Really? Health Care is an Inalienable Right?

Glenn Beck this morning dissected remarks that Senator Tom Harkin made following upon the passage of a health care reform bill in the Senate. [Emphasis added in both quotes.]

What this bill does is we finally take that step. As our leader said earlier, we take that step from healthcare as a privilege to healthcare as an inalienable right of every single American citizen.

This is a real leap. True inalienable rights, along with true “human rights”, another phrase that the Senator has used to characterize health care, are on a much higher plane than health care. To define health care as an inalienable or human right is to dilute true inalienable and human rights.
Further, there is the question of where those rights come from – or, more precisely, from where they do not flow. Beck:

Are created equal and endowed by their creator. With certain inalienable rights. Now, that’s important to understand. Because [Senator Harkin] used this language. He used inalienable rights. We have taken it and made it an inalienable right. This is Senator Harkin making, declaring himself and the government God. Our creator. Rights no longer come from the creator. They come from congress. They come from Washington. This is the end of the American Constitution. This is the end or the beginning, I should say the last, the last piece of turn the engine on, of fundamental transformation of the American system. Once they tell you without fear that they can create inalienable rights, the whole system is upside down.

Beck’s point that inalienable rights come from God does not altogether ring with me as I am mostly atheist. I do know that they do not flow from Congress. Senator Harkin’s attempt to accrue to Congress the power to create and define inalienable rights comes across as an excessively paternalistic, disturbing and completely overreaching power trip.

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Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I’m an atheist and I don’t really follow Glenn Beck, but I think his point here is a good one. The government really is trying to set itself up as some sort of god-like entity. What else can you call it when you the government bestows upon you food, housing, education, and health, and you have to live every aspect of your life by its rules written down in its own scripture called law?
Calling health care an inalienable right is just backwards. There is no such thing as a “positive right” since positive rights always involve stealing money from somebody and giving it to somebody else i.e. redistribution of wealth. Nobody can obtain health care, food, housing, or anything else through government without taking it from a different individual. Nobody has a “right” to the product of somebody else’s labor, that is immoral and absurd.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

I’d humbly suggest that this is a point worth thinking through. If rights do not ultimately derive from God, they must derive from the understanding of the people who claim them. In a democracy, the law is presumed to be the will of the people, collectively, which means that they can, through the government, add and subtract from the list.
Your sense that this cannot be true — that some rights are absolute — should be taken as evidence that there must be a God, just as your sense that you must ingest some sort of sustenance to survive is evidence that there is such a thing as food.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

The humanist concept of natural rights as set out by Ayn Rand is the one that most resonates with me. I find it based on solid axioms and built with consistent logic. And she ends up with the same set of rights as the Founders did.
I’m currently reading American Progressivism, a compilation of key writings by the original leaders of the American Left (W. Wilson, T. Roosevelt, J. Dewey, C. Beard). Their contempt for the Constitution and traditional American values is very disturbing. The introduction by Ronald Pestritto and William Atto is an outstanding analysis of the fundamental beliefs of the Progressivists, and traces their origins to the totalitarian statist philosophy founded in Germany in the mid-19th century.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“In a democracy, the law is presumed to be the will of the people, collectively, which means that they can, through the government, add and subtract from the list.”
This right here is the problem with that line of logic. There is no such thing as a “collective will.” There are only individual wills. No two people feel exactly the same way about every issue.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Dan, you must become familiar with the fundamental precepts of Progressivism.
While you are in fact correct, Progressives believe that there a “collective will”. In fact, they posit some sort of meta-being called “society” – Jane Addams named it “the social organism” – as though the collective were the person and each individual like the cells of the body, without free will or independent existence. Because this idea contradicts fact, Progressives have made it a core tenet of their religion, in which they substitute government for God.
Even the early Progressives were expert in the twisting of language for propaganda purposes. Perverting the meaning of “democracy” was one of their first, ironic manipulations. To them, the fact that “the will of the people” had to be dictated to the people by the elite was not a contradiction.
That this inevitably leads to tyranny is lost on the Progressives, each of whom imagines himself to be a member of the ruling elite. Unfortunately for them, the vast majority will turn out to be the Winston Smiths rather than the O’Briens.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

BobN, I’ve never heard it put quite that explicitly before, but I’ve been trying to explain exactly that to the big-government “progressives” I’ve run into around RI and MA for years.
From what I can tell, the delusional element is really at the heart of it. Each of them beholds society, sees its imperfections, and reasons that if the ruling body is given more power and is then hijacked by their own movement, it will be able to fix those imperfections. It never even occurs to them that far more likely the power will corrupt those within their own movement, or that somebody with less than pure motives will take control of the all-powerful golem they have created and that they will then be on the receiving end of whatever tyrannical dictates it is used to enforce. Those of us who are more in touch with reality and human nature realize the only way to prevent this from happening is to keep that golem bound or destroy it in the first place before it can be hijacked for selfish interests. A very wise contributor to Free Talk Live once remarked on the air that he didn’t trust ANYONE to rule over him and use the power of government responsibly, even the most libertarian and well-meaning of his own movement. Contrast that caution with the progressive machine’s constant insistence that everything will be solved if only they can get “their guys” into office, if only they are given the power “they need.”

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

–“I’m currently reading American Progressivism, a compilation of key writings by the original leaders of the American Left …”
Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” is also illuminating as to the history of Progressives in the United States and their kindred Fascists in Europe.
Collectivism (fascism / progressivism / socialism / communism) at best brings the sclerotic economies of Europe (ultimately heading for bankruptcy, the sovereign counterparts of, e.g., General Motors).
At worst it brings us Soviet Gulags and Cambodian Killing Fields and Chinese Cultural Revolution (costing about 70 million Chinese their lives).
I don’t know which vision Obama holds for America, but his vision (and that of his fellow Democrats) is something between the sclerosis and the Gulags.
Let us not forget that Lenin promised “Land, Peace and Bread.” He delivered Gulags killing millions and poverty for the rest (except the Party officials).

Jim Glass
11 years ago

Regarding health care as “an inalienable right”, some thoughts on “rights” and their meaning from a somewhat different perspective.

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