I’d like to put forth a proposition: The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution says we have the right to keep and bear arms. Therefore, I demand that the government, at public expense, provide me with a militia-suitable firearm, ammunition, spares, maintenance gear, load bearing gear, and training, complete with a range where I can practice at no expense.
Or how about this: The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says we have the right to free speech. Therefore, I demand that the government, at public expense, provide me with a newspaper and a radio station, complete and entire with staff, hardware, support, payroll, benefits (no Affordable Care, please, thank you).
After all, how can I exercise my rights to be armed or to run my mouth if I don’t have a gun and a newspaper? Isn’t it hypocrisy to tell me I can have a gun, and then not give me one? Or to tell me I can speak my mind, and not give me a pulpit?
While I haven’t heard this absurd argument for guns, I have heard it for newspapers and radio stations. This is precisely what the “fairness doctrine” is about, and it is built on a fundamental misunderstanding of what a right is. No, this is not a matter of semantic hairsplitting. It is a matter of the perversion of a perfectly valid concept, and the use of that perversion to manipulate people.
There is no such thing as a right TO something. “Rights” are not a voucher; they are the freedom from restraint. The 2nd Amendment means no one can prevent me from getting a gun. The 1st Amendment means no one can prevent me from getting a newspaper. A right cannot be a positive title to something. A right can only be a guarantee of freedom from restraint in getting that thing. Here’s how that works.
Nothing Mankind needs to survive occurs in usable form in nature. Berries must be picked, animals must be hunted, crops must be grown, lumber must be cut, cloth must be woven… the list is endless. Everything – EVERYTHING – Man needs to live requires some form of human action to make it usable. There are but four ways of getting the things we need: we can produce them, ourselves, we can produce other things and trade for them, we can beg for them, or we can steal them.
That’s it. Make it yourself, buy it with something you have made yourself, beg for it, or steal it. We are producers, beggars, or thieves. There are no other options. Since no one can produce all that he needs over an extended period, dealing with others is inescapable. Beggars are doomed to live at the discretion of their benefactors, and thieves live only until they encounter a strong man armed, politicians notwithstanding.
We are given a limited time in this life, and each second that ticks past is gone, forever. If we spend a minute making or doing something, that thing is all we have to show for that minute of life. As such, the value of the thing we have made is whatever value we place on that portion of our lives. When we offer to trade that thing to another for a thing he has made, we are, in a very real, practical sense, trading our life for his. It is human action, alone, that makes the things of the world useful to us, and the value of that action must be reflected in the cost of the item. We don’t just trade stuff; we also trade the portion of our allotted span that went into producing the stuff.
We and we alone have the authority to set the value of our lives. An employer can offer us a wage, but we have the option of accepting it or not. As in any other trade, an employer is offering to give you part of his life in exchange for part of yours, and, like you, he has the authority to set the value of his own life. This is where Progressives, Liberals, and other Fascists lose all grasp on reality. They appeal to the egocentrism imbedded in all of us when they teach that you, the person to whom they are speaking, have the right to set the value of your life, but employers can’t set the value of their own.
What a lot of people (more than 50%, if the last election is an indication) fail to grasp is that the fascists are telling your neighbor the same thing! All statist politics is based on the premise of passing law that is binding on that guy over there, but never on us.
Back to the gun. To produce a modern firearm requires a huge amount of material, engineering, and manufacturing equipment. Just as with picking wild berries or preparing animal hides, human action is required to convert natural materials into steel and electricity. Just as with the berries and hides, those who provided that action may set the price on their labors. To say they are required to give you the gun is to take from them that authority and establish, as law, that when they are dealing with you, their lives are of zero value. They are your slaves. That appeals to a lot of our neighbors, though they are less enthused when it’s their turn to be our slaves.
When you claim a right to groceries, you are filing a claim to the lives of the farmers, truckers, and everyone else involved in the chain of production and supply. When you claim a right to time on a radio station, you are filing a claim to the lives of the engineers, factory workers, clerks, and entrepreneurs who put that station on the air. (The Fairness Doctrine [gag] uses the phrase, “public airways,” and says they belong to everyone. The air might, but the equipment that generates radio signals damned sure does not; it belongs to the people who created it. You can turn your radio on and wait until there’s a cold day in a hot place, but until someone turns on the transmitter, you won’t hear squat.)
When you claim a right to health care, you are filing a claim to the lives of the doctors, nurses, technicians, manufacturers, builders, administrators, filing clerks, janitors, and all the multitude of people whose actions create the highly abstract thing called “health care.” When you claim a right to an x-ray, you are negating the right of the x-ray tech to determine the value of her life.
And when you allow the government to make that claim for you, the crime is no less. In fact, it may be even greater because if you do it, that is naked, bold theft, but the government’s action is cloaked in fraudulent righteousness and academic babble that actually reverses the roles of masters and slaves.
No one has a right to health care because no one has a right to the lives of all those involved in providing it. Your right consists of the absence of restraint – you cannot be kept from trading a portion of your life for a portion of theirs. This may seem, and actually is harsh and strict, but what is the alternative?
If you grant to the government the authority (not the right, but the authority) to set the value of your doctor’s life, what in the world is to prevent that same government from setting the value of your life? When your doctor comes to your place of employment, what is to prevent the government from limiting what you charge him? We think about the government telling our employers how much they must pay us, and most people expect the government to set a wage higher than what they are making now. But what is to keep the government from setting a lower wage? You have already granted the government the authority to do such things; what is your protection? After all, by ordering you a greater wage, the government has set the value of your employer’s life. Are you comfortable with any government having that kind of power over you?
Having accepted and voted into law the principle that the government can enslave any group of people for the benefit of any other, the only thing we have left to discuss is who is enslaved to whom – and when are the roles reversed?
The simple fact is that prices for health care must be set by someone, and to access that care, the prices must be paid. You can work it out with your doctor, or you can sell your soul to the fascists who are firmly convinced they know better the value of your doctor’s life, and of yours.