you keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means.

Yesterday morning, on my weekly sojourn into town for Dadcation Day, I spotted a bumper sticker in the Borders parking lot that had me shaking my head:


Now, health care is certainly an important commodity.  I sure like being able to see a doctor when something ails me, and to get my teeth cleaned and fixed on occasion.  I’m also a big fan of antibiotics, x-rays, vaccinations for the kids, and all the other medical advances that have doubled human lifespans in just a few generations.  Health care is great, and I wouldn’t want to be without access to it.

But a “human right”?  Hippie, please.

I have no doubt that the owner of the thusly-stickered car considers him- or herself to be educated, informed, and thoroughly on top of things.  By proclaiming health care a “right”, however, he or she demonstrates a rather galling unfamiliarity with the nature of rights.

Let’s get the most obvious point out of the way first.  You cannot have a right to something that necessitates a financial obligation on someone else’s part. 

When you look at our Bill of Rights, which enumerates (not “grants”) a bunch of rights, you won’t find a single Amendment in there that recognizes the right to receive a material commodity, free of charge or otherwise.  In order for me to let you enjoy all the rights enumerated in that fine document, all that’s required of me is to leave you the hell alone, which doesn’t cost me a penny.  Your rights to free speech, to free exercise of your religion, or to be free from unreasonable search and seizure do not make the slightest dent in my wallet or my schedule.  The Second Amendment refers to a physical commodity (arms), but it only recognizes that you have the right to own a gun if you have the desire and means to acquire one, not the right to get one for free from the rest of us.

If you promote health care to a human right on the same level with freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, or freedom of speech, you face an interesting quandary.  Health care, unlike all those other things mentioned, is a commodity, exactly like the bread and milk on the shelf at your grocery store.  That commodity needs to be created and distributed by other people.  Doctors aren’t made by waving a Magic Government Wand, they are educated at medical school.  Penicillin and Tamiflu don’t grow on trees in some publically-owned grove, they are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies.  If you have a right to all those things, then those doctors and medical companies have the duty and obligation to provide you with it.

Now picture every single doctor, hospital, and pharmaceutical plant in the country closing overnight.  The doctors are sick of piling on a quarter million in student loans just to work sixty-hour weeks for crap pay and the risk of ruinous lawsuits.  From sea to shining sea, every single doctor in every specialty just closes shop, and takes up basket weaving or Slabovian folk dance instead.

What happened to your “right” to medical care? How are you going to claim that right when nobody is able to provide that exam, or make you that blood pressure medication?

Oh, I know that the argument put forth by the owner of that bumper sticker would be something along the lines of “government has/should have the duty to provide it.”  The problem with that, of course is that government doesn’t actually produce anything to provide.  Government isn’t in the business of creating stuff, it’s in the distribution business—widget A shuffled to consumer B, for a not-so-small cut of the profits to feed all the people working in the distribution center.  Government takes a resource from someone, allocates or transforms it (tax dollars to asphalt to roads, for example), and then redistributes it.  The government cannot provide you with health care directly, it can only take someone’s money and pay some doctor or pharmacist to do the job.  What would the government do if all the doctors in the country just didn’t want to be doctors anymore, and all the medical students followed suit as well and dropped out?  If health care is a human right, shouldn’t the government then be able to arrest all those doctors and bring them up on federal charges of human and civil rights violations?  If health care is a human right, shouldn’t the government be able to charge any doctor thusly who refuses to treat a patient for free right now?

In fact, why stop there?  If health care is a human right, surely food has to be bumped to the same status?  I mean, lack of health care means you’ll die sooner, possibly in a decade or two—but lack of food means you’ll die in a few weeks.  Why don’t we just make food a human right, too, and seize the means of production over at Wonder Bread to make sure they won’t profit from their bread while people starve, deprived of the inalienable human right to stuff themselves with free starchy carbs?  And why stop there? Is the all-you-can-eat buffet over at CiCi’s Pizza a human right, too? Can we bring up the folks at Denny’s for human rights violations if they dare present us with a check at the end of the meal?

Health care is important, and awesome, and I’m a huge fan of it.  It is not, however, a human right.  It’s a commodity just like any other product and service, and thus cannot be a right by definition.  Calling it a “human right” sort of makes a mockery of the term, since actually treating it like a human right would make a whole class of professionals slaves to the rest of us.

