Saturday, December 26, 2009

Talking With Liberals About Health Care

Most of my discussions with self described liberals on the health care debate founders on the subject of "health care as a right." I admit that this infuriates me, but I wonder why it is such a strongly held belief. I actually have not found a cogent answer from the left on this subject. But trying to understand so that I can persuade leads me to conclude that health care is viewed as a right, because it is something that people could needlessly die without, but are incapable of providing for themselves. Food and water would then be rights as well, under this logic, but normally in America, people can get enough to eat. But this still presents an opportunity to argue against the statist grab for control of the entire industry. Just as food is necessary for survival, we only provide food stamps to those in need. So too should our approach to health care be minimalist, providing emergency services to all, our present policy in fact, and some sort of health insurance assistance to those truly too poor to buy their own health care. I haven't tried out this line of reasoning with anyone yet. What do you think?


  1. State-of-the-art health care is a luxury good in the same way that a Porsche is. However, all luxury goods are available to the person who has an open line of credit. You can lease that Porsche and drive it to the Cartier store where you whip out your MasterCard to buy your wife some jewelry.

    I believe that your argument won't work on them until the credit line is exhausted. My proof of this is California. The budgets and union contracts created in the early 2000s were funded then, but doomed in the future. Nothing was done until now when we're all in a panic because we find ourselves $20B short.

    Similarly, you're arguing from a financial and freedom point of view. They're arguing from an emotive one. Until their emotion of fear from a debt crisis overwhelms their emotions of compassion, you'll lose the argument every time.

  2. KT,
    Good insights. I agree about the emotive argument. I was hoping to craft an argument that takes the energy out of the emotional part, "Some people are dying because they lack health care," by showing that there are solutions for the problem short of full take over of the health care system.

  3. Emotion is a huge part of it.

    Riffing off of KT's "luxury good" point, a service that is available to some people but not to others is suddenly a "right".

    Much like denying women and blacks the right to vote, the denial of certain forms of healthcare becomes morally unjust.

    Food and water are not (yet) rights because they are relatively inexpensive and there is not the perceived disparity in the means by which the rich and poor alike can fill their bellies.

    I feel a post coming on.