by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[M]edical care is a commodity, and that in life, we are often faced with commodities we cannot afford. But this mere observation caused a ruckus on the left. “Necessities don’t compare to luxuries!” said one angry tweeter. “Bless characters like Ben Shapiro for demonstrating the complete soullessness of capitalist ideology,” tweeted another.
The idea here seems to be that unless you declare medical care a right rather than a commodity, you are soulless — that as Marx might put it, necessity, rather than autonomy, creates rights.
This is foolhardy, both morally and practically.
Morally, you have no right to demand medical care of me. I may recognize your necessity and offer charity; my friends and I may choose to band together and fund your medical care. But your necessity does not change the basic math: Medical care is a service and a good provided by a third party. No matter how much I need bread, I do not have a right to steal your wallet or hold up the local bakery to obtain it. Theft may end up being my least immoral choice under the circumstances, but that does not make it a moral choice, or suggest that I have not violated your rights in pursuing my own needs.
But the left believes that declaring necessities rights somehow overcomes the individual rights of others. If you are sick, you now have the right to demand that my wife, who is a doctor, care for you. Is there any limit to this right? Do you have the right to demand that the medical system provide life-saving care forever, to the tune of millions of dollars of other people’s taxpayer dollars or services? How, exactly, can there be such a right without the government’s rationing care, using compulsion to force individuals to provide it, and confiscating mass sums of wealth to pay for it?