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Two years ago, I wrote a post arguing that the Constitution makes healthcare a basic human right. Now, we can argue about whether the Constitution grants positive liberties or whether it only grants negative liberties. But we see an astonishing piece of semantics being played by the Republicans when they try to create the false choice between quality healthcare and universal healthcare.  We specifically refer to the piece by "anon."

He begins by claiming that the Constitution says that everyone is equal under the Constitution, but that does not mean that we should therefore treat everyone equally:

You're missing a big point about the equal protection clause. It is equal protection under the law, not that everybody must be treated equally. There is a big distinction. You can't bastardize the constitution to make up rights.

The question I have is that if we should not "bastardize the Constitution," then what about the right to privacy? It has already been decided that there is a basic right to privacy contained in the Constitution. Should we therefore, by anon's logic, get rid of Griswold? Should we therefore undo 40 years of legal precedent that was based on the fact that all Americans have a basic right to privacy? If not, then this debate has already been settled -- we can discover the common principles that are behind the Constitution like privacy and go from there. And even if it be argued that the Constitution only grants negative liberties, such as the freedom from unwarranted government interference, it should still be a matter of public policy to ensure that everyone live their lives without hindrance. And that would mean checks and balances against corporate abuse of power in the public policy realm as well as checks and balances against governmental abuse of power.

He continues:

You say that "the right of people to pursue their own lives without hindrance. The basic premise of the Bill of Rights is that everybody should be allowed to pursue their own lives in peace and security," but in order to accomplish this, you have to take some of the better health care away from those who can afford it. This immediately breaks the "pursue their own lives without hindrance" part of your argument.

But this is typical Republican reasoning -- we somehow have to choose between long waiting periods and for-profit healthcare. But anon ignores the basic facts about countries which have universal healthcare -- in these countries, life expectancy is greater than ours. That means that any drawbacks involving long waiting periods for elective healthcare are outweighed by the ability of people to obtain medical treatment without having to worry about where the money is going to come from. Another Republican argument that I have heard is that we already have universal healthcare since all emergency rooms are required to provide treatment regardless of ability to pay. But first of all, the quality of treatment varies greatly depending on ability to pay. Would anon and other Republicans suggest that all lives are equal but some lives are more equal than others? And secondly of all, the fact that all hospitals are required to provide treatment does not preclude them from suing patients who do not have the ability to pay and garnish their bank accounts.

He continues:

You need to get over your wealth envy. If you want to get the best healthcare, work longer and smarter so that you can afford it.

First of all, I would submit that if I were to have cancer and I needed treatment, I fail to see how I would be physically able to "work longer and smarter" to make ends meet. Two hours in the emergency room because the doctor's office is closed can mean $600. And how does anon expect people to work "longer and smarter" when millions of Americans are being laid off and corporations are stealing money from them by wage suppression? So, in two paragraphs, we see that anon has stated two basic principles of Animal Farm:

  1. The reason there are problems is because the masses are not working hard enough;
  1. All people are equal; however, some people are more equal than others.

It is exactly this sort of snide condescending attitude towards people less fortunate than him that lost Republicans the last two elections. And from the looks of things, it will cost them yet another one in 2010.

He continues:

Don't sit back and bitch that some people have more than you. It's this entitlement mindset that is that will bring the downfall of America.

Let me ask this -- many people in small towns all over this country want government help to stop their buildings from falling apart and killing someone when a brick falls off. They would do it themselves if they had the money, but they don't. Is that an "entitlement mindset?" Some people want to be able to make their own medical decisions and not let some far-off bureaucrat with no medical training whatsoever make those kinds of decisions. Is that an "entitlement mindset?" Some elderly people give away thousands of dollars to relatives and refuse to go into the nursing home well after they are no longer able to make their own decisions about themselves because they can't afford the fees and they don't want the nursing homes to get their money. Is that an "entitlement mindset?"

He continues:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: "From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage." ~Alexander Fraser Tytler

First of all, it turns out that this quote is an Internet hoax. But secondly of all, that is simply not true. Russia has been around for hundreds of years. The UK, France, and Germany have all been around for over a thousand years. The Romans (1000+ years), Egyptians (3000), Babylonians (4500), and Muslims (1400) all lasted well over a thousand years; China has been around for almost 6,000 years. And not only that, the Roman Republic lasted almost 500 years before its collapse and the Roman civilization lasted almost 500 years after the collapse of the Republic. And this progression discussed is a gross oversimplification which is no substitute for actually sitting down and reading about ancient civilizations and exploring the causes for their rise and decline. And finally, democracy, as it exists today, did not even begin as such until the founding of this country in 1776, so for anon to claim that democracy "always" collapses following the election of left-wing governments is ludicrous.

Originally posted to Stop the Police State! on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 01:52 PM PST.

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