On 3/15/2010 6:32 AM, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
On 16 March 2010 00:00, Stephen P. King<stephe...@charter.net>  wrote:

             This article is most troubling to be as it seems that its
argument has become accepted by many people without consideration of the
logical consequence.


Is Universal Health Care a Human Right?

By Tom Head,

Question: Is Universal Health Care a Human Right?

Answer: According to the most widely accepted international human rights
treaties, yes.

Article 25 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) reads
(emphasis mine):

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and
well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing
and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in
the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other
lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Likewise, Article 12 of the U.N. International Covenant on Economic, Social,
and Cultural Rights (1966) reads:

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and
mental health.

2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to
achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary

(a) The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant
mortality and for the healthy development of the child;

(b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;

(c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational
and other diseases;

(d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and
medical attention in the event of sickness.

Because the United States is a signatory to both treaties, and U.S.
policymakers played a role in drafting both treaties, it would stand to
reason that health care would be accepted as part of the American
understanding of human rights. And it is, at least by most--according to a
2007 CBS News/New York Times poll, 64% of Americans believe that the
government has a responsibility to ensure universal health care.

This has historically been the position of left-leaning parties, such as the
Democratic Party and the Green Party. But right-leaning parties, such as the
Republican Party and the Libertarian Party, hold a different view. "Health
care is a privilege," Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) explained in a March 2009
interview. "[I]t's not necessarily a right." Not that fiscal conservatives
are necessarily monsters--many of them volunteer to help provide essential
medical services, in the United States and abroad--but as a general rule,
fiscal conservatives don't believe that tax dollars should be used to fund
universal health care. They believe this responsibility should fall on the
private sector, and if the private sector isn't able to comprehensively meet
needs, calling on the government to pick up the slack simply isn't an
option. They see health care as something that good people can grant to
those who don't have it, but they don't see it as something to which every
human being is entitled.

But international human rights law is unambiguous on the matter: Universal
health care is a right, and the government must step in and provide it if
the private sector fails to do so. If there are such things as human rights,
under the international framework, then health care is definitely among

End quote

             That a “need” becomes a right by convention or treaty or any
means that enforce such is to effect the legitimation of coercion of the
rights of those that can provide those “needs”. “From each according to
their ability to each according to his need” scream out at us here and
without a coherent response we are witnessing the virtual imprisonment of
any and all that might have the skills required to provide such.

             What I see here is by accepting the premise of this and similar
arguments requires that a government has the “right” to demand services from
individuals with ability *for whatever reason* which then is to accept that
the State has the right to control the behavior of any individual and that
any right of self-determination is abrogated.

             Any comment is welcome.
The problem is that "right" has no objective basis. It's like "good"
or "beauty": a concept made up by humans. You obviously think that
public health care is morally wrong while others (probably most people
in the world) think that the lack of public health care is morally
wrong. You could have a rational discussion about, say, the efficiency
of public versus private health care, but with the core moral issue
you will reach an impasse, because your premises differ.

I agree with Stathis. Whether you call it a right or an entitlement is semantics. Rights and entitlements are both invented by society. Some societies create a right to bear arms, some create a right to health care. The important question is, "What works best." The U.S. health care system doesn't provide better care than that of other OECD nations and it costs twice as much. So it's pretty clearly not working best. Where's the money wasted? About a third is taken by the insurance companies in reviewing, denying claims and negotiating coverage. Another third is just in technological and bureaucratic inefficiency related to dealing with private insurance (a U.S. hospital has three times the administative staff of a European or Japanese hospital). And the final third is just over-treatment.


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