We’ve all heard some politicians say something akin to ” Health care is a basic human right. We are for basic human rights, and that’s Medicare-for-all. Everyone gets covered and the government should provide it free of charge.”
Should all “basic human rights” be provided for free by the government? A lot of these (read below) sure sound like they’re basic human rights and good things for everyone to have access to.
Access to housing is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights and that’s housing for all. Everyone has a place to sleep (single people live in bunk houses, married people get a 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1000 square foot apartment).
Clothing is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights and that’s clothing-for-all. Everyone gets covered (Gray cotton pants, shirts and socks and flip flops).
Transportation is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights and that’s transportation for all. Everyone gets a ride (on a bus at a bus stop 5 miles from where you live and it stops twice a day).
Food and nutrition is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights and that’s food for all. Everyone gets fed (what we think is best for them -daily menu: ham biscuit for breakfast, black beans for lunch, fried chicken and rice for dinner, orange jello for dessert).
Working and living in good buildings is a basic human right. Architect services should be covered. (why not have all buildings look the same, that would be cheaper.)
Monetary income is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights and that’s a guaranteed income for all. Everyone gets paid ($12,000/year, with everything necessary paid by the government, this will be plenty, they’ll tell us.) Buying a Winnebago to travel the country in retirement or just traveling for fun will be too expensive plus the government thinks traveling needs to be reduced to protect the crumbling infrastructure.
All sound good, but when everything is provided, there’s no incentive to improve, to work hard, to discover new things. If clothing were provided by the government, we’d all be wearing the same thing, just like in Communist China and Russia for years in the 1950’s – 1970’s until they opened up to some capitalism. When you get something for free, it has little value to you. When you work hard for something, it is valuable to you.
Same with healthcare, if the government pays for everything, the quality of the care and the quick access to it declines. Budgets will play a big role in our care. For example, only 110,000 hip placements can be paid for in a year. Unfortunately, in July your hip is causing you excruciating pain, but you’re number 110,001 and it’s August, so you have to wait 5 months. Without the opportunity to have their efforts rewarded; inventors, doctors and pharma companies lose a powerful incentive to discover new and better drugs and procedures. Of course we would like to think they’ll still do this for the good of humanity and the prestige they get, but money and wealth is a very powerful incentive. Is this a trade-off Americans want to make?
3 thoughts on “Basic Human Rights”
You seem to be working on the assumption that providing the basic survival needs saps initiative and breeds complacency. I believe that is true as long as there is no opportunity for improvement. I believe that a true measure of the greatness of a society is how it treats its underprivileged members. I agree that there are always going to be some people who are born into lower socioeconomic classes that will take advantage of a system that provides easy access to resources. But that is no reason not to ensure that all members of society have their basic needs met. By that I mean basic needs such as enough food to be relatively healthy, basic shelter, basic healthcare, public transportation that can get them to and from work, and a path that provides the opportunity to earn more (merit based education, etc.).
If someone is content to live in basic public housing, eating just enough to survive, and not improve themselves, I personally feel morally required to provide that, but no more. If you want more I believe you have to work for it. That requires a REAL opportunity to work your way out. We like to think of America as a place where everyone has the opportunity to improve their situation. The data shows that is not happening. The socioeconomic class into which you are born largely defines the one in which you will die. My experience is that this is caused more by a lack of parental leadership, educational opportunity and money, than by laziness. In America we really don’t give most poor children a real opportunity to improve themselves. No wonder they give up by the time they are young adults.
Interesting you use the example that “in July your hip is causing you excruciating pain, but you’re number 110,001 and it’s August, so you have to wait 5 months.” This sounds an awful lot like wealthy whining. If, like many Americans, you cannon afford healthcare, and in July your hip is causing you excruciating pain, you have to live with it for the rest of your life. If you are affluent and live in a single healthcare provider country, you can take a medical vacation to one of the many countries that will be happy to treat your hip with US trained surgeons at a similar cost anytime. Providing the basic needs for poor members of society does not mean you have to give up the opportunity for people to improve themselves. Doing both at the same time is possible, and I believe, optimal.
I agree with your take, Stuart. An interesting point to be made in addition to your comments is that meeting the basic needs of people means putting them in a position to be more productive than if they were held down by disease and impairment or homelessness and hunger.
We have been steadily reducing our social commitment through endless tax cuts intended as a way to reduce the size of our government. But as we’ve cut back on social spending, we’ve increased military spending which in the last budget round ended up being more than half the amount of total spending.
Setting aside what this means to our nation and the hypocrisy of the stated reasons for the tax cuts, this has led to an increasing crisis of people not being able to fend for themselves as witnessed by the multitudes of vagrants begging for crumbs; the more mentally unfit wandering around getting into trouble and inevitably ending up in jail and prison; we’ve also seen the huge increase in homelessness everywhere.
It should be pretty clear to any rational person that taking care of our basic human needs is crucial for a functioning nation. It is also clear that “establishment” politicians like it this way. We now understand that the instruments for protecting our Republic are mere nuisances to whatever party is in power, and apparently with that power, can be ignored.
Without a general public outcry, this will never change. The question of whether access to affordable “basic” healthcare is a right or not is most definitely a no brainer. If you care about each other and the success of this nation, the answer is definitely YES!
Nobody – and I mean nobody – in our society should have to suffer and die because of lack of healthcare. Yet this happens every day and every minute in our country. This is as basic and critical to our society as education and military protection, which are provided through our taxes. The original post is just a smoke screen that distorts facts and creates false fears. I have had more than I can take of others denying this right to others while they collect their Medicare, government disability, life-long healthcare through employers, etc. Put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and try to understand what it’s like to work 50 hours a week in multiple jobs that don’t provide healthcare. You’ve “aged out” of your parent’s plan, and are doing everything possible to stay afloat with daily living expenses that are almost out of control. All the while suffering through a horrible ear-ache until it gets so bad you’re forced to sit for 5 hours in an ER, humiliated that you’re there in the first place. Or you have severe spine pain that you don’t get care for, because your eight months away from Medicare and you’ve lost your past healthcare. You couldn’t afford new insurance through COBRA and you need your savings for daily living expenses. By the time you finally go in and self-pay for the doctor’s visits, you’re diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Your delay in treatment takes a horrible tole and you pass away only months from Medicare starting. This shouldn’t happen to anybody, but it does, and I’ve seen it first-hand, enough that I’ve had it with all the excuses. I don’t begrudge those who are now in place that they can rest comfortably knowing their healthcare is taken care of, but for God’s sake they should at least realize how blessed they are and open stop this “me me me” mentality. Healthcare is a human right and NOT a privilege!