How to argue against those claiming health care is a positive right

Health care is a negative right. People certainly have the right to health care, but as long as acquiring it or financing it does not impose any sort of involuntary obligation upon third parties. In essence, John is more than free to seek medical attention or have health insurance, but not if such action requires Paul to, say, cover part of John’s health care costs. To the libertarians/classical liberals amongst us, it’s common sense.

However, supporters of the socialization of health care, such as the proponents of H.R. 3962 or H.R. 3200, argue that it’s a positive right. They would say that John is able to get his medical attention, and dammit, he can make Paul subsidize the monetary (or potentially even other) costs of that decision.

Arguing against specific legislation is one thing, but the best way to put the kibosh on things like H.R. 3962 is to defeat the underlying premise in which it is built. In the current case, it’s that health care is a positive right.

In my most recent column, I directed a couple of questions to those claiming health care as a positive right. However due to space constraints, I didn’t have the ability to elaborate. Fortunately here I do. These I believe are the type of questions that can be used to either get those in support of “health care reform” to realize the error of their ways – or force them to assert what their true colors really are.

Basically, I’m going to do here is give a framework, if you will, for ways to fight the notion that health care is a positive right. I’m going to do this by laying down questions in logical order that I might ask positive right protagonists, why I would ask them, and where it’s taking the discussion.

Let us begin.

Question 1

Given that the supply of health care will be reduced if the legislation is passed due to increased costs and reduced revenues – decreased profits – what would you say has to be done to correct for this shortage?

It’s pretty simple economics showing that if price/profit ceilings are introduced, there is going to be a reduction in supply. A supply curve will graphically demonstrate this. In my column, the question was asked from the perspective that the only options were forcing suppliers to maintain the current supply or not. Clearly those aren’t the only options, as your “victim” is going to say that’s why the government should be an insurance provider, or even *the* insurance provider.

The change was basically a device to keep within space constraints. Not that it matters though – this question is the start of the funnel..

Question 2

Given your view that the government should be an insurer or the insurer, how do think they should keep costs down? Should it be through price caps on procedures and visits?

The idea here is that they will most likely be in support of these price caps. I can’t think of anyways to reduce their costs than imposing a price ceiling on procedures and visits. In the event they start rambling something else, it’s time to think on your feet. Also let me know what they say. If they start making claims of “increasing efficiency”, press them on that – it isn’t going to happen.

Proponents of price caps just walked into the door for the next question…

Question 3

Price caps on procedures and visits will reduce the supply of medical care, as analogous to the question concerning insurance. How would you solve for this shortage?

Would you advocate the rationing of health care – especially by preventing people from getting priority by personally paying more than the government rate?

Would you be for scrapping the price ceilings and subsidizing costs by increasing taxation on wealthy families and individuals?

Would you propose that the government force medical professionals to maintain the supply?

This is where things turn into a choose your own adventure novel. Yet again, they’ll probably stick to the options I’ve laid out, but I’d be curious to hear about other proposed solutions they come up with.

My feeling would be that they’ll most likely go with maintaining level of payments and increasing taxes like the good Marxists they are. After all, advocating progressive tax policies seem to be the new black. To refute that, reference question 4a below.

For the remaining two options, who knows. I’d be willing to say that rationing is more apt to go down the hatch sans chaser than forcing doctors to treat people. If they give the rationing response, there are all sorts of examples to point to in Europe and Canada. Beat them down with those.

However, if they actually believe in forcing doctors, nurses, medical device suppliers, and anyone else involved in the medical field to supply, go to 4b.

Question 4
Before I continue, I’d just like to mention that if you’re this far into questioning, you’re going to encounter two situations. One is that the person you’re dealing with is going to realize the error of their ways. This is good.

On the other hand, you might find yourself dealing with a person who views Marx’s “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” as license to bring back slavery – which of course they will never give it that label. These people, well… I’ll let you decide on how they should be handled.

With that said, here are questions 4a and 4b

Question 4a

If those being forced to subsidize health care costs basically pull a John Galt and refuse to work any more, living off their current money supply and/or other self sustainment, what would you say the government do then?

This is where you let them hang themselves. This is the kind of stuff that’s analogous to what astrophysicists do – come up with potential ideas based on theory, but haven’t no real empirical data to go off of. I’ve yet to get the chance to ask someone this, so I don’t know how they would respond.

However my guess would be that they would respond in one of two ways:

  1. That “The government should do nothing” to which they either concede defeat or you pressure them on the fact that the socialization of health care won’t work without it and they concede defeat at that point. Or:
  2. That the government force them to provide for the sustainment of the program. One way might be through the requisition of their bank account(s) and/or expropriating possessions and hard currency. Another way might even be by forcing them to work.

If it’s the later, as I mentioned, I’ll let you determine how you want to deal with this person.

Question 4b

If those being forced to provide their services/products decide to defy government orders and stop, what do you propose then?

This question is pretty much like 4a, but for those actually offering the medical products and services. They’ll either realize their wrong or make it known that they’re all for making you address them as ‘Massa’.

Final words and thoughts
Obviously dialogue can’t really be relegated to some overly simplified decision tree – there are an infinite number of paths that lead to the end goal. What I tried doing here was give a frame work for fleshing out how the person you’re debating with really stands. A couple detours might be taken on the way to the destination of them realizing they’re wrong or in effect Stalinist in terms of how they think the government should handle such “dissidents”.

I hope that this post might give you some ammo to take to the next fight. However, as always, if you have any critiques of what I’ve written, let me know. As I claim that government certainly doesn’t know all, I must say the same for myself.

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