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OR Dems declare health care “fundamental right”

Yesterday, the Oregon House held an atypical debate on natural rights, specifically a natural right to health care. The House Democrats successfully referred a bill to the November ballot that would make health care a constitutional right for every Oregon citizen.  From the Oregonian article:

House Joint Resolution 100 would amend the Oregon Constitution to make health care “a fundamental right” and order the Legislature to adopt a plan for giving every legal resident “access to effective and affordable health care on a regular basis.”

Voting came down along party lines, with the motion passing 31-29. Republicans opposed the bill and kept asking silly questions like “How can we possibly afford this?” and “Won’t this give the shaft to other social services?” C’mon, guys! You have to dream big. Don’t worry about the details; just go for it. I’m sure everything will work out fine. What possible problems could arise from promising to pay for millions of people’s health care on an already strained budget?

Actually, some of the House Republicans were surprisingly eloquent in their opposition. For example:

Rep. Scott Bruun, R-West Linn, said rights are God-given and “cannot be added to or detracted from by the whimsy of man.” A long list of worthwhile ideals could be called rights, he said.

“Let’s acknowledge health care is important,” he said, “but it is not a right.”

Rights derived from government do not fit with “our notion of natural human rights” that stem “from the natural autonomy of human beings,” said Rep. Linda Flores, R-Clackamas. “If we start with ‘health care is a right,’ what’s next?”

In other news, an eight-old girl introduced a bill in the Senate to make ponies and cupcakes a fundamental right.

  1. Sakaki says:


    Your example fails in that you do not seem to look at the issue of higher ed as an investment that pays off over time. Not to mention taking out the fact that many more students who would have gone to the U of O have not, opting to go other places because it’s cheaper or because the other programs are better.

    That, my friend, is the free market. It always works, even if you wish it not to.


    Eh, no matter to me. I prefer firing a Browning .50 into my opponents, anyways.

  2. Timothy says:

    I think we can agree that if this were the case, there would be fewer students at U of O, because tuition would be higher.

    Maybe, maybe not, you have to look at removing the subsidy of Federal student loans/financial aid because that is a key factor in creating excess demand and pushing the price up. Remove the mitigating factor only, that is the state money from the school’s operating budget and you’re going to see an increase, yeah, but in a completely free market there wouldn’t be the demand side issue either.

    Also keep in mind that the UO is not subject to the same sort of budgetary and competitive pressures that a private-sector entity is subject to. There’s no bottom line, no shareholders who will be pissed if you over run costs for the quarter and miss your EPS target by a few cents. That sort of incentive structure is important to make a market have the properties we might like. As to healthcare, well, very complicated and most people are so damned emotional about it…my position is that it’s mostly a third-party payer problem coupled with a lot of your standard public choice crap.

    Sakaki – I would suggest that shouting DEMAND KURVE as loudly as you can isn’t very effective.

  3. Ford says:

    Sakaki says “The free market always works, even if it

  4. Vincent says:

    I bet that we have the technology today to feed everyone on this planet

    We do have the technology to do just that. The problem is one of distribution. It’s much easier for people to get the food they need when they’re not living under corrupt and oppressive governments (or some kind of anarchic “warlord” situation).

  5. Timothy says:

    Well, that same person was a delusional schizophrenic who believed he was the son of some omnipotent creator god, so how much is his word really worth?

  6. Liz says:

    This rights debate falls under social rights. It is silly to assume that people do not work & that is why they don’t have health care. I bet that we have the technology today to feed everyone on this planet, which is also arguably a social “right.” That the society is stratified while some get paid not enough to live on & others get paid more, is an economic fact. I believe that some of the wealthy have responsibilities to the workers which are not being freely given & the debate is a symptom of a larger problem. If choice were the answer, then likely the middle class could choose to be wealthy. Anyway, just because the technology exists, people die every day of hunger. And I really can’t judge the rest of the wealthy for this. However, I think someone once said that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to get into heaven.

  7. Sakaki says:

    The free market always works, even if it’s not the way we want it.

    In my case, it’s because I know where to shop for good medical care, how to shop for good medical care, and make connections in order to get better care at a cheaper rate. The problem is that people are unwilling to look for the help that is needed. For instance, someone can go to a place like the White Bird Clinic and get just as good of preventative maintenance done than to a 1,000 dollar per visit clinic. But they have to be willing to actually go out and look for the people who do such a thing.

    This is one of the big reasons why I am a huge proponent of the country doctor, the doctor in the small town, who practices preventative medicine that works.

