Sounds like sophistry to me. In practical terms, no living organism has any rights, other than to eventually die. But, is that a world we would wish to live in? Throughout the history of human civilization people have struggled to add privileges to that meager right. Privileges enabled by the expectations, labors, and sacrifices of the members of those civilizations. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” were among those privileges.
I’m 73 years old and, as a child and as a young man, I lived through the dramatic post-WWII expansion of those privileges among the middle and working classes. The overall benefits to our nation of that expansion were enormous. Over the past 40 years, I’ve watched that expansion slow and contract and I’ve watched the social stresses created by that contraction poison our political discourse.
I was a 4th-generation conservative Republican until the GOP was hijacked by self-serving, short-sighted, idiots. I’m not a Bernie Sanders socialist. I am a computer systems architect and I know that all systems, both computer and human, are a collection of compromises. Get the compromises wrong, and the systems ultimately fail.
The corrupting influence of money on social discourse and politics has unbalanced our system’s compromises and the system is failing. Income/wealth is being transferred — just not in the direction stated by the author. The ultra-wealthy and large commercial enterprises have managed— through campaign donations, paid lobbying, and paid commercial and social media — to so distort our financial systems that wealth is being transferred to the upper 1% at a rate not seen since the Gilded Age that ended around 1900.
Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations, would be appalled by the degree to which we have distorted free market capitalism. In his book, he warned us of the very abuses that are destroying us. It seems that few, if any, of the advocates of today’s crony-capitalism have ever read it.
As a conservative I had always believed that democracies failed because citizens learned that they could vote themselves money — destroying their need to work and produce. But as I have looked back through history, I can find no recorded instance of that happening. Instead, you will find that the major democracies of history, like Athens and the Roman Republic, failed because they morphed into oligarchies when their most powerful citizens took for themselves the vast majority of their society’s wealth. The resulting inequality created social stresses that ultimately destroyed those societies. It looks to me as if we’re now emulating that pattern.
Healthcare is not an individual right, but it is very much a societal imperative. Not necessarily for moral reasons (though I find them compelling), but for the very practical reason that we all live here together and, as population density increases, so does the certainty that events like the current COVID-19 pandemic can spread more easily among people without decent healthcare — and then to us, the more privileged. The argument that providing universal healthcare is too expensive, and that today’s high cost of healthcare is a result of providing coverage to those who cannot afford it, is totally specious and belied by the facts.
Effective and sustainable systems require balancing the interests of the participants. In this case, the insured, healthcare providers, insurance providers, and employers. Our current system does not do that. The insured get shortchanged, healthcare providers distort their services to meet the arbitrary rules of insurance providers, and employers have been forced into an ever increasing spiral of higher costs — all while insurance providers (and big pharma) get fatter and fatter and are able to pay multi-million dollar salaries to their CEOs, as they stack the economic and legal deck in their favor by corrupting our legislators through enormous lobbying budgets. The results of this grossly unbalanced system are ever increasing healthcare costs and declining standards of care relative to the rest of the developed nations. We need to fix the system, not justify inaction with specious arguments. Trump’s election shows us that democracy’s time is fast running out.