An internet diary
Published on March 4, 2008 By IanTyger In US Domestic

In the comments to my previous article on the Rights of Man, this was posted by Locamama:

So you think that healthcare is a priviledge?  I'm not talking about fake boobies and viagara, I mean basic healthcare?  I'm one of those leftist wannabe socialists who thinks that basic healthcare is a right. 

Healthcare is indeed a privilege; it is not a right possessed by the "lonely man". It is a privilege because in the end you must force another person to work for you, therefore it cannot be a right. Likewise I do not believe in the "right" to work (forces someone to employ you), much less the "right" to a minimum or living wage (forces someone to potentially pay you more than your labor is worth).

If it requires that anyone else take a positive action for you to receive the benefits, it is not a right, it is a privilege. That having been said, a functioning society must grant certain privileges to its members, and should grant others to them. Likewise, an individual member of a functionaing society should expect to exercise his rights with discretion.

A functioning society can and should restrict the unlimited exercise of rights, if these restrictions meet the requirements of Strict Scrutiny: the restrictions serve a compelling societal interest, they are narrowly tailored to meet that interest, and are least restrictive means for achieving that interest.

With that in mind, lets take a look at the USA concept of Miranda Rights. We've all heard them on TV - but just in case, they are typically read off a card with the following verbiage: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

  • You have the right to remain silent. This is a right afforded the "lonely man". He cannot be forced to speak, as this would be a violation of his freedom of thought and expression. This is also a right that he will be forced to forego later, in the courtroom, as he will be forced to swear to "tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". Thus, a right that has been abrogated by social contract, as it meets all three prongs of the Strict Scrutiny test, especially as, per the 5th amendment, he does not have to incriminate himself, so he can still remain silent in certain circumstances, and there are certain other common-law rights to not speak under questioning. It is more important to society that the truth come out (compelling interest), the requirement is narrowly tailored (only the truth, and there are exceptions to what can be compelled), and it is the least restrictive means avialable (we aren't reading minds or forcing questions outside the subject at hand). IMHO a forced polygraph is a violation of the "lonely man's" right to freedom of thought (without consent), even if it were 100% accurate (it is decidedly not). The "lonely man" can abrogate this right and speak freely if he prefers. If he lies, this is a violation of society's privilege to "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" that the social contract has granted society, and may lead to restrictions on the "lonely man's" rights.
  • You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. This is also a right afforded the "lonely man". He has a right to be secure in his person and possessions, and may therefore employ another to defend himself. Now, as with all other rights, it can be freely abrogated by the "lonely man" (he is not required to have an attorney present), but unlike the previous right, he will not be forced to forgoe this right later in the courtroom.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. This is a privilege the US society has determined will be extended to any member of the society. It derives from the right to an attorney, but it is not itself a right; as it requires another to take a positive action in your favor. As a society, we have determined (through our representatives on the Supreme Court) that the right to hire an attorney is not enough, we must be guaranteed representation as a privilege of living in our society.

My wife just challenged me to define why driving is a privilege and not a right - the best I can do is that you are operating a potentially deadly piece of heavy machinery with only limited required training in a public venue. If it is a right, it is a right that may be limited by society to a certain extent. Please note that driving in the US is very loosely regulated (minor proficiency test, no proficiency retest, nominal fee for the privilege); and that only for driving on public property.

There is certainly room to argue what privileges should be extended to members of our scoiety, but starting with the premise that anything other than the basics is a right is not the way to do it.


Comments
on Mar 04, 2008

You make some good points here.

Another point that is important... When a person has the need for a lawyer, they can only be provided the services of lawyers who have agreed to offer their expertise to "those who cannot afford it".  In other words, no lawyer can legally be forced to represent you against their will.

In the case of medical services as a "right", no doctor, nurse or other provider can be legally forced to have you as a patient.  Just as with the lawyers, there are ways a medical professional can volunteer their services to those who cannot afford it, but it is the provider, not the law that is making the choice.

Socialized or "universal" healthcare requires providers to give up their right to choose whether they will offer their services to those who "cannot offord" it.  In other words, it violates many of the Constitutional Rights of providers.

The only way universal healthcare could be Constitutional is if there were a public healthcare system as well as a private system, and healthcare professionals are free to choose whether they want to participate in the public system or not.

on Mar 04, 2008

Very good, both you and Parated.  I agree.

on Mar 04, 2008
My wife just challenged me to define why driving is a privilege and not a right - the best I can do is that you are operating a potentially deadly piece of heavy machinery with only limited required training in a public venue. If it is a right, it is a right that may be limited by society to a certain extent. Please note that driving in the US is very loosely regulated (minor proficiency test, no proficiency retest, nominal fee for the privilege); and that only for driving on public property.


Tell your wife, any court will tell you that driving a car is a privilege afforded to you by the state, which has the power to revoke that privilege at any time unless your profession is driving in which case you may appeal on the grounds that the revocation of the privilege to drive impinges on your right to earn a living.
on Mar 04, 2008

I know that - I am the one arguing (in this context) that operating a motor vehicle on public roadways is a privilege.

I'm not going ot argue based on court decisions - I happen to think much of the 4th Amendment jurisprudence (for example) is wrongly decided.

I could even make the argument that driving is a right; but on balance, if it is, it is a right that is given up in exchange for the social contract.

on Mar 04, 2008

IanTyger:

I could even make the argument that driving is a right; but on balance, if it is, it is a right that is given up in exchange for the social contract.

