Some Thoughts on Obamacare, Rights and so on


With healthcare in the headlines again, with a surprisingly semi-rational ruling by the Supreme Court, we can see how the bourgeois notion of rights (or liberty, etc) have been used to predictably obfuscate the issue. One can read some “Orthodox” reactionary takes here, here, here, here.

Really, I tend to think all the “Healthcare is a Human Right” stuff to be counterproductive. There is nothing inherent about “rights.” They are not “God given” or otherwise. Rights are pure social constructs. Where ever they occur, they are simply a societal delineation of what is (in theory) universally acceptable/unacceptable, marking where one person’s freedom begins and another’s ends. What place does property rights have in a hunter-gatherer society? Similarly, at what point does it become a human right to be guaranteed modern medical care? Really the notion of inherent rights is absurd.

Since a right is a delineating line, it is no surprise that reactionaries clothe their speech in lofty words of rights, liberty and personal freedom. The healthy person does have a greater degree of freedom without universal healthcare, at the expense of the freedom of the ill, of course. The real issue at hand is; what is the moral obligation of society? That is the crux of the argument which dissipates the fog. Given that we live in a society with the wealth and resources to provide for the sick and the suffering, we must weigh the moral obligations. Is there a greater moral obligation to ensuring the greatest possible care for the sick, or to the freedom of personal responsibility for the healthy (ie, to be able to choose not to plan for future sickness, which in itself impacts a society that deems its responsibility to not allow immediate death without treatment, regardless of one’s “choice” in this regard)? The Christian answer to this question is rather obvious.

Similarly and related, we have the same question relating to society, as embodied by the government, “taking from the rich and giving to the poor” (as though the rich are rich in a vacuum unrelated to exploitation of the very same poor). We often hear the reactionary “Christian” argument about allowing the rich the right and opportunity for moral good, by allowing them instead to be philanthropic. Again, what is society’s greater moral obligation to? The moral obligation to giving the wealthy a greater opportunity for philanthropy, or the moral obligation to ensure care and a reasonable standard of living for the poor? Again, the Christian answer, the moral answer, is obvious. Leading to the case of healthcare, wherein the choice of obtaining medical insurance is really only a real choice for relatively healthy, moderately well off people. So, again, the choice/right/ liberty of one person comes at the expense of another, that is, the sick and the poor. This leads us again to the Christian moral obligation to the poor, sick and suffering, and the general lack of special obligation to the healthy and wealthy.

We don’t live in a vacuum. Our “rights” directly impact another’s. One person’s freedom comes at the expense of another’s. One’s “right to personal responsibility” comes at the price of another’s life, and when a person shrieks in terror about their liberty and dollars being taken, the question of moral responsibility shows the type of human being they are, reveals their moral worth (or, lack thereof, in this case).



Filed under Culture, Religion

3 responses to “Some Thoughts on Obamacare, Rights and so on

  1. Robert

    What do you need insurance for if the gov provides healthcare. Insurance is another product we are told to purchase and consume. And we just gobble it all up, don’t we?

    • Ideally, the government would provide a single payer system, but in this current phase of neoliberal dominance, this sort of solution is the best we can hope for. The ruling class will not allow a newly enclosed commons. Everything must be privatized.

  2. Ariston

    If you’re a reactionary, how does this bill possibly make a difference in how you see the current order? These people confuse the hell out of me.

    You can discuss the merits of the decision—I think it’s a cheap out for Roberts, who wrote most of the decision and the dissent—but bloviating about “the end of the Republic”? What a joke.

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