Healthcare is not a right

Healthcare, as we understand the word in America, is not a right. In fact, healthcare in its current incarnation is a very novel idea. If you suffered from half of the ailments in 1908 that we cure on a daily basis in 2008 you’d be dead. And the same goes for multiple millenia preceding 1908.

I’m gonna shoot straight though: There are times I wish the U.S. had a nationalized health care system, and they are almost always personal. My wife’s health, my grandmother’s health, my friend’s health, my health. A while back I watched Michael Moore’s Sicko. It was very entertaining, but not very accurate (and all around poor journalism for a documentary, according to my wife the journalist) according to my friends in Great Britain and Germany, where if you can at all afford it you pay for private insurance.

RelieveDebtor at Architecture + Morality posted today in response to Obama’s claim that “Healthcare should be a right.”

    “. . . Healthcare should be a right,” that implies that healthcare is currently not a right, but in the future, well, it should be. So are rights fluid, and can our understanding of them change? I’m not so sure. Isn’t this is a misreading of what rights even are? A right either is, or isn’t. Rights are an existential question, not a political one. Rights are, and must be, understood to be granted by a higher authority than man, usually God, but perhaps Natural Law or the “common good” can be substituted. If rights don’t come from a higher authority, then they lose the one thing that makes them truly a right: protection from man, the ability to claim it over and above someone else’s competing claim.

    If anything, government interferes with man’s inalienable rights more often than not. (Hence the Bill of Rights, restrictions on what government does to protect human rights.) Government didn’t end slavery by extending the right to freedom; government perpetuated slavery for centuries by legalizing it. Government didn’t give women the right to vote; government withheld that right for centuries, only later recognizing its error and changing course. Rights either “are” or they “are not”. But they never “should be”.

I’m glad someone else besides myself thought this and had the druthers to post about it. It’s a little outside the normal fare on The Aesthetic Elevator, but I suppose that’s alright in this all-too-lengthy election season.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

2 Responses to Healthcare is not a right

  1. Julie says:

    Thanks for posting, and good, thoughtful quote. Glad I’m not the only one feeling that way.

  2. J. Wahlgren says:

    As one who is debating for socialized health care Thursday in class, and presenting the operiationalization I’m wondering if you or anyone else has ideas in this area?

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