Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spirit of Debate

I had a great exchange this week with some of my pro-universalized-health buddies. I posted a terrific article by my friend-in-bloggage, Stephen Smith, and got quite a response from folks regarding whether health care is a privilege or a right. I stated my belief that it is a privilege, not a right. Here's the conversation that ensued. You decide who won:

Friend 1 - Using that logic, many rights you have as an American citizen would also be considered a mere privilege. The article states that "people have the right to desire whatever they want, but this does not grant them a right to the thing itself, no matter how much they may want or even need it." If that's the case, then you can throw your right to free speech out the window. You can also forget about your right to vote.

Me - The author is talking about goods and services, like computers, health care, gun permits, drivers' licenses, higher education, etc. You're referring to inherent traits of democracy. Voting and free speech are not goods and services, as they cannot be traded or bought. They are something that is fought and died for.

Health care is something that people buy. Therefore, it is a good/service. Analogically, if my car breaks down and my mother is sick in upstate NY and I have no other way of getting to her, I cannot up and demand a competitively-priced car from the government, declaring it as my right just because my own car broke down. You see where I'm coming from?

Friend 2 - why do firefighters put out fires?

Me - I know where you're going with that question, and no, we do not have a RIGHT to having them put out a fire in our houses. We do, however, pay taxes which in turn pay their salary. Therefore, firefighting is indeed a community service in which we are all entitled because we already pay into it. The same applies to the police.

If health care should be our right, then why aren't electricity, faucet water, and natural gas our rights as citizens?

Friend 2 - all of those things you named should be rights!

Me - Then you know what, I want the government to give me a new Ford Focus. 'Cuz it's my right. Cars are necessary to our survival, right? They're not goods, no sir. How about a Blackberry while we're at it? Or a PC? You can't just demand a convenience as your right.

Friend 3 - this author is a jack ass!. Healthcare is something that we want because we think it is "REALLY NIFTY?" Everyone has a right to good health, whether it be better educated on nutrition etc or the very desperate who need help in paying the ridiculous amounts of $$$ to save their lives or their loved ones. You guys are losing me on this "debate"

Me - Read all of the arguments in this thread carefully, and you'll understand exactly why it's a debate.

Do I think it's f-ed up that insurance companies drop cancer patients? Absolutely. But socializing it is NOT the answer. Making me pay for health care for people who destroy their own bodies (hard drugs, smoking, etc) is absurd, and I won't stand for it. That's why I say what I say. We need to address the existing problems, not destroy the private insurance industry.

It's like I said before...If health care, which is a good/service, becomes a right of the people, then what's to stop us from demanding a tax-funded cellphone service? It's certainly a great tool in case of emergencies, just like health care. So what's stopping us from demanding it as a RIGHT, regardless of how it might perform compared to say, Verizon (

Friend 2 - so, you agree that everyone should have healthcare except for addicts? how many people are destroying their bodies from drugs/smoking as a percentage of the population? certainly not close to a majority. shouldn't we enable the addicts get help instead of letting them get sick? the NY quit-smoking hotline is doing very well i hear. isn't it better for everyone that everyone is able bodied and can work, allowing more people to actually contribute to the pool of taxes?

and seriously, no one believes the straw men you keep throwing up with 'tax-funded cell phones', 'govt cars', etc. anyone with some common sense can see why healthcare is different and separate.

did you know, illness causes 50% of all personal bankruptcies?

Me - 1) Why? Why different and separate? Isn't health care an investment, like a car or a computer? Don't people buy policies to fit their circumstances? You're bringing sentimentality into this issue, and that's the problem with so many people involved in this debate. People will immediately say "Well I was injured and had to pay $___ thousands of dollars! I shouldn't have to go broke paying my med bills!" And they're right. But they're ignoring glaring abuse by folks which creates that fear in doctors, making them recommend excessive treatment and driving up prices. It's a vicious circle; let's work on THAT instead of destroying half of the insurance industry. Eliminating frivolous lawsuits are the first step.
2) Why should I have to pay the medical expenses of people who abuse their own bodies? Maybe you're that kind and have that money to spend, but I'm not and I don't.

Friend 2 - you already do pay for the medical expenses of people who abuse their bodies, in the form of horribly overpriced health insurance to offset the other people in the system.

oh, and here is my point all wrapped up for you:

Me - And you could have picked a much better article to make your point!
-The Federal Reserve is one of the biggest antagonists of the economic crisis (, I want that f-ing moron managing my money. Also read "Meltdown" by Thomas Woods).
-The police don't stand guard outside our houses, so they're not protecting anything.
-The weather service is horribly inaccurate.
-The FDA does nothing to protect us (
-Almost every corporation uses UPS/Fed-Ex, because they're faster and more reliable. Personal warehouse work experience on that point.
-There's a new story at least once a week about how inefficient our national defense network is.

There was more to the convo, but these comments comprised the actual debate portion. I'm glad to see that there are still many people out there who might disagree with me, but who still think about their positions and do some research before engaging in debate. I wish there were more people like that in Congress!

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