This entry is – I hope – a taste of things to come. One thing I have been curious about for some time is the debate over the right to health care. I grew up thinking of rights as being that which did not infringe on the rights of another. I had a right to free speech because it cost others nothing for me to exercise my right except that which was not truly theirs. Of course, my right to free speech did not give me the right to force others to listen, or infringe upon the rights of others to remove me from their property should I become a nuisance. I always understood the word “rights” to refer to those things that could not – as part of their innate nature – interfere with other “rights”.
Later, as I grew up, I was exposed to the distinction between government-granted rights (such as a right to a trial by jury, which requires something of others), and God-given rights (such as a right to conscience, meaning pacifists don’t have to serve in war – for example). I was later surprised to learn, however, that some people claimed to have a right to health care (long before the government stepped in to guarantee such a thing). To force doctors to work for free, or force the taxpayers to pay the doctors, is to infringe on others’ rights. How can there be a right to health care? It is akin to having a right to own slaves, as I have heard some say.
Clearly, there is another meaning to the word “rights” that I am not familiar with. This is what I hope to turn up in my future interviews with people. I want to understand how they think. What is it that I’m missing? How do they justify a state-paid system? Do they do so the same way as I justify the state-paid justice system? I don’t know.
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