66 thoughts on “you keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means.

  1. s says:

    Well put! Healthcare is NOT a human right. I cringed during Obama’s State of Union address, when Pelosi stated that healthcare is a right. I shake my head when our elected leadership refuses to accept junior high school civics.

  2. Shootin' Buddy says:

    “The Second Amendment refers to a physical commodity (arms), but it only recognizes that you have the right to own a gun if you have the desire and means to acquire one, not the right to get one for free from the rest of us.”

    The RKBA/Second Amendment started off, in England and in Colonial America, as a positive right and a duty. If one could not afford a firearm in the Colonies, then one was provided at public expense.

    The government now subsidizes arms, ammunition, hunting lands and shooting ranges just as it subsidizes health care for the poor.

    If one insists on that the Bill of Rights in a negative charter, then one runs smack dab into Gideon v. Wainwright. If one cannot afford an attorney, the Bill of Right affords that one is provided at public expense.

    If one takes your path, then the position of “health care is a right”, which could be provided to individuals just as guns and lawyers, seems far stronger.

    • Marko says:

      Doesn’t quite fly.

      I’ve thought about the whole jury trial/public defender thing, but it’s not really the same.

      We provide stuff to defendants at public cost to satisfy the government’s obligation to honor the relevant amendments in the Bill of Rights. If the government is bound to ensure adequate representation or the availability of a jury of one’s peers, then the government is obliged to come up with the coin to satisfy those requirements. Safeguarding an individual’s enumerated rights against government infringement are one of the few instances where a public expense is necessary and justified.

      • perlhaqr says:

        So, the government has to mug me for money in order to protect me from the government infringing on my rights. I think I’ve seen this movie!

        “Nice life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness you’ve got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.” –Don Barack Corleone

    • Jake says:

      “If one takes your path, then the position of “health care is a right”, which could be provided to individuals just as guns and lawyers, seems far stronger.”

      The key differences are that the government is the one prosecuting you (you don’t get a court-appointed attorney in civil cases, only criminal), and the right to an attorney is guaranteed in the Constitution (6th Amendment). Prosecuting crimes is one of the legitimate functions of the government.

      As for providing guns, that was a consequence of not having a significant standing army – they weren’t providing guns to citizens, they were providing guns to the militia (another legitimate function of the government – national defense). The corollary to that is that members of the militia were required to pay for their own weapons, if they could afford them.

      Since the current standing army is (theoretically) sufficient for the defense of the nation, there is no need to require citizens to be armed as part of the militia, and no need to provide guns to those who can’t afford them.

  3. Brad K. says:

    But, what about education, is that a human right? Haven’t the courts held that keeping certain “protected class” people out of colleges violates their civil rights?

    And the government certainly can provide health care. They already do, to our sons and daughters in uniform. All it takes is to draft people to study medicine, and assign them to clinics and hospitals to provide health care. The government can draft (and prosecute deserters) as many as they want to.

    This is *not* an issue to get smug or complacent over. Yes, Obama Care will likely cause hospitals to go broke, and doctors to quite to get away from strangling regulations and directives that prevent the best health care for the patient in front of them – but B. Hussein Obama seems quite capable of drafting for either army or the military social police he promised when campaigning.

    Congress has already passed several of the parts of the planned internal military structure, including military reservations, establishing six regional districts. By executive order, Obama decreed that only union labor can be hired for federal construction.

    Just look at the apology Oh! Bummer gave, after calling the Camden police force “stupid”. This is not a leader lacking in a fanatical sense of self importance.

    • Marko says:

      Education, like health care, isn’t a human right, because you can’t have a right to something that needs to be provided by someone else.

      This refers to formal, schoolhouse-type education, of course. The learning process itself is as much a human right as the right to self-defense, and even harder to suppress.

      • Nick says:

        What I have to say may not offer a solution so it is, in a sense, counterproductive:

        Health care should not be considered a right by your definition of “you can’t have a right to something that needs to be provided by someone else”. However, all people should have health care so they get a chance to obtain “life, liberty, and happiness”.

        After all, who can attain those three things without a good check-up once in a while?

