I wandered into this contribution on the Huffington Post. It argues, in a comically bad fashion, that health care is not a "right." It also argues that the government is bad. In any case, you know your critical faculties will not be too challenged when you read:
Historically, the huge rise in health care costs began in the 1960s, when Medicare and other programs threw billions of dollars into the industry. Fiscally, Medicare is approaching monumental insolvency, with liabilities in the range of twenty-trillion dollars. To create another bureaucratic labyrinth now — which advocates are proud to say will cost only a trillion dollars over ten years — all but guarantees higher prices, and a greater crisis in the next decade.
Will the advocates of a "bureaucratic labyrinth," different from the bureaucratic labyrinth of the cable TV company or your own private health insurer, please raise their hands. So no one does. The fact that this guy had to weasel that one in there gives you the measure of the rest of the piece.
The major problem is yet to come:
The reason is that advocates of government medicine are upholding health care as a moral right. The moral goal of a "right" to health care is blinding people to the cause and effect relationship between government actions and rising prices.
But the very idea that health care — or any good provided by others — is a "right" is a contradiction. The rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence were to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Each of these is a right to act, not a right to things. "To secure these rights governments are instituted," which means to secure the rights of each person to exercise his or her liberty in pursuit of his or her own happiness.
I would say in the first place that there is no evidence that the causal assertion here has any purchase on reality.
Second, as the asinine invocation of the Declaration of Independence makes clear, the author of this piece doesn't care for a serious discussion of rights. He's content to assert that the rights enshrined in that particular document are exhaustive. I think that kind of begs the question. It assumes, in other words, what is in need of proof. But I also think his conception of what other people mean by rights suffers from a kind of equivocation. Maybe they don't mean "rights" in the same way he does. If they mean something else, which they most certainly do, then he's guilty of an equivocation.
Does this mean that health care is a right? No of course not. Does it mean that it is not, not on this argument. We deserve a better discussion about health care than the one we are currently getting. This goes for everyone, of course, but in particular it goes for the opposition.