In the May 13th Senate Budget Committee hearing about Medicare for all, committee chair Bernie Sanders asked the expert witnesses whether they believed healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. They all answered yes.
I disagree vehemently. Not based on my belief but based on how nature grants us no rights, not even to life. So, when we issue rights to ourselves, without nature preceding and enforcing those rights, we are fooling ourselves.
Cause Over Consequence
As I wrote in a previous article, we have a personal responsibility for our health. Our wellness is genetically determined and greatly influenced by the way we live our lives. The United States is the second most obese country globally, after Mexico. And thus, the compounding diseases stemming from obesity killing 40,000 people every month(!), already puts an enormous strain on the healthcare system, regardless of how it works.
In all fairness, not all obese got to that point by apathy. Life is brutal and unforgiving in the U.S., without much of a safety net. More than 57% of Americans do not have more than $500 in savings, meaning they cannot afford to eat the food that keeps them healthy, let alone go to a dentist. You can exercise all you want, but without access to good fuel, especially from an early age, your arteries and overall health will be impacted for the remainder of your life.
Different Strokes For Different Folks
So, to suggest because other countries can make universal healthcare work, we could also, using the same parameters and costs, holds no water. The problem we have is that the cause of our poor state of health originates from the poor state of the systems of humanity we put on top.
We have built constructs without a guiding theory that, in the words of Albert Einstein, determines what can be discovered. When you have constructs that systemically restrict mobility, and enslave people that keep them tied to minimum wage labor, you ignore the merit of individual success and thus prevent people from getting ahead and prevent people from chasing who they could become.
The American Dream never was, for dreams are to each his own.
Rights Paired With Obligations
Rights come with obligations, as your parents should have bestowed upon you. You get a reward, a temporal right perhaps, when you have accomplished something that serves more than your own interests.
The U.S. constitution ignores that notion, but, in fairness to the founding fathers, was never expected to be used and frozen for this long. It stipulates rights to freedom, without imputing that any kind of freedom requires paradoxical rules and obligations to freedom. A big mistake, and the reason why the U.S. Constitution ought not to be used to infer human excellence.
Unchain My Heart
As a former European, I believe in universal healthcare that is not tied to a job. Not tied to the whims of, often badly run, commercial endeavors that through employment at will, with the right to fire you without advance notice, can immediately strip you from access to healthcare. Sure, COBRA, winddown insurance exists but is unaffordable to most, and temporary.
This universally accepted form of employment in the U.S. is the greatest driver of widespread enslavement and fear of the American people. The desperation to survive is palpable with its disingenuous behavior on display in every class of American life.
My point is that we cannot issue rights without obligations. But we must make the obligations as achievable as the rights. If a child wants a piece of candy, the reward should be made achievable, or the child won’t even try. If healthcare is considered a right, the paradoxical obligation of being well must be made achievable. And with the constructs we have conjured up, leaning on a 235-year-old constitution lacking a human theory, there is no way the obligation of becoming well is achievable.