Saturday, October 11, 2008


Bill Whittle writes about Obama's supposition that healthcare is a right. Whittle goes down the list of even more necessary things, food, shelter -- and ever less necessary -- widescreen TVs. Where are we to draw the line? He settles on the Constitution, with its protections of rights expressed as a negative: "Constitutional rights protect us from things: intimidation, illegal search and seizure, self-incrimination, and so on." It amounts to freedom from coercive interference. "But these new so-called 'rights' are about the government — who the Founders saw as the enemy — giving us things: food, health care, education--"

Correct, of course. Healthcare is a good middle ground test case. We are after all an enlightened society, and don't cast the orphan out into the street. Not often. Well, there's all these foreclosures going on, but that's not what we mean. The orphan's parents should take care of him. Oh. Well, benevolent strangers, then. Hm. Well, okay, the government, as a last resort. Build more orphanages. Huh. Doesn't sound so enlightened after all. And us, so enlightened, did I say? It's a pickle.

Let's look at education. It's a right, we're told. Certainly a major government expense, which translates into tax burden, which means we have to pay for other people's kids. Again. Again with the kids, orphans and illiterate rapscallions and tousle-haired moppets. Point is, education is counted as a right because it's somehow good for a society to have a literate population. Something wrong with the theory, alas -- what with all the ignorance and laziness and voting for unqualified self-promoters. Ah. I see it. It's supposed to be those parents, the ones who aren't dead, who teach the kids. But that's just a theory too.

I seem to be talking in circles. Let's reorient ourselves. Publicly funded healthcare, education, housing, food, television. Oh oh. Sound like prison. Let's back out of that blind alley and try again.

Yes, back to the idea of rights as obligations. Healthcare isn't a right, it's an an obligation. It's a duty. Sensible diet. Sensible exercise. Moderate lifestyle. Temperance. Occasional feasts, occasional fasts, and always an eye to the earning of our daily bread. And with our children. We dasn't break the law by promoting truancy. Hopefully we can homeschool? -- if the state allows it? And if not, we can supervise? It's all so theoretical though. We know that the government is there to, uh, bail us out. Like we're stagnant water in the bilge of a sinking ship. Bail us out. But that's not the most flattering image. Maybe it's something else that's being bailed out? Some other useless fetid stinking thing? And not us? Not our ignorant children, our unlettered selves, all fat and disease-ridden and on the verge of homelessness?

Well. We were speaking about rights. Clearly the day of the rugged individualist is past. RIP. How did it come to pass? I didn't even know he was sick. The news of his demise was under-exaggerated.

But here it is. They've changed the meaning of the word. What used to be a duty is now a right. How very, very odd.

What isn't a right is access to other people's money. Oh. Wait. Yes it is. And it's a duty too.


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