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Friday, March 12, 2010

Rights, Obligations and A Return to Feudalism?

People want affordable health care, and some declare that it is a "right.".


Rights carry obligations, and some rights can be asserted but only with a corresponding obligation. This is the perfect example.


To claim a right to affordable health care, one must ask the questions: Who pays? And who provides the service?


Affordable health care is thus a "right" which depends entirely on someone -- meaning, someone else, to be honest -- paying for the rightsholder's care, and also on someone else willing to provide the care.


If one day every doctor and nurse were to retire, without replacements, there would be no health care at any price. Therefore, this "right" is dependent entirely on, and requires that others assume responsibilities. How can this be a right?


Affordable health care is desirable and something worthy to aspire to have. A civilized society such as ours should try to provide health care for all who need it (and let's not play games with the meaning of "need"). But health care cannot be a right because it compels and imposes obligations on others.


The advocates of health care as a right do not realize that their argument by necessity imposes obligations on others. (If they do realize this point, they are effectively arguing for a return to feudalism, in which they get to make others their serfs.) In our society, no one should have a "right" to impose obligations and burdens upon others. The Founding Fathers would not recognize such a concept.

 Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who has been practicing law since graduating from Yale Law School in 1994. Mr. Dixon cautions that this article is not legal advice. Mr. Dixon has handled election law and other matters for over two dozen political clients, and also handles corporate investigations, due diligence and sensitive matters including crisis management.  Mr. Dixon is available for consultation or comment at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com and 917-696-2442.

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