bill of Rights to enumerate those held to be most important at the time of conception. The amendment process, of course, left open the door for inclusion of other ‘rights’ should they become evident in the future.
There are certain things that each of the first Ten have in common, and these are things that are inherent in all ‘rights’ in general. For example, each of these rights ascribes to individuals, rather than to the body politic. In fact each right ascribes STRICTLY to the individual, so that nothing can be considered a right for one person if the exercise of that right requires a duty or obligation by another. Also, these rights are what President Obama has referred-to as ‘negative rights’. By this term he correctly meant that the right prevented the government from doing certain things, rather than allowing or requiring the government to do things.
The argument that certain rights should be enumerated has proven a boon to our society, for the Bill of Rights is so clear in its purpose and unambiguous in its specific language that it has only needed to be questioned in circumstances where someone in the government was indeed trying to impose some rule of law that would result in a depravation of the right in question. It has acted as a shield against tyranny, though like a shield it must be raised in each instance where insult is hurled if it is to be effective.
“Health Care should be a right” is now a manta of the Left. Correct they may well be! However, as is often the case with the Left, they are not saying what they mean. What they mean is, “My health care at someone else’s expense should be a right.” Clearly, this whole concept is self-contradictory. It cannot be a ‘right’ if the exercise of the right requires a duty or obligation by another. Your ‘right’ cannot be a right if it imposes a duty on me. You don’t have a right to it if I have to pay for it.
As an example, the Second Amendment grants us each the right to keep and bear arms, yet imposes no duty on any other citizen (nor on the government as the aegis of the citizenry) to provide any of us with a weapon. Likewise, while a ‘Right to Health Care Amendment’ should allow each us to obtain Health Care in any manner we deem fitting (or not at all if that is our choice), there should be no duty on any other citizen (or the government) to provide the Health Care we desire.
The amendment granting health care the status of a right should read something like this: “Except as to provide for the medical needs of the federal military, Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of a health care system, nor interfere with any citizen in the free pursuit of such provision for health care as the citizen deems warranted.”
In this way could health care indeed become a ‘right’, and changes to the law of the land so as to reduce health care costs would be limited such things as tort reform, insurance and interstate commerce reform, and tax reform to increase competition and help in making health care more affordable. These are the kinds of things that actually could potentially reduce health care costs, improve health care efficiency, and continually improve standard of care, without increasing the national debt or raising taxes to pay for it.
This argument will of course be viewed by many as being simplistic (for example, what would become of Medicare if such an amendment were passed), and it is admittedly so. But what the heck….. a fella can dream, can’t he?