Healthcare is Not a Right

January 15, 2017
January 15, 2017 Tim Preuss

Healthcare is Not a Right

As the Trump presidency nears, many fear what his first days will include. According to Mr Trump, his first action will be to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. This notion has driven mass numbers of people to the streets in protest.

The very fact that people are marching in the street conjures up thoughts of the people of Greece rioting when their retirement “rights” are taken away. Any cut in government welfare is deemed as an act against humanity, that someone’s rights were violated, and that the magical money tree just needs to be shaken a little more.

Among the banners waved are ones that read “Healthcare is a human right”. One could easily come up with statistics that show that Obamacare is not working well, with insurance prices rising at record breaking rates in many states around the country. Some states are seeing increases of over 100%.

But statistics pale in comparison to logic and reason. Anyone can gather statistics that supposedly prove they’re right, but when put to the test of moral consistency, few of the liberal’s ideals can hold up. The key is to start at the bottom; the lowest common denominator. Logical deduction goes a long way in determining public policy.

Step one – what are our rights? The most basic are the rights to life, liberty, and property. It is morally wrong to restrict someone’s right to life (murder them), liberty (enslave them), and their right to property (steal from them). So far we should all be on the same page. No matter who the person is, it is unacceptable to kill (with the exception of self defense), enslave, or steal.

As long as we agree here, we can move onto step two. (If you don’t quite understand step one, please read John Locke’s Second Treatise before continuing.) Step two applies pretty simply – it’s wrong to steal, right? Therefore, it’s wrong to take someone’s money, regardless of the reason. Even if stealing means paying for someone else’s healthcare – it’s wrong. Charity is different than theft. Charity is voluntary, theft is involuntary.

The only way to pay for someone’s healthcare, unless people give voluntarily, is through force – i.e. theft. Even if giving to the needy is a worthy cause, stealing (taxation) is not the moral way to achieve it. How else can “healthcare as a right” be achieved unless through force, which would mean it violates other preceding rights, making it invalid.

Deeming a product or service a right also means that someone else has the obligation to provide it. Taken this to its logical ends would mean that doctors are obligated to treat every patient, regardless of their own personal will to do so.

Barack Obama famously declared that the Constitution listed “negative rights”. Many took this as an insult, but what it really meant was that the government does not have the right to do XYZ. A positive right, by contrast means that people are entitled to a certain level of living, a certain right to STUFFYour right to stuff means someone else has the obligation to provide stuff, which would violate their right to property. It is wrong to steal.

Regardless of what Trump plans to “replace” Obamacare with, the philosophy of rights is the same. A government program that steals from one to give to another, regardless of intentions, is morally WRONG. It is on this ground that the argument against government-run healthcare must be fought. It is not Trump-care versus Obamacare. It is property rights versus theft.




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Tim Preuss

Tim Preuss is the founder and CEO of Preuss Media LLC. Along with writing for, he hosts the Tim Preuss Podcast Monday through Friday, available on iTunes, and regularly interviews prominent personalities within the liberty community.
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