      • og says:

        “After all, who can attain those three things without a good check-up once in a while?”

        Everyone. Education, like healthcare, falls under “pursuit”. You can seek a good education,or good healthcare, and you have the right to do so unencumbered. But you do not have the right to pick other people’s pockets in that pursuit. You pursue that happiness, be it healthcare, or an education, or a new ferarri,or a fine british double rifle, to the ability that you can. If you cannot get what you want, you better damned sure be happy with what you can get, or improve your ability to get it your own self, before you come picking my pocket.

      • Nick says:

        To og:

        You obviously didn’t understand my point. They key point is in the middle paragraph, where I say all people should have health care. I never said anything about this being the way it should be or otherwise. I’m merely stating what I think health care is.

      • og says:

        You obviously do not understand what a right is.

  4. Chang says:

    “hippie, please” is my new bumper sticker.

  5. Don Meaker says:

    Shoes. I think before we give the government control over medicine, we should try them out on shoes.
    Imagine. Government shoes. Government designed shoes. Government distributed shoes. Everyone gets the shoes alloted to them by the government. Everyone gets only the shoes allocted to them by the government. Noone is permitted to compete with the government in shoes. Government approval of size, color, style, and permitted design. Noone is is permitted to produce shoes that doesn’t work for the government. If your shoes don’t fit, or are worn out, you can appeal to the government agency for shoes to get a new shoe or shoes. Jail for blackmarketing in shoes. Fines for joggers, and others who excessive consume shoes. Searches for shoe horders. Penalty for shoe horders. More severe punishments for anyone who asserts that things could be better if the government control provide shoes. Before long, we would forget that anyone but the government had ever provided shoes.

  6. ArkieRN says:

    Thank you. You get it! I have a right Not to be enslaved to care for Joe Blow. Just because I chose a healthcare profession does not mean I no longer have any choices left.

    And if things change the way they are looking to, I might just choose a whole new and different profession altogether.

    • Crustyrusty says:

      Amen. I worked for the .gov for 20 years already; I didn’t become an RN so’s I could do it for 20 more. If I wanted to do that I’d work for the VA, or would have taken the Army recruiters up on their offer.

      As an aside, ever notice that the goons that were crying about Walter Reed are the ones pushing for .gov health care? Get a clue, folks… Walter Reed IS government health care, and if you think THAT was bad, wait until they take over the whole thing.

  7. […] but we can’t go so far as to manufacture human rights by shifting the definitions thereof. Marko takes note of a current attempt to do exactly that (emphasis as in the original): You cannot have a right to something that necessitates a financial […]

  8. ChrisB says:


    Just to nitpick a little, it’s really not accurate to say that government doesn’t produce any wealth, if the government builds a road which adds value to people’s lives that is wealth the government has produced.

    • Adam says:

      But in doing so, government takes money from individuals which may have had a greater economic impact in creating (and potentially distributing wealth).

      Of course, this is fundamental issue I have with liberterianism as a principle. I believe all involuntary taxation is unjust – that does not mean, however, that I don’t believe that it has done some good.

      • ChrisB says:

        Why can’t the government go to a bank and borrow the money just the same as a company who wants money for a start-up business?

        Why can’t they get money from people who voluntarily invest in exchange for bonds the govt. issues?

    • Steve Skubinna says:

      Nope. The government hasn’t produced any wealth by building the road, only facilitated those who do produce it. It’s the difference between your internet business and Al Gore inventing the internet. They could build an eight lane superhighway between Barstow and Needles and not put one dime in anyone’s pocket, save the road contactors.

      The point is, the government doesn’t have money. All it does is take it from those who produce it. If it spends that money wisely, it can improve people’s abilities to create wealth. More often, though, it suppresses those abilities.

      The Spanish government was in direct control of all their New World colonies, and they ended up with all the gold, massive inflation, and bankruptcy. The English, on the other hand, set up corporations to establish and manage colonies and not so coincidentally laid the groundwork for the wealthiest nation the Earth has yet seen.

      • ChrisB says:

        If people use the road, and it adds value to their lives then the govt. HAS created wealth. If it’s a road to nowhere in the middle of nowhere then you’d have a point but it could also be a road like you travel on every day.