    In other words: Your healthcare woes are not my problem. If you want better healthcare, work for it. Don’t expect it to be handed to you, or for me to pay it for you. If I did, it would only be after I win the lottery.

  8. Timothy says:

    Linda – The existence problem does not imply that the best or even a good solution comes from government. To the extent that the current mishmash of welfare and fail is a healthcare “market” most of the issues come from perverse incentives like the tax code. Do situations like your purported one suck? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that socialism is the answer.

    Ford – You are not a very good troll.

  9. Ford says:

    Sakaki is an idiot. The free market always works? Have you ever been to an economics class? About 5 minutes into the first lecture, the term “market failures” comes up. That should be your first hint. Second, look to the real world where the free market brought us the, say, great depression, or closer to home, the subprime mortgage mess. Clearly, something is not working.

  10. Linda says:

    What? How can you guys say that healthcare is only a right for those who can PAY for it? Doesn’t that seem a little.. psychotic? Like, only rich/well-to-do people can have health care? Or they should just… what… die? if they can’t afford it. Wow…

    I don’t see how universal health care would jeopardize the health care people already have if they want to continue paying for it (ie, you can utilize the low cost US Postal Service, or pay more for faster/better service through a courier like FedEx or UPS.)

    How is the free market working for this? I’ll even use myself as an example. College educated (and Republican, mind you) parents with a college educated daughter (me). I worked my ass off and got a good job (after MONTHS of searching because just a four year degree isnt’ really enough to get me a good job, good thing I am planning on law school later!) at a law firm. Now, my boss even pays my health care premium! I am very fiscally responsible, but between rent, utilities, student loan payments, car insurance, car payments (yes I pay for these things all by myself, no help from mommy and daddy!) I still can’t afford the doctor visits I need. Neither can my parents even if they wanted to help me. I won’t get really personal with what specific medical needs I have, but they are pretty urgent and none of them are my “fault” (I work out religiously and eat very healthy foods, and they aren’t injuries). Yeah, the free market will take care of me…

  11. Timothy says:

    Or it mostly works, at least, which is certainly more that you can say for government.

  12. Sakaki says:

    Living in a society where healthcare is used as a political football does nothing to help a society, and trying to universalize it does nothing more than to rape the average American of their ability to get the best care THEY can buy.

    The free market ALWAYS works.

  13. Toby says:

    Guess it is the fundamental right of the state government to tax me up the ass and use the money to pay for health care for those who don’t feel like working.

  14. Ford says:

    Making the discussion of free healthcare about “rights” just clouds the issue and invites too many dramatic appeals to the abstract. Let’s examine the issue of healthcare pragmatically: does providing care for everyone increase or decrease the social welfare? That can be answered on a strictly number basis itself. As an alternate or a compliment, we can talk about what we value more as a society, healthy people or personal property protection (less taxation). The “human right” discussion is an aberration of the later, dragged down by the political baggage attached to the terms “human rights” (God, guns) and “free healthcare” (Hilcare and communism) and partisan ideology (Thx Shadow!).

  15. Cathy Clemens says:

    I see healthcare, including mental health care, as a human right. I have dealt with mild schizophrenia (delusions) and although I seem to be on the road to recovery, I really appreciated the counseling I received at various times. Medications did not work for me. Access to healthcare can allow preventative care that is less costly than the emergency care that the government can end up paying for anyway. Counseling, peer support and seeing others dealing with challenges living fulfilling lives all helped with my recovery. Keeping hope alive was key. Living in a society where healthcare is valued fuels hope as well as recovery.

  16. Steve Plunk says:

    The idea of fundamental human rights being God given is more than just a religious statement. Elevating those rights to a divine level protects them from government modification or elimination.

    I’m not much of a church goer but if keeping my my rights protected from the influence of other men involved a witch doctor, wiccan, and voodoo lady then sprinkle me with fairy dust and sign me up.

    Shadow points out the obvious but obscured. We already have such a right just not a right to have others pay for it.

  17. Shadow says:

    health care is a right just like guns are… Yea, you can have it, but you have to pay for it somehow. The government shouldn’t issue it out…

  18. Timothy says:

    Other than the God-given nonsense, Bruun isn’t that out of line with standard natural rights arguments. Stupid politicians and their stupid positive liberty.

  19. Ford says:

    Considering how well our state and national governments do with our other rights, I don’t think the fiscal conservatives should get worried yet.

  20. T says:

    Scott Bruun sounds deranged.

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