The fight against the ideology of President Obama and his flagship legislation, the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, is waged by people with the same principles and morality as those who waged the fight against slavery in the United States decades ago. This is evident when one considers the arguments made to justify Obamacare and those to justify slavery.
Upon examination, the two arguments are morally and ethically the same:
The supposed moral premise of the Affordable Care Act and slavery are both predicated upon a supposed “right” to the life and property of others.
The book American Slavery explains that the concept of rights was redefined after the American Revolution; whereby the concept matured. The idea of ‘rights’ started with the irrational consideration that rights only extended from specific liberties enjoyed by certain groups of people. Later, the concept of rights evolved into a more matured concept–one that necessitates an understanding of the idea in which, by definition, a right cannot be a right unless it extends to all people. The author explains, “Although the Revolution fostered an abstracted sense of Rights – specific ‘liberties,’ enjoyed by specific groups, became a generalized ‘liberty’ belonging to all – many Southerners continued to use the term in the older sense.”
This is to say, prior to the American Revolution, to outlaw slavery would be to remove the slave owners’ right to own slaves and therefore a violation of their liberty. The American experiment recognized the logical error in this reasoning over time and evolved the understanding of rights to the reality that the only way a right can truly exist, it must be applicable to all people and applied to everyone in the same way.
Yet this line of reasoning over time devolved away from the logical recognition of rights, culminating in the positioning of the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare. Both the media and a huge majority of the political leadership today contend that health care is a human right. Endlessly we hear Barack Obama make this irrational claim. Upon passage of Obamacare and its support on the Supreme Court, the Boston Globe concluded that with the ruling in King v. Burwell, the “Supreme Court makes it official: Health care is a right.”
Yet, what does it really mean to say that health care is a fundamental human right?
When one has a ‘right’ to something, they possess it by virtue of their very existence. There is no need to earn a right and others are obliged to honor it. For example, all people have an obvious and natural right to choose their own destiny. Therefore, there is no prerequisite to this right as it relates to first having to earn it, and as it is with all rights, others are required to honor it. In the example of a person’s right to choose their own destiny, no person is entitled to force a destiny upon someone against their will, unless, of course, such person is convicted of a crime worthy of such punishment.
This is the nature of all rights.
Health care, though, is not an abstract construct that occurs naturally and in such a way it equally affects all people. Health care is created, administered, and developed by people; people who possess the same right to their lives and livelihoods as everyone else.
To say that someone has a ‘right’ to health care is to say there is no need for people to earn it and everyone is obliged to respect it, just as it is understood with the right to choose one’s own destiny. Yet what must be done to uphold this supposed right? If one is not obligated to earn health care services, those who provide, produce, and administer its products and services are obligated to provide the fruits of their lives, talents, education, and work to anyone and everyone.
The only way this is accomplished is by taking by force the obvious and natural right of those who choose a career in the health care industry to live, work, and benefit fully from their efforts.
Morally, this is no different than slavery.
Advocates who stake a claim to the right of health care workers’ lives and work wish to subjugate the minority of people who choose health care as a career to the whims of everyone else. This is no different than those who advocated for slavery all throughout history.
Consider the morally corrupting precedent this sets in American society.
The central case made in favor of the slave industry in early United States history was the idea that slavery is an economic necessity. In an article published by the Illinois Wesleyan University Constructing the Past series titled The Pro-Slavery Argument in the Development of the American Methodist Church, Kyle Painter quotes George Whitefield, a prominent slavery advocate during America’s Colonial Period, as stating “it is impossible for the inhabitants [of Georgia] to subsist themselves without the use of slaves.”
This line of reasoning during America’s slavery period was prevalent throughout the country. William Harper in his 1837 “Memoir on Slavery” stated, “Without it [slavery], it is doubtful whether a white man would now be existing on this continent –certain that, if there were, they would be in a states of the utmost destitution, weakness, and misery.”
It is also stated in a thesis written at the University of Nebraska titled Pro and Antislavery Arguments and Conflicts (1840-1851) that,”Slave labor . . . was the crux of the American economy, and without it, the economy was likely doomed to failure.” According to this thesis, economic debates over slavery were prevalent during the time prior to the Civil War.
Today this argument, as it relates to those who choose a career in the health care industry, has not changed. It is repeated again and again that health care is not affordable and the immense cost of health insurance and medical care will destroy the U.S. economy. Obama, the foremost leader championing this idea today, repeats this same alarmist rhetoric regarding the “crushing cost” of health care.