        As I said above, they don’t necessarily have to seize money in order to build the road. There is also nothing stopping the government from producing products and charging for them.

      • Tam says:

        There is also nothing stopping the government from producing products and charging for them.

        …and they would get the money to “produce these products” from where?

        A) Magic dollar-shitting unicorns.
        B) Taxes.

      • There is also nothing stopping the government from producing products and charging for them.

        Yes there is. All government revenue has to go through appropriations. Which makes it very difficult for any government project to actually make money. Income can and will be skimmed off to pay for budgetary shortfalls in something unprofitable. There is nothing the profitable agency can do about it either.

        and they would get the money to ‘produce these products’ from where?

        C: Bond sales to investors just like anyone else.

      • Well it looks like that formatting didn’t work…

  9. joated says:

    Well put, Marko.

  10. Wild Deuce says:

    Marko, you have delved into this before (What is a right?). I have to say, I didn’t think you could top the last post on this topic. You just did.

    I was about to have this debate at work and started off by saying that there is no Constitutional authority for the Gov to be involved in providing healthcare. My coworker immediately countered with, “I don’t care about the Constitution!”

    I stopped talking right there.

    • ChrisB says:


      Suppose following the Constitution meant we’d have a crap standard of living and very little freedom, would you still insist we abide by it?

      People don’t care about the Constitution, they just want something that works, if you want to sell them on markets as opposed to government you need to give them a different argument than “it’s not allowed by the Constitution”.

      Also, the Constitution DOES allow for govt. run healthcare is the SCOTUS says it does, they can tell you how much wheat you can grow on your own property even if you don’t sell or barter it to another person.

      • Tam says:

        ***bunch of unnecessary words***
        People don’t care about the Constitution
        ***bunch of unnecessary words***

        Fixed your post for you. 🙂

      • Wild Deuce says:

        “Suppose following the Constitution meant we’d have a crap standard of living and very little freedom, would you still insist we abide by it?”

        For the record … Yes, I would. I would however have to grant that your hypothetical choice has plausibility. What scenario do you envision where our current Constitution would cause what you have suggested?

        “… if you want to sell them on markets as opposed to government you need to give them a different argument than “it’s not allowed by the Constitution”.”

        I wasn’t selling my coworker on anything. I was pointing out fact.

        “Also, the Constitution DOES allow for govt. run healthcare is (if?) the SCOTUS says it does, they can tell you how much wheat you can grow on your own property even if you don’t sell or barter it to another person.”

        SCOTUS interprets what the law says. Whether it says that or not is a whole different matter. Current abuses don’t justify new ones.

  11. MarkHB says:


    “Right”. No. No, it’s not. However, short of some kind of revolution, or a large meteor smacking DC off the map, there is a federal government, and it’s here to stay. And as it’s staying, it’s going to sink it’s ever-lengthening fangs into your bank account and suck for all it’s worth.

    So I suggest a new terminology. Healthcare and education are not “rights”. They, as has been cogently and accurately put forth, cost money. As the fedgov is, has been, and will continue to (short of bloody, violent uprising) perform remunerectomy under threat of arms on it’s citizenry, I suggest the phrase “For what we’re paying, healthcare and education should be included in the price”.

    Looking over the grids and spreadsheets, I can’t help but notice that a lot of places in the US have been paying similar ratios of income tax, all told, as the UK for some time now. Darn close to 40% some places, even for the UnRich! And a fair chunk of that is federal taxation.

    So if you’re paying that much, you might as well get your money’s worth. *shrugs* Or unworth, badly administered with backhanders aplenty like the NHS. So don’t take it out on the hippy.

    Take it out on the people who are taking your money.

    That’s my undereducated ivory-tower opinion, anyway.

    • perlhaqr says:

      NO! GOD, FUCK NO!

      I don’t want all the government I’m paying for!

      Actually, I would be much, much happier if they would simply steal from me and then not do their jobs at all. At least then they’d just be thieves, instead of thieves who then spend my own money getting in my damned way!

      If Obama actually gave a flying fuck about making healthcare affordable, he could accomplish that by not taxing me to pay people to make getting care harder. (I threw my back out two weeks ago. I’ve been surviving on old percocet from the last time this happened, because I can’t afford to pay someone with the Imprimateur to write me a scrip for not enough of the damned things anyway, and I certainly can’t just go to the store and buy them on my own, in spite of the fact that I am married to someone who has a doctorate of pharmacy and I actually know what I’m doing.)

