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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/31/09

Is Health Care A Right, Privilege, Or A Barometer?

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Message Curt Day
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I had the privilege of participating in a campus panel discussion on health care. The following contains some reflections of that panel discussion.

I was originally assigned to represent the conservative view of health care. To defend the conservative side, I made an analogy between the Trojan Horse and policies that assume that health care is a right. That is, as appealing as such health care policies seem to be, inside such policies hide the enemies of America: foes of individual liberties/responsibilities, foes of the Constitution, and foes of the Free Market.

It is obvious that any approach to socialized medicine makes all dependent on others. We should note that, for a variety of reasons, we cannot say that all are dependent on all because not all members in society are in the position to contribute. But the idea that any of us should depend on others for our health care is repulsive to some because such a dependence means that those who are dependent are not pulling their own weight and that those who are providing for others are becoming indentured servants--as some see it. Thus, we should see the threat against individual liberties and responsibilities, noting that individual liberty and personal responsibility are two sides of one coin that any socialized or Universal Health Care approach poses.

Also hiding inside of the Trojan Horse of socialized or Universal Health Care are those who would attack the Constitution. That is obvious because there is nothing in the Constitution that assigns responsibility for health care to the Federal Government. Thus, for the government to take such a responsibility shows that the government exceeded its mandate and has violated the 10th amendment. That amendment says:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The last enemy that is hiding in the Trojan Horse of socialized and Universal Health Care attacks the Free Market. The Free Market is where the individual excels to meet the needs of other individuals. The Free Market provides for our needs while not attacking individual liberty and responsibility. And though it's obvious that there are problems with our current Health Care System, putting the Federal Government in charge of fixing our health care problems is like taking poison to cure a serious illness. Rather than putting the government in charge, we should examine how our government is preventing the Free Market from meeting our needs.

After considering those points, I honestly couldn't argue that health care is a right. Perhaps the greatest argument that one could put forth regarding health care being a right is what if the majority of people oppose socialized or Universal Health Care? Could we argue that it is a right? I would find that difficult. But perhaps asking if health care is a right or privilege is asking the wrong question. That is because the answer to the question either requires society to or prohibits it from providing health care for all. The question itself removes socialized or Universal Health Care from the democratic process.

This leads us to ask what if we could determine our health care by using the democratic process, what would we choose and what would our choice say about us. Would we be seen as a society that puts a high value on human life or on something else? Such a question shows what our health care debate is about today. Our health care system is a barometer for how our society chooses to value human life. Though we would like to think that our society places a high value on human life, proving that is rather difficult. For just as a real belief in free speech is best shown by how one defends the speech rights those one disagrees with, placing a high value on human life is best shown by how a society provides for the least of its citizens. Health care provisions made for society's economically privileged citizens only shows how our society values privilege, self-sufficiency, and the Free Market--the something else. How we provide for those whose provision not only provides no payback but costs us something by requiring us to share shows how much we value people.

If what our current health care system could say about our values is not enough to move us to change, we should then consider what our health care system can mean to our future. Currently, only the economically privileged and those willing to undergo personal bankruptcy can receive adequate health care--though the latter group's health care service does not last and comes at too high a price. In addition, the number of those who are economically privileged is rapidly shrinking. Thus, we have a growing pool of workers whom Capitalism is leaving behind and forgetting. The employment status of many of these people has become stagnate. But not only has their state of unemployment become frozen, they have become insignificant. This was shown by the "liberal" presidential candidate of 2008, Barack Obama, who appealed not to those in the lower economic class but to the Middle Class and above. To borrow a Naomi Klein term, such people are becoming "surplus" people to our system. And the question that many of us who rely on the current system must ask ourselves is how do we expect surplus people to respect a system that shows no respect for them? And how can we who are economically privileged be innocent when we do not use our privilege to stand up for what Capitalism considers to be surplus people and work to change their status.

I did participate in the panel discussion but not as a conservative as I was originally assigned to do. One of the participants who was to represent the liberal side did not show up. So to balance the discussion, they assigned me to defend the liberal side--though to be precise, I am a leftist. I never did read the conservative statement that I had written. Rather, I stated that our health care policies act as a barometer for how our society values human life. Two of the conservatives in the panel agreed. They went on to state that part of the problem in our society is human greed and I could not have agreed more. But we did disagree with who the culprits were. They implied that the have nots who want their basic health care needs met are the guilty ones. In contrast, I believe those who are guilty of greed here are the haves who oppose health care reform because it would require them to share.

So that is what we are facing. What value does our society place on human life? How we treat the least in our society answers that question whether we like the answer or not.

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Curt Day is a religious flaming fundamentalist and a political extreme moderate. Curt's blogs are at and
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