The news media feeds the narrative as well. In March of 2012 US News and World Report states that Obamacare “breathes new life into our economic future” and that our “current healthcare system threatens our prosperity.” A quick search online reveals a myriad of reports reflecting this same hysteria.
Yet today we see that Obamacare does not control costs nor does it make health care more affordable:
- Forbes reports that “For Many, Obamacare Is Becoming The Unaffordable Care Act.”
- The Washington Times reports that Obamacare premiums soar to as much as 78% to help cover what it considers essential health benefits.
- NBC News reported that the “Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance” despite numerous remarks by Barack Obama to the contrary.
. . . and on and on . . .
Furthermore, it is also reasoned by Obamacare supporters that a person’s right to choose to not purchase health insurance must be sacrificed as well for a supposed greater good of more affordable health care. Although it is obvious this is not the case, the Obamacare assault on individual rights remains a severe threat to present and future generations. The precedent is set in American society whereby the government has the right to force people to buy the products and services of the immense corporations that evidently own all branches of American government, enslaving citizens to the whims of politicians and their cronies on Wall Street.
It is the final installment of corporatism in America.
As with the justification of slavery, Obamacare is predicated on the same economic half truths and misconceptions used throughout history to destroy people’s rights and livelihoods.
Argument 3: Everyone else is doing it . . .
Senior Fellow of Political Economy and Editor at Large at the Independent Institute, Robert Higgs cites in his article titled Ten Reasons Not to Abolish Slavery that one of the central excuses at the time to justify slavery was to invoke the childish reasoning that slavery must be acceptable because it is legal and happening in all other countries. Higgs states, “Every society on Earth has slavery. The unspoken corollary is that every society must have slavery. The pervasiveness of an institution seems to many people to constitute compelling proof of its necessity.”
Similarly, Doug Pibel and Sarah van Gelder of Yes Magazine states that the United States is the only industrialized nation without nationalized health care. In their article Health Care: It’s What Ails Us, they conclude that because all other industrialized nations exploit health care workers to appease their needs, the United States should follow.
Sometimes, many times, the majority is wrong. It is definitive proof of intellectual immaturity to imply that people should simply do as others do, as opposed to thinking for themselves.
In an article written by Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez titled A Healthy Bottom Line: Profits or People? the authors ask, “are we willing to uphold these values [freedom of free enterprise] at the cost of other important values, including a concern for justice, the dignity of persons and a community-centered ethics that places the needs of people before profits?”
In other words, in the eyes of Andre and Velasquez, the choice is only ‘people’ or ‘profits’ – one’s rights must suffer for the benefit of the other, and neither group’s rights can be respected at the same time. Andre and Velasquez conclude that people either possess the ‘liberty’ to violate the right of health care workers to control the fruits of their labor, or the only other option is a society of insufficiently provided health care products and services.
Similarly, Robert Higgs also cites that prior to the American Civil War, the belief that if one extends freedom to slaves, their lives would be filled with “destitution and suffering.”
Higgs continues by claiming, “[w]ithout slavery the former slaves would run amuck, stealing, raping, killing, and generally causing mayhem.” Furthermore, he sites that others stated “[t]rying to get rid of slavery is foolishly Utopian and impractical.”
The White House press secretary Josh Earnest made a similar argument in October of 2015 by stating, “For those who say they want to work with the administration in limiting gun violence, we would welcome the support for the Affordable Care Act and expanding Medicaid.”
In other words, Andre and Velasquez, Higgs, and Earnest are all stating people cannot survive or be safe on their own, so it is necessary to take the effort and lives of health care providers to compensate for those who are either too ignorant, unstable, or unproductive to earn health insurance or care on their own.
America destroyed the ‘reasoning’ of slavery; America can do it again with the Affordable Care Act . . .
There is a reason why the phrase “land of the free, home of the brave” is a precept that underscores the American experiment. In order to be free, one must be brave. One must be willing to work for their earnings. One must respect the equal rights of others. One must stand on principle.
Those willing to stand up for equality under the law are the newest breed of Americans to fight for freedom and liberty for all people; and yes, even those who choose health care as a profession. These are adults willing to fight for everyone’s right to pick their own destiny, no matter how foolish or unwise, and the right of all people to enjoy the fruits of their labor equally. They are Americans of the same moral fiber as those who ended the robbing of dignity and self worth of a minority, a practice spawned from other people’s childish and un-American desire to take the unearned.