The logic goes that if healthcare is a right, then healthcare providers become slaves.
If healthcare is a right, they say, then I (for example) am entitled to the labor of doctors and nurses and they cannot refuse me. If healthcare is a right, according to these Randian libertarians, then any doctor, any nurse, any healthcare provider must provide me with their services free of charge at any time. Because it’s my right, you see?
Which is a damned good example of why Atlas Shrugged should be regarded as a tediously mediocre science fiction novel and not a blueprint for civilization.
In America, guns are a right. The right, in a lot of ways. But you can’t just walk into a gun store and demand a gun as your due free of charge – not without getting shot, probably. The government isn’t obligated to provide you with a gun. Hell, we don’t even have subsidies for poor people who want a gun and can’t afford one. And instead of turning gun manufacturers into slaves, it made them fabulously wealthy.stonekettle.com
Using the logic libertarians apply to healthcare, I’ve pointed out to them that they can’t have the right to a gun, pretty much the way you draw it out. You can have a right to defend yourself but you cannot have a right to a weapon, the product of another man’s work. Their response generally has been to declare that argument pointless, because without a gun you are defenseless. They apparently haven’t heard of kitchen knives and baseball bats.
Doctors take an oath. They are required to treat the injured, within their ability to do so. To not offer help when it is needed, when it is available, is inhumane. To the extent that healthcare is generally available, it is a right of the citizenry to seek it. Just like food and shelter, healthcare should be provided to those in need.
The problem with conservatives and capitalists is that they seem to think that you can gain wealth through social austerity. That isn’t how modern economic systems work. Money is a debt instrument. If they want people to pay for things then give them the money to spend in enough quantities to meet their needs. Then we’ll know what the price and demand for goods and services really are, because everyone who needs a thing will be able to pay the market price to get it. I’m convinced that public health is too important to be treated as a commodity, but anything outside of public health concerns (screenings, inoculations, hospitals, research) should be fine treated in this way. Just as long as those in need are not required to do without.
That is the problem that zero sum game types can’t wrap their heads around. With millions of Americans and billions of people on this planet, there is little we cannot do if we set our minds to doing it. We created these systems out of whole cloth in previous generations. There is nothing keeping us from maintaining them in perpetuity aside from our own lack of will. Our own greed. We’ve let the greedy run this country for far too long now. It’s time for a change.
I had forgotten about this comment on Stonekettle’s article until he reposted the article on Facebook the other day as part of an illustration of what a change in the presidency and his agenda can do to address the plights of millions of people.