Thursday, October 9, 2008

Commodity, Right, or Responsibility?

One of the questions asked during the October 7, 2008 Presidential Debate was whether health care should be treated as a commodity.

Both candidates argued that it shouldn't, with Obama saying that it was a "right" and McCain claiming that it was a "responsibility".

Unfortunately, both candidates are trying to deny the obvious. Health care is a commodity in the broadest sense of that term: a good or service created by businessmen for trade in the marketplace. As such, the producers of health care (like the producers of any other commodity such as food, shelter, or cell phones) require freedom in order to produce. Government regulations that infringe upon that freedom will stop producers from creating this valuable commodity, as we've already seen in countries such as Canada and the UK.

The fact that modern health care is essential for human life makes it all the more crucial to allow the free market to work and to restrain the government from violating the rights of patients and health care providers. Any attempts by the government to guarantee health care as a "right" necessarily violates someone's actual rights -- either the providers or those forced to pay for others' health care against their will or both. Hence, Americans must reject the flawed notion of health care as some sort of "right" and embrace the fact that it is a commodity.

For the proper approach to thinking about this issue, I know of no better starting point than Dr. Leonard Peikoff's, "Health Care Is Not A Right".