There is no right to entitlement — by guestblogger Danny Lemieux

People are arguing past themselves on the healthcare issue because words have come to mean very different things to different people. More specifically, there is great confusion over what is meant by a “right” (as in “Bill of…). Tell me if you agree.

I have been listening to video and audio clips of the various town hall meetings on health care issues and have noticed that a major part of the pro-single payer cant is to refer to health care as a “human right”. I’ve got news…there is no “right” to health care! People can feel entitled to health care, however. Here’s the difference:

Our right to free speech, to worship as we wish, to protect ourselves, to bear arms, to own property, to pursue happiness and assemble (especially if it makes you happy) costs others nothing of their own rights, including their right to their own labor and property. As our Declaration of Independence proclaims, these are “God-given” rights – they do not impinge upon the similar rights of others.

However, when we claim a “right” to education, to housing, to healthcare and so one, we essentially demand that others satisfy our needs by giving of their time, labor and intellectual property under terms dictated by we-the-takers.

Ah…you say…but the government pays people to satisfy our rightful demands. Well…not really. For when we make such claims on others through a coercive third party (government), the providers of services no longer enter into the transaction under their own free will and terms of their choice. Otherwise, it would be a straightforward commercial transaction between consenting parties (“I need health care, you have the ability to provide it, so let’s negotiate the price). There is no need for government to enter into this transaction.

Under a government health care program, your doctor or nurse may get paid, but they get paid under terms dictated by the government (as in, “you either comply with these Medicare payment guidelines or you don’t get compensated and your family starves”), by the forcible taking of money from the taxpayers. The government’s demand for other people’s time and labor is not directed to health care professionals but also to Jack and Jenny down the road who must earn the money to pay taxes no matter whether Jack and Jenny are having a tough time making ends meet. I could never accept the proposition that Jack and Jenny ever agreed to shell-out for somebody else’s health care and until I could see their written agreement to that effect. Until I do, I assume that Jack and Jenny’s contribution to the welfare of others falls under the involuntary servitude provision of the 13th Amendment.

Ah, you say, but this is a democracy, and in a democracy the “people” willingly vote to pay taxes in exchange for such benefits. True, such does not happen with the consent of all. Does a majority have the right to vote the involuntary servitude of a minority? Plus, as our burgeoning national debt underscores, “we the people” collectively demand far more in goods and services from our government than for which we are willing to pay…the difference must eventually be confiscated from somebody. Consequently, monies necessary to satisfy the entitlement demands of individual Americans are being coerced from people, many of whom have yet to be borne, who have never had the opportunity to consent or dissent to be taxed. Plus, anyone who truly believes that their individual consent to be or not to be taxed in order to satisfy the needs of others unknown is even remotely enters into consideration by their government is, in my opinion, hopelessly naive. Let’s find out how many of the top 1% of wage earners have consented to having their property expropriated by the other 99%. Personally, I happen to believe that taking other peoples’ money without just compensation is immoral, but maybe that’s just me.

So, how do we fight this? I understand how this can all seem very confusing to the many Americans already conditioned to membership in the collectivist hive. We have already slouched so far down the road to serfdom since the New Deal that it will take a very long, lonely, frustrating uphill slog to change our country’s direction. But, what other choice do we have other than to willingly surrender our freedoms?

I suggest that we can begin by slowly and persistently helping people around us re-framing the issues as follows:

  • Don’t let people get away with calling entitlement “rights”. Correct them and say, “what you really meant to say is you feel entitled to other peoples’ money and labor”.
  • When people tell you that “the Government will pay for…”, ask them where they think the government gets its money. You might be surprised by how many people don’t make that connection.
  • When people say that health care or anything else should be “free”, ask them if that means that believe their doctors and nurses should work for free.
  • Whenever someone says that the “government owes them___”, correct them and say, “What you mean to say is that other people (taxpayers) owe you___”.
  • When people say “but I pay taxes too, so I am just getting back what I’m owed”, respond with “you haven’t paid nearly enough in taxes to pay for your benefits (in 90%-plus of all cases, you will be right).
  • When people say that it’s a democracy and people vote through their elected representatives to pay taxes, ask them “when was the last time that you personally approved paying for another unknown person’s health needs?” Ask them if they would like to write you a check for your own kid’s next visit to the doctor or dentist.

Does anyone else care to add to the list?

It’s shaping up to be a very long and turbulent end-of-Summer and there are a lot of minds that need serious changing.

[Bookworm here:  About 20 years ago, a book I read (and I believe it was Philip K. Howard's The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America), spoke at length about the fact that government had become very free in handing out made-up "rights," because citizens could be forced, at their own cost, to extend those rights to other citizens without the addition of government programs.  It's now come full circle, with those same made-up "rights" becoming costly government programs that, instead of increasing our freedom from intrusive government -- which was what the Founder's really meant by "rights" -- decrease those true and inherent rights.

I have to applaud Danny Lemieux for making this important point, one that I wish I'd made myself (although I couldn't have made it as well).]

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Comments

  1. says

    Class warfare, race war, and corporate wars. A lot more subjects to add to the mix.

    The general principle, of impacting a person’s mental world view with challenges to their personal behavior vis a vis their political philosophy, is sound.

    Hit them hard enough, painful enough, and it will shake loose a few indoctrination templates. Won’t convince em, it’ll just slow em down. Which can often be enough.

  2. says

    One thing I found which I decided was rather deliciously ironic, is that the same people talking about redistributing wealth, social justice, and help for the little people complain endlessly about outsourcing.

