The Right Stuff?

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
September 2, 2007

A recent discussion about the rights and obligations of employees, employers and owners led to a debate about employees' rights, including health care. There are certain basic human rights; surely health care is one of them?

Just what is a right?

The ACLU says rights are things like freedom of speech, association, assembly, press and religion. They think we all have a right to be treated equally under the law and be free from unwarranted intrusion government intrusion into our personal affairs.

One signpost of a right is that the extension of a human right to one person does not restrict a human right of another. In other words, human rights are not finite.

If granting a benefit to one person comes at the expense of another human, then that benefit is not a right ' it is a privilege. The protection of one right does not abrogate the right of another.

Now what about health care?

When we say health care is a right, that is a much stronger statement than saying everyone ought to have access to medical care. It is not the same thing as saying our country is wealthy enough that we ought to be able to take care of the poorest among us.

When we say it is a right, we are saying that health care is something that exists in infinite abundance, and that giving health care to one person doesn't take something away from someone else.

'Free' health care fails on that point. Someone has to pay for it.

If you're reading this column, the odds are pretty good that you don't go to the emergency room for sniffles. Try this. Quit thinking about the plight of the needy in terms of their 'rights.' That almost allows you to place the burden for solving the problem on someone else.

Think about your opportunities to privately address needs. If you'll do that, many of the social ills that we often look to government to fix can be solved by our own individual efforts.

* * *

As a blessed person, you have a small opportunity next Saturday to fulfill a human obligation. The Second Harvest Food Bank will have its 16th Annual Tim Kerin Memorial Drive at the first UT home football game. Tim was the athletic trainer at UT until his sudden and untimely death in 1992.

He wasn't rich or famous. He was a guy who understood that he could best help the world by giving to others, not by taking from them. This is personal for me. I was one of more than a thousand young men for whom Tim served as a surrogate father during college.

You likely didn't know him, but you know someone like him. Please honor that person with your donation this week. You will be helping feed more than 110,000 people each month, a third of whom are children.

No one can make you do it ' and that's one of the things that makes it so right.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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