Tuesday, July 19, 2005

IS Healthcare a Right?

One of the State's premier bloggers, Owen of Boots and Sabers, (http://bootsandsabers.com/) argues in a post on WiDigest (http://widigest.com/html/owen_71405.htm) that healthcare is a commodity, and not a right.

I maintain that he begins with a fundamental ontological error, and arrives at a partially-correct answer as a result.

Owen's flawed foundational statement?

"Rights are based upon the principle that each of us owns our own person."

Not exactly. Human rights result from our creation by God. THAT is why the rights are inalienable--not subject to the whim of Government(s). Human rights, properly understood, were bestowed on us by God, not ourselves. WE do not have the authority to abrogate or derogate those rights, insofar as WE did not "give them to ourselves." Were we to pursue the "ownership" thesis, such things as suicide would be morally acceptable--and they are not, at least in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, (rightly understood.) This is precisely the nexus of the argument over Terri Schiavo; neither the State nor her (poseur) "husband" GAVE her her life; therefore, neither of them had the right to TAKE it. In fact, the "husband"'s pursuit of her death and the judge's acquiescence to his wishes constitute murder under the terms of the 5th Commandment.

"Healthcare" takes on a different color with the Judaeo-Christian understanding of the origin of "human rights."

The society-based 'payer' system enshrined in health insurance is a logical outgrowth of the understanding that life is an inalienable right. Before 'health insurance' there were relatives, friends, and charitable institutions (principally religious) which worked to preserve the health of people. With the recognition that John Donne was right ("...no man is an island, entire to himself...therefore do not ask for whom the bell tolls...), this grew into 'health insurance,' which was certainly an admirable and justifiable extension of the underlying moral imperative.

One can argue, as Owen has, that 'the system' is now dysfunctional. I concur with his passing remark in one of his blog-entries that in the USA, the prevention of aging and death has become virtually manic, at horrendous expense. The fixation on defying Nature is almost amusing--after my father died at age 72, many of my friends simply refused to accept the fact that he "died of old age." 'Well, there HAS to be a CAUSE,' they would query, imperatively---as though simply getting old was no excuse to die. Sorry--getting old is still the most reliable method of achieving death, vested research-organization-dollar-grabbing notwithstanding.

Should healthcare, as currently constituted, be re-examined? Yes. Among other things, consumers of healthcare should be given pricing information along with a rudimentary "quality" affirmation--enabling them to pick a provider who/which is both "good" at what they do AND able to deliver the service for a good price. If they use this, they should be rewarded with less deductible obligation, or whatever. (HSA's are an excellent starting point.)

But should we regard healthcare as a function of "self-ownership?" Never. Accepting that line of argumentation opens the door for all the worst 'Corporate Statism' sins, which only just began with Schiavo and the Kelo decision.

No comments: