TAMPA, July 5 2012 – Thank heaven for the great Steve Zahn, who in his hilarious turn as Lenny in the Beatlesque That Thing You Do, coined a phrase that applies to nearly every political sentiment expressed here in the land of the free.
“You’re talking gibberish.”
Lenny’s prescient warning against calling the band “The One-ders” was ignored, resulting in the band’s name being universally mispronounced, until it was changed to “The Wonders” by the band’s eventual manager.
The lesson? When gibberish is accepted as reason, bad things happen. The stakes are much higher for healthcare.
There are limitless reactions to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. Unfortunately, those opposed are also talking gibberish. Conservatives are trying to spin the decision as a blow for limited government because it was rendered by a conservative judge. That’s bad enough. Occupy Wall Street’s argument against the decision is even worse.
At least the left’s opposition to the law, where it exists, has remained consistent. True believers in government-provided healthcare object to the Affordable Care Act because it makes use of private insurers. Occupy Wall Street is 100% correct on one thing. “The law will deliver 20+ million new customers and $447 billion in taxpayer subsidies directly to the private health insurance companies.”
Libertarians couldn’t agree more. The Act is nothing more than a half trillion dollar theft for the health insurance industry. That it benefits big business does not make it a “free market” solution. It’s just more welfare, of the corporate variety, that libertarians oppose like any other forcible redistribution of wealth.
The gibberish comes in when Occupy argues for its solution. Proposing “Medicare for All,” a single-payer healthcare system 100% operated by the government, Occupy makes this statement.
“We believe that healthcare is a human right, not a commodity or a luxury for those who can afford it.”
Gibberish. Why? Let’s think for a moment about what this statement really means. To do that, we’re going to have to define the words used in the statement. The first one is “healthcare.”
What is healthcare? There is one answer to that question that is impossible to refute.
Healthcare is the labor of other people.
When a patient sees a doctor, they are purchasing a product. The product is the doctor’s labor. It is not only the skills and experience that the doctor brings to the exam room. It’s also his time. It’s a portion of his life that he is giving up to try to solve whatever ails the patient.
To claim a right to healthcare is to claim a right to some part of the healthcare provider’s life.
The other word that needs defining is “right.” What is a right? Merriam Webster’s most relevant definition is good enough for our purposes here: “Something to which one has a just claim.”
Think about the implications. When one has a just claim to something, one can’t be charged to make use of it. One can’t be charged a fee by another human being to exercise the right to life (oh yeah, now you can).
How can anyone make the statement that they have a just claim upon the life of another?
“Oh, but we are not enslaving the doctor, because the government will pay him for his services,” might be one reply.
Pay him with what?
There is only one answer. The government will extract the labor of others, i.e. taxpayers, to pay the doctor. That doesn’t eliminate the crime being committed. It only changes the victim. Instead of a just claim to the labor of the doctor, the Occupiers are claiming a right to the labor of those who will pay.
Didn’t we have an institution right here in the USA wherein one group of people claimed a right to the labor of another? Were we wrong to abolish it?
Like any large group of people, Occupy Wall Street probably has a few bad apples among them. It’s also likely that 99% of the 99% are good people in the grip of very bad ideas. I’d ask them to really think hard about the foundational idea that underlies their policy solution. Try to answer this question:
If you’re going to claim a right to the labor of other people, then why can’t the shareholders of corporations claim a right to yours?
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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