The use of your property (your car) is a right, however, using it on public roads is a privilege.

on Mar 04, 2008

The use of your property (your car) is a right, however, using it on public roads is a privilege.

Which I clarified in my comment just before yours

on Mar 05, 2008
Yup, you did.
on Mar 15, 2008

Rights are basically something you are born with.  The government does not give you rights, they simply protect them, do not protect them, or all together violate them.  All you have a right to are things like your body and the fruit of your labor.  You only have a right to healthcare if you are able to provide it to yourself, like stich up your own wounds.  Otherwise, you have to convince someone else that they should provide you with the care.  It's not an automatic thing.  We just have a system set up that gives the allusion of the right to healthcare.  You can't force people to become doctors and if there are no doctors, then how could you exercise your right to healthcare?

on Mar 15, 2008
You can't force people to become doctors and if there are no doctors, then how could you exercise your right to healthcare?


Exactly! The only way you could have a "right" to someone else's services is if you owned the other person.
on Mar 16, 2008
You only have a right to healthcare if you are able to provide it to yourself, like stich up your own wounds. Otherwise, you have to convince someone else that they should provide you with the care. It's not an automatic thing. We just have a system set up that gives the allusion of the right to healthcare. You can't force people to become doctors and if there are no doctors, then how could you exercise your right to healthcare?


This is true in the American system, but there are other systems.

Where the education of the doctor is paid for by the state, it's not an unreasonable assumption that the healthcare provider has a responsibility to provide health care to those deemed appropriate by the citizenry. Refusing to provide service is a betrayal of trust and a breaking of the covenant with the people that was made when training was provided.

In a public healthcare system of course it's much more clear - the people pay for the healthcare to be universal, therefore doctors who choose to sign up with the service have no choice in their patients. If they want choice they can move somewhere else. It's a global labour market, so you if you don't like the country you're working in, go somewhere with laws that suit you better.
on Mar 16, 2008
Still, if there are no doctors, then you cannot get healthcare. However, if there is no one around to listen, you still have the right to speak. You still have the right to act. Rights are not something that are contingent upon what government you are in. You have them by the very fact that you are born. It is only up to the government to protect them. If you cannot exercise it without someone else's participation, then it is not a right.
on Mar 16, 2008
Rights are not something that are contingent upon what government you are in.


Excellently put! And love your explanation of Health care too!
on Mar 16, 2008
Healthcare is indeed a privilege; it is not a right possessed by the "lonely man". It is a privilege because in the end you must force another person to work for you, therefore it cannot be a right. Likewise I do not believe in the "right" to work (forces someone to employ you), much less the "right" to a minimum or living wage (forces someone to potentially pay you more than your labor is worth).


I agree healthcare is a privilege and once the presidential candidates are chosen, we'll see that healthcare is going to be one of the front topics of debate.

Yes, as far as "right to work". Because work is natural to man, we do have a right in justice to work and a right in justice to a living wage. Every man has a right to the necessities of life and can enforce that claim on his fellow man. The State has a duty to safeguard the natural rights of its citizens and working is one of them. It's obligation of justice and charity the State should regulate and encourage, not dominate and absorb.

Society and in practice government, has the duty of bringing about economic conditions which will make it possible for every employer to pay just wages according to the value of work done. When a person works, he exchanges his power, capacity, energy, or labor, (things which are part of himself) for a wage. The only way in which a man can live decently is by hiring out his labor. By this means he has the right in justice to work.





on Mar 18, 2008

I guess I should say that while the "lonely man" has a right to work, he does not have a "right" to be paid for it. (In fact, if he wants to continue to live, he'd better work).

Justice is no more a right of the "lonely man" than healthcare is. The perception of justice is a requirement for a society to function; if too many members of a society see that society as unjust, the society ceases to function properly.

Every man has a right to the necessities of life and can enforce that claim on his fellow man.

Wrong as a matter of "natural" right; possibly not even correct as a matter of societal justice. I have no "right" to anything of yours save what you voluntarily give me. Voting to force you to give it up as a requirement to participate in society may be coercion (the power of the State is being used to force you to give up your rights in your property).

on Mar 18, 2008
I guess I should say that while the "lonely man" has a right to work, he does not have a "right" to be paid for it.


Good we agree that mankind has a right in justice to work.

(In fact, if he wants to continue to live, he'd better work).
We agree again. Mankind is obliged to preserve his life (as well as those he is responsible for), and unless he is already provided that by lawful means, then he is obliged to work.

All workers also have a right in justice to a living wage. The general principle is that equal must be rendered for equal. The contract between employer and worker must conform to the basic principles of natural justice and human dignity (although throughout the world grave injustices have arisen).

Lula posts:
Every man has a right to the necessities of life and can enforce that claim on his fellow man.

Wrong as a matter of "natural" right; possibly not even correct as a matter of societal justice. I have no "right" to anything of yours save what you voluntarily give me. Voting to force you to give it up as a requirement to participate in society may be coercion (the power of the State is being used to force you to give up your rights in your property).


Private property is a natural right. Nature confers on man the right to possess things privately as his own. The right of private property is a natural right from the very getgo. When God gave the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal", He acknowledged that men could acquire property to which others had no right. He sanctioned the right to private property and it is therefore just.



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