Brief rant on rights

In an odd bit of reverse irony, I’m cross-posting something here that I initially put up as a note on my Facebook today.  But before I get to that:

No, my project isn’t done yet.

No, nothing new else to post here; when my project is done, I’ll have breath to write again…the worst part being that I know where it’s going, but if I’ve got an hour to myself when it’s quiet and I would normally write, I’m sleeping.

No, it does not affect progression nor stability, WNF.  (Those of you who’ve shipped a video game can laugh now.)

And so here it is (unedited and a bit awkward, as those things that are written in 5 minutes on a lunch break are wont to be); I’ll probably expand on these thoughts in the future…I have zero desire to be political on here, but this is more about philosophy than it is politics, and touches the core of some things that are most important to me…

Wasn’t going to respond to the health care meme going around today, until I realized why it’s been bugging me. Too much of the language being tossed around is calling health care a “right” (or implying it), as though it’s something that everyone is owed, just for being alive.

When I say that someone “has a right” to something, it’s something within their control, and the “right” to it means that no one can prevent the individual from exercising that something: the government cannot pass laws preventing it (like free speech or religion), and the government is obligated to protect private individuals when they’re threatened by other private entities (like assault or theft threatening the right to feel safe and secure).

Here’s the thing: health care isn’t something that an individual can do for themselves. Health care requires many, many skilled people to train and gain experience at certain skills, and then apply those skills.

And there’s too much of the objectivist in me to say “I have a right to other people’s hard work, regardless of whether or not they want to give it to me.”

That’s not to say I’m opposed to a publicly-financed health solution; I think it’s a good idea. There are other things that government is supposed to do beyond protecting your rights as a citizen, and providing services at a reduced cost and/or supplementing the cost of those services–particularly when they are as important as health care–is something I would be glad to see my tax dollars applied to.

And it’s not like most doctors need protecting; I don’t have any facts to back this up (always a fun way to start off a point), but medicine is a profession where the bottom-end of compensation is still well above the bottom-end of compensation in most other fields, and the high-end is virtually limitless. This isn’t about worrying about protecting the poor, helpless doctors.

Nor is it about being intensely anti-government-solution...the public-option plan doesn’t call for doctors to be hired by and trained by the government (which I think would terrify anyone who’s been to the post office or DMV lately)…that’s the true “socialist healthcare solution”.

My reluctance to jump with both feet onto any side of this debate–with today’s meme as just one example–comes from a desire to distinguish between supporting the use of my tax dollars to provide a way to help people gain access to a service that they couldn’t on their own, to the betterment of society as a whole (less sick people makes things better), and the idea that anyone, anywhere can have a “right” to a single moment of my time or effort, or anyone else’s time or effort.

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