Healthcare issue raises question of human rights

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
April 8, 2012

During arguments before the Supreme Court about the Constitutionality of the individual mandate portion of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Chief Justice John Roberts challenged the logic of forcing citizens to engage in commerce by comparing the forced purchase of health insurance to a theoretical mandate to purchase emergency services.

I’m not qualified to argue with my wife, much less the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, but it seems that my government already forces me to purchase emergency services, even if I would prefer not to. My local government does it through sales and property taxes. The federal government requires me to purchase tanks and ballistic missiles, even though many citizens would quickly opt out if given the opportunity.

Whether you individually like it and irrespective of that pesky Constitution, we have already seemingly ceded to the government the right to be our self-anointed purchasing agent.

That’s why the elaborate charade of trying to pay for universal health insurance via a personal or employer mandate was a waste of energy. A simpler solution would have been to do it just like we do the police or CIA: have the government provide it for “free,” then include the cost in our taxes.

Therein lies the political problem – and in Washington, the only problems are political ones.

As much as Congress loves to give away free stuff, it hates to increase taxes in any meaningful way. It would rather do it surreptitiously by imposing a purchase requirement on individuals and companies and then call it a free-market solution.

Many people in our country argue that healthcare is something that should be provided in group form, organized by the government, much like our police and military protection.

Then why doesn’t Congress simply increase our taxes and provide healthcare for all? In a country as wealthy as ours don’t we have a right to healthcare?

A challenge in these types of arguments is the definition of a human right. What is a right?

If something is a human right it exists in limitless abundance. The existence or exercise of someone’s rights does not diminish the rights someone else.

Can medical insurance be a right if one man must pay for the insurance of another or be forced against his will to pay for his own? If the government must force a physician to work for free or an individual to pay for something against his will, then the subject of that work or payment is not a right. It is property being transferred from one individual to another.

Can one man claim something as a human right that another claims as property? Hardly. Dred Scott has long been put away.

If Americans want to nationalize the medical industry – like we have national security and parts of the transportation industries – we already have models for doing it.

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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