      • Murph says:

        Ya know the movie “Its a Wonderful Life”? Sure ya do, they play it a bAjjillion times during the Christmas season. Where does George work as a kid? Thats right a chemist. (swallows rage so can continue typing) PRESCRIPTION FREAKING TOOTHPASTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i cant ytjlype anymore i am so pisseddx.

  12. B woody says:

    I must say, that is by far one of the best examples i have read against healthcare as a right. Nice work.

  13. enlightenedcaveman says:


    The govt. can borrow the money from a bank or they can borrow it from investors until they start turning a profit, just like with private corporations. This isn’t to say that have the government in the bread baking business is a good idea, I’d prefer they stick to roads, courts, and national defense, but we don’t gain anything by spreading false information.

    • Marko says:

      And what would they offer as collateral to qualify for such a loan? Anyone? Bueller?

      • MarkHB says:

        Well, it’s the biggest and most productive economy on the planet old man. That’ll be offering every man-jack on it to qualify as a loan.

        *sighs* Thing is, you look at every other country borrowing it’s arse off, and what do they have, either?

        I have a notion on this one, and I do have some proof of it’s payoff. The word is “Fusion”, and the US has it, physics, engineering arsehole and all. And it will save the human race’s arse. Again. But it won’t be rolled out to market until things are much, much worse than they are now.


        Unlike the other countries, America will meet it’s debt with a planet-saving technology.

        I’d cry on my boot, it I weren’t so proud.

  14. MarkHB says:

    (You *have* all watched Robert Bussard’s (PBUH) presentation to Google where he proves – again and again, irrefutably – that he has positive-gain, provable, cusp-conversion fusion of He3 an H and the lanthanide-weighted fusions? And you can do the math, right? Good. Well, then. You know there’s very little to squabble over.

    • Ken says:

      Mark, I haven’t watched the presentation, but I have a positive nonzero amount of optimism for WB-8 myself. Preach it, brother! 🙂

  15. MarkHB says:

    If you can’t do the math – sorry. You don’t even get to say a word. America has found a way – to the cost of our dearest blood – how to build the heart of a star in six rings of shining metal. If you can’t do the math you don’t have a word to say to me.

  16. egil woxholt says:

    sorry . . . really, but you are very, very confused on this one guys. to wit, this idea that a ‘right’ is innate in the human condition. because there ain’t no such thing, folks. none. what you term a ‘right’ has been bestowed upon you by the society in which you live. end of story.

    actually, i lie. beginning of story:

    take one of you. put you in a forest that contains no other human beings. what ‘rights’ do you have?

    you got it … none. not a one. because there’s no one to give them to you, and no one to take them away from you. do you have a ‘right’ to food? no. you have only an ability, or lack thereof, to feed yourself by your own talents. same goes for shelter. do you have a ‘right’ not to be eaten by whatever animals might inhabit your forest? indeed, you know exactly how far your ‘rights’ will get you in that regard.

    you with me so far?

    so, imagine now that there is someone else in the forest. and this fellow has a gun. all forest-wide, there’s just you and him, he armed and you not.

    we have already established that as an individual you possessed no ‘rights’ whatsoever — that there was no entity who could impose them, donate them, remove them or respect them. they simply did not exist.

    you do however have a shelter, that you built with your own ingenuity. and a trusty zippo lighter, with which you can make your fire, keep warm, and cook whatever food you may forage. man with gun has neither of these things. but he has a gun.

    so, what ‘rights’ do you have now? and what ‘rights’ does he possess?

    you got it — none. no more than you had when you were alone. does he have a ‘right’ to force you at gunpoint to surrender your shelter and your zippo? do you have a ‘right’ to demand that he share his firepower, or the spoils thereof? do you both have the ‘right’ to mutual non-molestation?

    no, no, and no. what you have is ‘choice.’ in the absence of any governing agency you have only a set of decisions based upon individual will. you can choose to share your shelter. he can choose to share the gun. you can choose to refuse his company, and he can choose to shoot you and take your stuff. any protestation that you had a ‘right’ not to be shot would indeed be profoundly foolish.

