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Wednesday, March 7th 2007

At Least He's Got The Basic Question Down

Chatterbox on Slate is putting up a series on why the U.S. should have socialized medicine. Part 1 is here.

While I’m not sure the author, Mr. Noah, understands the debate enough to distinguish “socialized medicine” versus “single payer,” and I certainly don’t agree with his argument, he deserves credit for framing the debate at its most basic level.

The Chatterbox piece isn’t merely an argument discussing the horror of the number of U.S. uninsured, it is an attempt to justify government’s role in healthcare. Bravo.

The argument put forth in the Slate piece literally boils down to this: The role of government is to protect lives.

He puts the argument forth by asking what it would be like if we privatized national defense. I understand the point is to be a little facetious and hyperbolic but the problem is…well…it achieves those things.

At the most primitive level collective defense is the key undisputed reason driving the “social contract” between citizen and countries. To put it more bluntly: defense is the closes thing to a unanimous reason for which nations exist at all.

It is so entrenched into the philosophical justifications for government that it is analogous to nothing else the government does. Trying to play out health care as analogous or at the same level just doesn’t work.

In anycase, my position on government’s primary role – protecting rights – is clear. I think.

There is no such thing as positive rights. There are no things owed to you, no matter if ever changing social standards start to view such things as “necessities” (such as healthcare). As Leonard Peikoff said,

The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want — not to be given it without effort by somebody else.

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