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    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    Political Season: There's a great discussion going on over at Roger Simon's blog on the healthcare crisis. I have to agree with Simon, ever since I can remember the system has been "in crisis," and yet it somehow never comes to a head. This comment is also an apt observation on healthcare as a "right":

    If health care is a fundamental right, it is different than other fundamental rights such as free speech, freedom of religion, protection against illegal search and seizure, and the right to bear arms. The other rights do not require that someone else pay for your right out of their pocket.
    (via Grunt Doc.)

    And the debate on tort reform continues over at PointofLaw. Today, Ted Frank explains why we should avoid the use of the word "frivolous."

    MORE: Even the New England Journal of Medicine is getting into the act, with a first in a series of articles on healthcare issues in the election. This week's is a study of opinion surveys on how voters rate the issues. Healthcare is number four, after the economy, the Iraq war, and the war on terrorism. And what about the problem of the "45 million uninsured"? Even the 45 million uninsured don't see themselves as a priority:

    The survey data suggest that voters are not focused heavily on the problem of the nation's 45.0 million people who do not have health insurance. Pre-election polls have shown that although that problem is an important health care issue, it is ranked below the costs of health care and health care insurance, Medicare, and prescription drugs. Surprisingly, even among uninsured voters, the subgroup most affected, this issue is seen as only slightly more important than other health care issues, and it is not significantly more important for these voters than for voters who have health care insurance. (emphasis mine)

    I suspect the uninsured vs. insured numbers are so similar because most of uninsured are transiently uninsured. They're between jobs and expect to get insurance shortly. Or, they're people who have chosen to go without insurance and don't really see it as a problem. The authors of the article see that as a problem, wondering how a comprehensive solution can be had if even the uninsured don't care about their situation. Maybe policy makers should take that as a clue that the problem of the uninsured isn't, in reality, as big a problem as they think. It's more a reaction to a number than it is to a situation.

    UPDATE: One reader's reaction:

    Most people who routinely exercise their "bill-of-rights" rights (like
    the ones quoted above), require organizations to exist that constantly
    fight to keep those rights operative. Paid for by others.

    Most people who exercise their freedom of religion do it by going to a
    house of worship that was mostly paid for by someone else. (That's a lot
    like saying that I exercise my health rights by going to a hospital that
    (including its services) was paid for by someone else. Religious
    building fund costs probably rise almost as fast as health costs,
    definitely ahead of inflation.

    People who exercise their right to bear arms place a terrific cost on
    the rest of American society. We pay for some of the carnage those guns
    produce, and we pay for the extra police who try to keep the playing
    field equal, AND we pay for all the heavy artillery those police need to
    protect themselves about those rightful arms that fall in the wrong

    First of all, freedom of religion does not come via the financial generosity of others. Churches are bought and paid for by their congregations, not by tax dollars. Ditto their maintenance. No religious group is guaranteed the right to a building in which to worship. The only thing they're guaranteed is the right to gather and worship. Period.

    The right to bear arms does not include the right to have other people purchase your guns for you. You can argue that an armed citizenry is costlier to society than an unarmed citizenry, but it's an indirect cost. Every right has an indirect cost. Freedom of speech, for one, often comes at a steep price. But no one expects the government to provide everyone with a free soap box, or newspaper, or blog. When people talk about healthcare as a right, however, they are talking about having others pay directly for that right. There's a difference. A huge difference.


    posted by Sydney on 9/23/2004 10:08:00 PM 0 comments


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