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With all the cantankerous arguments filled with minutiae permeating the halls of Congress and the TV and radio talk shows, it’s hard to remember what the core issue of the healthcare debate is: Is there a natural right to healthcare?
Many of the arguments in favor and even against President Barack Obama’s healthcare plans do not challenge or question the premise that healthcare is a right. I’m having trouble remembering on which day God created healthcare: was it on the fourth or fifth day? Actually, men and women over the centuries have created and improved healthcare. So the right to healthcare is a human made right, right?
Franklin D. Roosevelt in his proposed Second Bill of Rights stated that U.S. citizens should have “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.” President Obama has said, “I think it should be a right for every American,” and Lyndon Johnson was quoted as saying, “every man has a right to a Saturday night bath.” I sure would like to hear the congressional debate on that one. What about a woman’s right to a Saturday night bath? Do gay men have a right to a Saturday night bath, and can more than one person legally inhabit the same tub? Can a Saturday night bath be taken on Wednesday?
Why not give every American a right to free cheeseburgers? If we gave Americans the right to cheeseburgers, no one would starve to death. Without food, all the arguments about healthcare as a right becomes moot. Shouldn’t the right to food supercede the right to healthcare?
However, how would the folks at the fast food restaurants get paid, how would the truckers who transport the beef get paid, and how would the ranchers get the money they need to feed the cows? If the fast food workers don’t get paid, they will quit their jobs; same goes for the truckers and the ranchers.
The government can always subsidize cheeseburgers, but that would mean that they’d have to levy a tax to pay for the right of the people to cheeseburgers.However, who pays the tax? Isn’t it the same folks who are getting the “free” cheeseburgers? Or are just the “super rich” going to pay? Do the super rich have enough money to pay for all the necessary cheeseburgers? If not, the not so super rich will probably have to chip in.
You can always limit the profits of fast food restaurants, truckers, and ranchers. However, in the long run, fewer and fewer folks would flip burgers, drive trucks, or herd cattle, making cheeseburgers scarce and more expensive. If the price of cheeseburgers rises, so must the subsidies to buy them, making it necessary to raise taxes on the super rich and the not so super rich while expanding the tax to include the not even close to being rich. The government could also tax “Cadillac” meats like filet mignon and sirloin. All these taxes reduce the amount of money these folks have to purchase other necessary goods and services, which in turn hurts those selling the goods or providing the service.
If you are really into self-sufficiency, you can buy a cow or two and keep it in your back yard and grow a nice vegetable garden, but then you’d have to stay home to keep the cows from being stolen or to make sure the cows don’t eat your vegetables. Then you’d have to kill a cow (not in front of the kids) every once in a while, slice it up, store the meat in a freezer, and flip burgers while fending off a dozen PETA protesters on your front lawn (not to mention lying to the kids about where the burgers came from, and why a cow is missing). These new responsibilities would make it difficult for you to hold down a job, pay your utility bills, make your mortgage payments, or pay your children’s way through college.
Some of you may argue that a cheeseburger does not equate to healthcare. Is not food necessary for survival? Isn’t a cheeseburger food? Then using the same arguments that healthcare is a right, free cheeseburgers should be a right.
The truth is both healthcare and cheeseburgers are commodities that require labor and raw materials. If you decrease the amount of money doctors make either by forcibly paying them less or making it more expensive for them to practice, you will end up with fewer doctors and more waiters and taxi drivers (see the Cuban economy or lack thereof). This will result in a decrease in healthcare services and an increase in deaths from curable ailments (also see Cuba , but not through Michael Moore’s cheeseburger grease-tainted glasses).
The healthcare system in the U.S. has its problems, but the problems are not caused by market forces, they are caused by government interference (see Medicare, Medicaid, and the multi-billion dollar insurance lobby with Congress in its hip pocket). If we continue on the current path, you’ll be more likely to survive a heart attack (probably caused by eating too many free cheeseburgers) in a restaurant or a taxi cab than in a hospital.