"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Medical Right

I've written about this before, but who knows who comes by here or when and how many people think like Dr. Ronald Pies, MD?  How does one have enough intellect to graduate medical school and yet be so ignorant about basic facts and reality?  It doth boggle the mind.  I like seeing good responses to stupid ideas wherever and whenever possible.

George Mason U. economist Don Boudreaux has an incisive letter to the Boston Globe yesterday that helps one to understand what real rights and “rights ” that consist of forcing others to do one’s bidding are:
Here’s a letter to the Boston Globe:
Ronald Pies, MD, asserts that every individual has a “right” to “basic health care” – meaning, a right to receive such care without paying for it (Letters, Dec. 26).
The rights that Americans wisely cherish as being essential for a free society require only the refraining from action.  Your right to speak freely requires me simply not to stop you from speaking; it does not require me to supply your megaphone.
Not so with a “right” to “basic health care.”  Elevating free access to a scarce good into a “right” imposes on strangers all manner of ill-defined positive obligations – obligations that necessarily violate other, proper rights.  For example, perhaps my “right” to basic health care means that I can force Dr. Pies away from his worship service in order that he attend (free of charge!) to my ruptured spleen.  Or perhaps it means that I have the “right” to pay for my health care by confiscating part of his income.  If so, how much of his income does my “right” entitle me to confiscate?  Who knows?
And if Dr. Pies is planning to retire, do I have the “right” to force him to continue to work so that the supply of basic health care doesn’t shrink?  If Dr. Pies should die, am I entitled – again, to keep the supply of basic health care from shrinking – to force his children to study and practice medicine?
Does my right to basic health care imply that I can force my neighbor to pay for my cross-country skiing vacation on grounds that keeping fit is part of basic health care?
Talking about “rights” to scarce goods and services sounds right only to persons who are economically illiterate, politically naive, and suffering the juvenile delusion that reality is optional.
Donald J. Boudreaux

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