Author Topic: Health Care and Guns – What Do They Have in Common?  (Read 338 times)

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Offline Jim Nunziato

Health Care and Guns – What Do They Have in Common?
« on: December 09, 2019, 09:46:19 PM »
Quote from: Alan Preston

July 17, 2016
Health Care and Guns – What Do They Have in Common?
By Alan Preston

As the presidential debates have progressed, we’ve frequently heard a theme about health care -- how health care is a right. As in, by virtue of being born, you have a right to health care.

This is an emotionally appealing argument that is often difficult to refute. We hear the word “rights.” But what does the word actually mean?

In the Declaration of Independence, the document starts with the following: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our country’s Founders believed that our rights come from a power other than the government. That all people are endowed by certain “unalienable” rights by our creator and not the federal government. Unalienable suggests rights that cannot be taken away from citizens, and since the government did not give them, the government, therefore, cannot take them away. At least that’s the theory. Many tyrannical governments in other countries take away these unalienable rights all the time.

Our Constitution was ratified on Sept. 17, 1787, 11-plus years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. James Madison wanted to make sure that our unalienable rights were also in the Constitution in order to protect the citizens from the very government they created. It was not until Dec. 15, 1791, that the original Bill of Rights was adopted and made a part of the Constitution.

Anyone who has read the Constitution knows that the words “health care” cannot be found anywhere in that document. It is not in the Bill of Rights. Some people assert that “health care” is indeed one of those unalienable rights found in the Declaration of Independence. Fair enough! So, let’s make that assumption.

What do we mean by health care? Some people think it is free health insurance. Some think it means being entitled to receive any and all care demanded regardless of ability to pay. Other people think it is an entitlement to be protected from any and all harmful substances that we breathe or eat or come across.

But what does it really mean to have a right to health care? There are many varying definitions. There is no universal definition as to what a right to health care actually means.

Let’s look at the rights we do have in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights has quite a list. The Second Amendment, for instance, provides the right of the people to keep and bear arms, and that right shall not be infringed.

Now whether or not you support gun ownership is not the issue here. The issue is that this is one of many rights in our Constitution and that the Bill of Rights exists to protect the “people” from the government trying to take away such rights.

Thomas Jefferson said it best when he said, “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

Nowhere in the Constitution does it suggest that the federal government has to pay for you to enjoy such a right. Imagine that I wanted to purchase a beautiful revolver that cost $1,200. I reach into my pocket and I am shy by $1,100. Should I go to Congress and demand that it pay for the revolver? I could say it is my right and the fact I cannot afford it suggests I am being denied my right to bear arms as protected in the Second Amendment.

I suspect both Democrats and Republicans would tell me that it is not the obligation of the federal government to pay for one to enjoy such a right. And I agree with them.

So, how about health care? Even assuming health care was a protected right under the Constitution, this does not suggest that the government has an obligation to pay for you to enjoy that right. As with gun ownership, affordability is a different concept from the right itself.

Many people too often confuse the word “right” with “entitlement” payments to enjoy such a right.

Even if health care were a right and all agreed upon a definition, that right does not suggest that the government has to pay for it  no more than the right to bear arms suggests that the government has to pay for gun ownership.

The rights have not gone away just because you have chosen not to budget for them. There is a huge difference between the concept of a right and the funding for someone to enjoy that right. It’s clear that just because the government, or anyone else, fails to pay for you to enjoy your rights, your rights are not denied.

Dr. Alan M. Preston ( has been a professor for five years in San Antonio specializing in epidemiology, biostatistics and health care policy. Most of his career has been spent as a CEO for managed care companies and physician organizations. He has assisted states in shaping health care policy and was given the title of honorary Insurance Commissioner for Louisiana.

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."  Thomas Jefferson

If Hillary was the answer, then it must have been a really stupid question!