    but the two of you can ‘choose’ to form a ‘society’, in which the mutual benefits of your separately held ‘property’ are shared equally between all its members. if you ‘choose’ to do so, then there’s a pretty good chance that you both will survive in your forest home, and indeed prosper. you will keep the home fires burning, and he will go out every morning to hunt for food.

    but one night, after you have cooked the evening meal, he will suggest that the two of you indulge in sexual intercourse. (yep, you are, and always were, a woman.) you will refuse. your body is your own, you will say, and it is your ‘right’ that decisions as to its use are yours alone to make.

    again, no. your ‘rights’ have expanded not a jot from their original number, which was zero. no supra-human agency has miraculously imposed them, simply because you are now a ‘society’ rather than two individuals. only your ‘choice’ remains. you may agree by concord that you have the ‘right’ to refuse sex. or not. you may even enshrine this ‘right’ in some form of document, so as to ensure that your ‘agreement’ is not forgotten.

    but never, ever can you alter the fact that, prior to your agreement, your ‘right’ did not exist. it was created by your ‘society’ and, absent that society, disappears from whence it came.

    now, imagine a third person enters your encampment …

    i could go on, and on, but i’m sure you all get the idea, and this would soon become a rehash of a social philosophy 101 class. suffice to say, you people are generally not stupid (i have been reading marko’s blog now for at least three years, which one would not do if it were the work of a moron) but if you’re going to say things like ‘i don’t think that word means what you think it means’ then you really, really should have some actual reasoning to back that statement up.

    ‘rights’ are created by the ‘agreement’ of the members of a ‘society’ using whatever method of ‘government’ they have chosen. in your case its called ‘democracy.’ if the ‘society’ freely and legally elects a ‘government’ which then subsequently decides, given its democratic ‘mandate,’ that all members of ‘society’ have an equal ‘right’ to an acceptable level of ‘health care,’ paid for by that society using an acceptable level of ‘taxation’ on then my advice to you would be to ‘deal’ with it, dudes. even if only for another 3 1/2 years. after that, well, you still have the ‘right’ to vote the fuckers out again, dontcha?

    and that, as our friend jay g says, is all.

    • og says:

      Man, I don’t know what meds you’re on, but I suggest upping the dosage. A lot.

    • Anna says:

      Egil, your rights exist no matter where you are. Doesn’t mean that noone can infringe on them.

      That’s why we had 1776.

      This country was founded specifically to protect those rights. The American government, as outlined in the Constitution, is supposed to protect those individual rights that the British government kept breaking.

      Do you understand that? The government does not GIVE you your rights, it is supposed to PROTECT them.

      Geez. What’s happened to rudimentary civic education in this country?

    • Sara says:

      That was amazingly well-put! I agree. Without some type of societal agreement, “rights” do not exist. And even after said societal agreement, they only exist on paper. All we have is our own ability to create and manage our lives.

  17. egil woxholt says:

    yeah, well, i tried giving it in words we might all understand. here it is in a somewhat more elaborate syntax . . .

    ‘nonsense on stilts!’ gotta love bentham, eh? and, if you go to london, you can see his head.

    thank you, and good night

  18. ibex says:

    This will appear elsewhere on the intartubes attributed to some imaginary Colonel in 3…2…1…

  19. […] Hippie, please. […]

  20. […] Oh, and for those of you that go on about health care being a human right, read this from Marko. […]

  21. og says:

    “really, but you are very, very confused on this one guys.”

    Um, no, we are not. The rights exist independant of ability to protect them. What you’re talking about, in every case, is the inability to protect someone’s rights. It is, at base, remarkably easy to deprive someone of their rights, by force. Sometimes, remarkably little force. But the rights exist still. And healthcare is not a right, but your ability to seek it without interference is. Which of course depends on your ability to pay for it. but “access to” and “Right to” are substantially different things.

  22. John says:

    When you look at our Bill of Rights, which enumerates (not “grants”) a bunch of rights, you won’t find a single Amendment in there that recognizes the right to receive a material commodity, free of charge or otherwise.

    Does this mean that an indigent person does not have a right to be represented by legal counsel at the expense of taxpayers?