    Well, people, what the hell is outsourcing except ‘redistribution of wealth’? And if you approve redistribution of it in one form, how can you hypocritically say some brown people don’t deserve it, but you and your families do deserve the goodies.

  3. says

    Danny Lemieux writes:

    Our right to free speech, to worship as we wish, to protect ourselves, to bear arms, to own property, to pursue happiness and assemble (especially if it makes you happy) costs others nothing of their own rights, including their right to their own labor and property. As our Declaration of Independence proclaims, these are “God-given” rights – they do not impinge upon the similar rights of others.

    However, when we claim a “right” to education, to housing, to healthcare and so one, we essentially demand that others satisfy our needs by giving of their time, labor and intellectual property under terms dictated by we-the-takers.

    There is one possible exception to this rule, which I mention at my blog:

    “…You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense…”

    If I exercise this right, I’m requiring a highly-trained professional to work for me, on someone else’s dime. And in theory, I’m depriving someone else of the work that highly-trained professional could be doing.

    Comments? (And no fair peeking at the answer someone else gave on my blog.)

  4. Charles Martel says

    If I exercise this right, I’m requiring a highly-trained professional to work for me, on someone else’s dime. And in theory, I’m depriving someone else of the work that highly-trained professional could be doing.

    Comments?”

    I can live with this as an example of my tax dollars productively at work. The government is forced to provide my protection against its desire that I incriminate myself. Given that government is established to protect what the statists call my “negative rights” (assembly, speech, worship, self-defense, justice by trial, etc.), I’m happy to see it being made to do so even if I have to foot part of the bill.

    Of course one of the key phrases is “if you cannot afford a lawyer.” If poor defendants could not afford representation and had to take their chances in court (in the absence of pro bono attorneys), we would be setting up the equivalent of debtors’ prisons.

  5. Charles Martel says

    Danny:

    Beautifully reasoned and written—almost like a manifesto.

    My concern, of course, is that as clear and logical as your arguments are, they really do go over the heads of most liberals. It’s not that the liberals lack brainpower, it’s just that most of them are too lazy to use it.

    I can count on one hand my liberal friends who are serious readers (not just crap like the NYT or Vanity Fair) and are willing to try out uncomfortable thoughts. The rest are content to glug NPR swill and read nice little novels by Oprah-approved writers. Their deer-in-the-headlights looks whenever you inject an adult thought into a conversation are disheartening.

  6. Danny Lemieux says

    Thank you, gpc31. You are most kind.

    Karl, you provide an excellent example of a “right” that is not in the Constitution and for which the definition has been muddled. I see this in two parts: I would suggest that people have a “right” to legal representation in that the State cannot deny an accused individual access to an attorney. At this point, nobody has made a demand on any third party and the rights of the individual for access to legal representation is preserved as it is for access to arms in the 2nd Amendment.

    However, as to the second part: when the State provides the services of an attorney “free of charge” (i.e., using the expropriated capital of taxpayers), then it is not a right but an entitlement. Thus, I would reword as such “You have the right to an attorney and you are entitled by the State to an attorney purchased at the expense of other citizens if you are either unable or unwilling to purchase of services of such attorney by your own means”.

    Charles, sadly I agree with you. I still remember all too clearly the events of last autumn when my wife and I trying in vain to cut through the mental smog of her siblings’ political rapture to explain real life consequences should Obama succeed in imposing Chicago thuggery on the nation and world. All they could do is stare back blankly at us thick as bricks. However, even with them, I do suspect that the real events on the ground are arousing little embers of cognitive intelligence back to life. My prediction is that the fascists minions of the Left have only begun to overreact and it will not make for a pretty picture but it may roust many more from their slumbers. Here’s hoping.

  7. Charles Martel says

    I’m hoping, too, Danny. I still believe that most Americans are not sheep the way the Germans were and liberals are, and that they will fight back.

    Do the unions have enough goons to suppress YouTube accounts of their thuggery? What happens when they encounter Marines on leave or Army Rangers who have gone back into civilian life?

    What happens when one of those beer-bellied bullies runs into Bookworm’s ripsaw martial art moves?

  8. Danny Lemieux says

    “Bookworm’s ripsaw martial art moves”

    Hmmm…do you think that we could convince Book to post such a video…? she could wear a black ski mask to protect her anonymity and thereby strike terror into the hearts of the Left. We could then start referring to her as “The Ripsaw of Marin”, thereby building on her mystique.

  9. says

    The lawyer free of charge issue isn’t a right anymore than you protecting other people’s freedom of speech is a right.

    What you are doing isn’t protecting somebody else’s rights, but your own. For the moment the government can restrict some select body’s speech or prevent some select body from obtaining legal counsel, regardless of what the excuse is, then this has fundamentally eroded everybody’s Constitutional rights.

    The lawyer is just a means. If everybody had a right to a free lawyer, and only a free lawyer, they’d be screwed when pitted up against people who could afford better lawyers. But the issue is that a lawyer doesn’t equate to legal representation or an adequate and just defense. The latter is the right that must be accorded to criminals even, those who are guilty, let alone the innocent citizen. But the free lawyer is just one government attempt at a solution.

    The difference from an attempt and a right is that you can shuck the former while not being able to trespass on the latter.

  10. benning says

    Howard’s book holds up well. I re-read it a few weeks ago and it sounded frighteningly up-to-date. Laws should be our tools not our masters. Howard shows that they are not our tools any longer.

    Danny’s essay is excellent!

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