The Right to Life as it Pertains to Healthcare

This column is in reply to Natural Law and the Affordable Care Act.

I have chosen to further respond to the honest and well poised arguments in favor of the individual mandate by Tarif Haque.

In his most recent article he deals with the false dilemma of a conflict between property rights and the right to life.  This is impossible.

There cannot be a contradiction between natural rights.  A natural right is a fact of nature.  Two facts of nature cannot contradict each other.

So where does this false contradiction arises?  My fellow editor posits that in order to protect the right to life, the right to property must be infringed upon.  In this case, taxation in order to induce activity that provides health care, which is treated as the equivalent of life, to those who do not have it.

It is first important to understand what a natural right is.  As stated above it is a fact, an existent. Life is an existent and the domain of the individual who possesses it.  A man’s life is his. This tautology is the basic principle behind the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

So what is life?  Here we see where the rights to liberty and property come into play.  Life is not simply not death or survival.  Life is action.  Life is growth and conquest of the earth.  Life is liberty and requires it.  A man in chains does not possess his life even if he is breathing because he has lost any use of that life. It is like owning a car that one cannot drive or a painting that is covered by curtains which one is not allowed to move.

“Human life builds and creates. Human life and liberty turn useless grasslands into farms and stones into huts, and houses, and palaces, and skyscrapers.”

Human life is more than simple undirected action.  Human life builds and creates.  Human life and liberty turn useless grasslands into farms and stones into huts, and houses, and palaces, and skyscrapers.  Human life is a production as a means of living and in order to sustain that life.  Man farms not just to survive but to thrive.  As such the right to property is the right to thrive, by means of liberty, which is itself just a part of the right to life.

When you understand the hierarchy of rights and their derivation, you see that there is only one right: Life.  The right to life is not the right to survive.  No human is born with survival.  No human is born with anything but the means to survive and grow.  These are his rights.

So we return to the question of the individual mandate.  Can we infringe on property rights to secure the right to life?  It would be a completely different essay to explain why infringing on property cannot, in the long term, protect survival.  But survival is not a right.  For every human being, death has been a fact, not immortality.

The idea that access to modern American medical care is a natural right seems rather preposterous when you look at it in another light.  How does one propose that Americans have different right from Africans?  If healthcare is a right should we not first cure Malaria before we look to take care of the world’s upper class or as we call them the American middle class?  And how can something be a right to an American in 2012 but not in 1492?  Our ancestors and those who first lived here had no access to proper medical care.  It did not exist.  The idea that one can have a natural right to something that does not naturally exist is rather preposterous.This leads to one final argument.  Where did health care come from?  It did not come from government mandate or nature.  Healthcare is property.  It is the result of human thought, labor and liberty.  To infringe on liberty, through mandate and regulation, in order to give the poor the product of liberty is truly a backwards contradiction.

In summary, one cannot have his cake and eat it too.

If you enjoyed this column, you may like Stephen Allen’s first column on healthcare, Freedom from Nature is not Free.

  • Stephen Allen

    The phrase “All men are (born) equal” is a statement that all men are born as political equals with an absolute right over their own person and consequentially the product of the intellectual (translated into the real world through the physical) effort of their self. It is not an equal claim to all that exists which would include others’ property and consequentially others’ lives.

    Eww Thoreau had a terrible epistemology and metaphysics. That statement is based on the political philosophy of Locke and Rand and are founded in the philosophy of Aristotle. Thoreau was a descendant of Plato not Aristotle. The difference is crucial as Plato considered knowledge to come from intuition and Aristotle thought knowledge to come from observation and logical deduction.

    To take back a portion of the wealth that has been or will be extorted from me through taxes is not immoral and not infringing on anyone’s liberty. Voting or instituting bills that use compulsory taxation to build and run public schools and roads is where the infringement and immorality lie.

  • Stephen Allen

    Also one cannot chain the baker and have cake.