  23. Morry says:

    You hit the nail on the head, but particularly with your last sentence. Wish you’d elaborated more on that.

    Rather than limit yourself to a financial obligation for vetoing something’s status as a right, it would be more accurate to say that nothing can be a right if it requires force to extract something from another person in order to get it.

    We earn money by spending our time in some fashion engaged in some activity that we’ve chosen to engage in, usually for the purpose of creating wealth. Money is, literally, time. Thinking time or working time, but time. When you steal wealth from a man, you steal the time he spent to create/earn it. You steal a piece of his life. He has only so many years of life, and every decade, every year, every week, every minute, every microsecond of it is a piece of his life. If you have a right to something he has to produce, then whether its the money from a service he provided or the service itself, from his perspective it amounts to the identical thing. You have enslaved him — forced (ie, involuntary) servitude – for the period of time it took him to do whatever it took to supply your “right.” For if it were correct that medical care or any other economic good is a right, then that would give people the right to force its providers to provide it. It would force them into involuntary servitude for the period of time it takes to produce what you consider your “right.”

    Bottom line a claim to the right to economic goods which must be produced or supplied by others is a claim to the right to enslave others. That’s the unavoidable long and short of it.

  24. Morry says:

    Actually, I should elaborate a little bit further.

    The bottom line is actually one level below the one I previously said it was. It’s the right to one’s own life that is abrogated when someone claims to have a “right” to what he’s produced or what he is able to produce.

    Even the claim that slavery is wrong depends on this more fundamental principle. The reason slavery is wrong is that a man has a right to his own life. Slavery violates this right by taking his right to his own life from him, and forcibly placing his life in the service of the interests of someone other than himself.

    To claim health care as a right is to say that doctors do not have a right to their lives, that YOU own their lives and have a “right” to force them to use their lives according to your needs and dictates. What gives you this right, this right to the life of another man? Why doesn’t he have the right to YOUR life?

    The really awful part of it is that this idea is clung to in areas which are most important. No one says we have a right to hamburgers or a right to sneakers or designer clothing. Medical care is seen as very crucial to a person’s life, something very valuable, something that would be amongst the last things they’d want to give up. Thus, the special evil of this view is that the men and women who are able to provide those who hold this view with their most valued services, are precisely the men and women who receive the worst treatment from their beneficiaries. It is only because the service doctors provide is so highly desired by others, that they choose to reward the deliverers of this valued service by enslaving them.

    That’s the way Ghengis Khan, Hitler, Stalin and others of their ilk operated. It’s not the way civilized men do. It can’t work except in the very short run. You can’t force others to think, nor can you force them to feel inspired, ambitious, creative, interested, devoted, or conscietious at the point of a gun. The values they produced are values of the mind. You can force a well to produce water, but you can’t force a man to think the way you’d like him to.

    The demand, as a right, for products or services which must be produced by other men, is the attempt to enslave men’s minds and their bodies. Neither can work, and either is the wish of an ignoramus or else a corrupt and inhuman soul. Those demanding health care as a right are, literally, wannabe slavemasters.

  25. Ken says:

    The demand, as a right, for products or services which must be produced by other men, is the attempt to enslave men’s minds and their bodies. Neither can work, and either is the wish of an ignoramus or else a corrupt and inhuman soul. Those demanding health care as a right are, literally, wannabe slavemasters.

    Spot on. It is the morality of a Solomon Islands headhunter, and the latter is actually more honest about what he wants from you.

  26. RevolverRob says:

    Breathing IS a human right. And by that, I mean it should be considered a privilege by all of us who enjoy it. That said…Sometimes I really feel like infringing on some people’s human right…

    I know, I know, slippery slope and what not…just sayin’.


  27. Brad K. says:


    A right is a legal concept, not an inventory of the capacities and capabilities of the human animal.

    Our founding fathers stated that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are sufficient grounds for any state to form a new government. Being allowed to breathe is implied, but not stated, by the concept of right to life. It is implemented in the constitution by specifying freedom of unreasonable searches and seizures, forbidding cruel and unusual punishments, and right to bear arms.

