Kurt Bouwhuis, Mackinac Center Intern.
Here is a letter I recently sent to the Midland Daily News:
Is Health Care a Human Right?
The revival of the idea of government run health care in the United States has once again ignited a debate over whether or not humans have a right to health care. In order to validate health care as a human right, it is necessary to understand the difference between negative rights and positive rights.
Negative rights are those which pertain to freedom from the uninvited interventions of others. Respect for negative rights require the inaction of the individuals around you, or put another way, require individuals to refrain from pushing other persons around. Examples of negative rights include property rights and the right to your own life.
Positive rights, on the other hand, require actions from other persons. Respect
for positive rights require an authority to force individuals (usually through taxes) to give up a portion of their property or lives in order to serve other persons. If positive rights are valid, no individual would be justified in refusing to service
the positive rights of others, nor would they be justified in opting out of their own positive rights. An example of a positive right is health care.
Unfortunately, if negative rights are valid, positive rights cannot be. If you truly have the right to your own life and your own property, there is no authority that can justly require you to sacrifice your own property or alter your own life goals in order to fulfill the rights of others.
The declaration of health care as a human right will result in further violations of every individual tax payer’s property rights by requiring the sacrifice of larger portions of income (property).
If nothing else, remember that an increase in positive rights will result in a loss of negative rights.