    However, breathing is not guaranteed or defended by the constitution. Capital punishment (death penalty), and natural death are both considered reasonable tools and procedures of the government. Just look how B. Hussein Obama plans to, as Victoria Jackson put it, “kill grandmas” by restricting health care to the old and feeble – and likely the retarded, like Hitler did. Only caring and responsible citizens will be able to block this latest assault by the government on breathing. Abortion is an instance where the government allows interference in someone’s breathing.

    Etc. Rights lie in the realm where lawyers dwell, not US Citizens.

    • Nylarthotep says:


      I think you’d find that the founding fathers would disagree with you on the belief that rights are a legal concept. Since you pulled out the declaration of independence for a quote let’s use the whole thing.
      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

      Rights, by their conception are given by the Creator and not any legal system. And since a legal system can become tyrannical, they provided us with the ability to remove such a system. The Declaration of Independence makes a statement that we are allowed to over throw a government, but the constitution doesn’t state is is a right. The second amendment doesn’t give us the right to over throw a government, just the ability to do so.

      Back to breathing. I’m not sure where you are going with the death penalty. The fourteenth amendment allows for the removal of rights only through due process of law. Since breathing is required for maintenance of the right to life, it would indeed be protected and could only be removed through due process. Thus the death penalty is allowed but restricted.

      As for the constitution specifying unalienable rights, it does state in the ninth amendment “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” I think that pretty much covers a persons right to breath.

      The constitution and all the rights of men are not legal concepts but truths onto themselves. That should be understood by every citizen that values the country that we live in. (If we can keep it.)

      • Rick R. says:

        1. The Declaration of Independence, while a moving, historically important, philosophically significant document, is NOT a legal document nor does it have ANYTHING to do with the governeance of this republic. It’s a manifesto and declaration of war.

        2. There is no such thing as an “inalienable” (or “unalieanable”, depending on WHICH version of the DoI you have) right. A right which is inalienable cannot be lawfully taken from the person (under ANY circumstances), nor can the person give it up — that is what “inalienable” means. “Inalienable” doesn;t mean it is something that can be restricted for “the greater good” — by definition, such things are “alienable”.

        Something that CANNOT be taken from a person by any means (legal or otherwise) is not a “right”.

        The government CAN lawfully deprive you of life. In lawful self defence, I can deprive you of life. The government can commit acts of war and deprive many people their lives. Therefore, “the right to life” is not inalienable.

        The government can lawfully deprive you of liberty if you are convicted of a crime. It can temporarily deprive you of liberty while waiting to convict you. Therefore, “the right to liberty” is not inalienable.

        The “pursuit of happiness” is, in fact, “inalienable” — but it is not a right. It iis a simple fact and condition, and you can pursue happiness regardless of your physical state or liberty, so long as you live. It is no more a “right” than my “right” to be male, human, or Caucasian.

  28. […] munchkin wrangler Hippie merchandise. and where it comes from: you keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means. (paragraph […]

  29. […] more when I actually worked at it.” – At the Munchkin Wrangler, a lovely explanation of why health care is not a right. […]

  30. Paul says:

    You were 2-1/2 DAYS ahead of the WSJ !!

    (or maybe, they just read your blog for ideas…)

  31. […] free.”  And on the principled side of things, I’ll turn the proverbial mic over to Marko Kloos: “Health care is great, and I wouldn’t want to be without access to […]

  32. CJ says:

    Very well put. The entitlement mentality that is creeping into our society seems to be constantly evolving and “rights” are being created out of thin air. First we have the right to health care. Next, is the right to food (we all have to eat, right?). Then, there is a right to clothing. And a right to a home. And a right to transportation. And a right to entertainment. Theoretically, it will never end.

  33. Jay says:

    Moron above says: “! I have a right Not to be enslaved to care for Joe Blow.”

    And I have a right not to be enslaved to pay for your fvcking B-2 bombers, F-35 fighters, etc. The average American has a 1000x higher chance of dying from a disease than a foreign attack. So why do we spend 100x on “defence” and so little on healthcare?

    • Marko Kloos says:

      Nearly fifty cents of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. is already spent by the government, Jay. Also, Medicare and Medicaid alone eat up almost a quarter of the federal budget, at 23%. Defense is 21% of the federal budget. (Check the Federal budget for FY ’08.) If you subtract the “off-budget” Social Security portion of the Federal budget, almost half of it is spent on health care.

      Want to run that by us again?

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