Friday, July 17, 2009

Are all men created equal?

All men are created equal. These five words do better at summarizing what America is about than any other five words you could string together. I believe that all men are created equal, and I’m glad that Jefferson had the wisdom to put these words in the Declaration of Independence. There is nothing more American than believing this to be true.

The US House recently put together a bill for universal health care in order to cover the 45 million or so people who don’t have health insurance. The CBO estimates a $1.5 trillion price tag, and the House has decided to pay for it in part by taxing the “wealthiest” Americans, which is basically any couple making over $280,000 a year. This new tax will be in addition to the higher taxes that Obama has promised for the “wealthy” to pay for his spending, and in addition to the tax hikes that will be passed in the next few years once Congress realizes the need to control federal deficit spending. I’m nowhere near that limit, but if I work hard and keep a full schedule I just may eclipse that mark and become one of the “wealthy”, although I hardly feel that way.

So this is what our government plans to do. They want to take money from me in order to give healthcare to someone who doesn’t have it. Basically, I will be paying for someone to have healthcare.

I you believe like I do, that all men are created equal, then you should have a serious problem with the above notion. Because those who support this plan tend to believe that healthcare is a right, not a responsibility. Therefore, since it is a right, every human being must be granted healthcare. But in order to do that, the money must be taken from me and given to another. In other words, I owe my fellow Americans healthcare simply because I make (or could possibly make) a certain amount of money. In other words, I am indebted to them.

This creates a problematic situation. If I am indebted to another person to the point of owing them healthcare, then what exactly have I done to incur that debt? And what has this person done to become my creditor? What is it about the two of us that makes us different to the point that I owe this person a portion of my earnings so that he/she can have healthcare or any other entitlement? I think it would be interesting to know how the supporters of this bill would answer such a simple question.

You can’t say that the debt was incurred by the mere existence of the non-healthcare person. Just being born does not entitle one person to healthcare, or retirement savings, or food stamps, or free education. Those things cost money and that money has to be paid by someone else. If you believe that all men are created equal then you will have a tough time reconciling that belief with the notion the merely existing entitles you to these things paid for by the fruits of someone else’s labor. My mere existence does not incur a debt to another person. In order to incur debt there must be an exchange of some sort of commodity or service. And that person’s mere existence does not entitle them to these things that I mentioned because they have done nothing to earn them. If you disagree, then you will have difficulty defending your beliefs in light of the truth that all men are created equal.

To claim that healthcare is a right amounts to a gross misrepresentation of what a right really is. A right is something that all human beings have regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, etc. We are born with rights. We are endowed by our Creator with them. They can’t be taken away or altered. They come with being human. Freedom of speech is a right. Voting is a right. Freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, to keep and bear arms. These things are rights. To place healthcare on that level is to say that all humans have a right to the labor of a healthcare professional, they have a right to my trade, my time; which creates a major discrepancy because if the government says that one person has a right to my labor, paid for by my money, then that in itself infringes upon my rights as a human being. I have done nothing to incur such a debt, yet I am being told that I owe this person healthcare.

The simple fact is that one person’s rights extend only so far, in that the rights of one man cannot infringe upon the rights of another. Healthcare is my trade. My commodity is time. That is how I make a living. To say that one person is born entitled to my trade, my time, is to say that his rights supersede my rights, that our mutual existence creates a debt between me and him even though nothing has been done to incur such a debt, which violates the notion that all men are created equal.

Which brings up a second question: If I pay for someone else’s healthcare and have done nothing to incur such a debt, then isn’t that person in some way indebted to me? And if I’m paying for healthcare, shouldn’t I have the right to demand responsible, healthy behavior from those who benefit from my tax money?

So if someone smokes, abuses drugs, is morbidly obese, eats too much salt or fast food, refuses to comply with doctor’s orders, engages in risky sexual activity, or participates in dangerous extracurricular activity, shouldn’t the government revoke their healthcare privileges in order to protect the taxpayer’s money? I think it would be a reasonable thing to do, which unfortunately brings the healthcare debate into a whole new realm regarding individual liberty and freedom of choice.

The point is that all of us are created equal. We may be born into different circumstances, but we all have freedom and opportunity. Taking full advantage of that opportunity and succeeding in life does not incur a debt to those who haven’t, because they were born with the same opportunities. And there is great danger in a system where one group of people provides for another group of people because that establishes power of one group over another, something the Founders never intended. This is why I oppose entitlements. It’s not because I lack compassion, it’s because I cherish liberty. If you depend on the government for food, education, daycare, retirement, healthcare, medication, or anything else…then you are NOT free! Your vote has been bought, and your liberty has been surrendered for the comfort that these entitlements bring. They have been provided for you so the providers can further ensure their reelection to office, and further ensure their power over you. That is not what America is about.

15 comments:

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

VeePee Joe Biden Sez,

"Well, we've gotta keep spending now, or we'll go bankrupt!"
>
Suggested new names for a corrupted U.S.A.

*USSA - unitedsovietsocialistamerika

*UOSA - unitedobamastatesofamerika

*UASA - unitedacornstatesamerika

*NMSA - newmandatedstatesamerika

*FGMPO - freegubmintmedicalplan-ok

*PCA - progressivechangeamerika

>

Too slow! - Czar we there yet? reb
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*

Dan Trabue said...

John said...

but if I work hard and keep a full schedule I just may eclipse that mark ($280,000) and become one of the “wealthy”, although I hardly feel that way.

Really? I make well under 1/3 of that amount and feel incredibly wealthy. You don't think $200,000+/year is wealthy?

Dan Trabue said...

They want to take money from me in order to give healthcare to someone who doesn’t have it. Basically, I will be paying for someone to have healthcare.

Well, we do this all the time, yes? I mean, before I had children, I paid taxes that went to pay for schools - and I was glad to do it because it benefited me, nonetheless. I mostly walk or bike places but I pay taxes to pay for roads. Shall we move to a purely Pay Only for What You Use system? Or are you just making the case that this is TOO much of a good thing (ie, you don't mind taxation to pay for the common wealth in general, but you don't think this particular line item is a good idea)?

John Washburn said...

Dan, without getting into too much detail I consider myself upper middle class. We live comfortably but hardly luxuriously. I drive a beat-up truck with 250k miles and the paint rusting off. Local taxes are high and it seems my tax bill continues to rise.

I put away a good bit of money for my kids' college because they likely wont qualify for any assistance. I also have retirement to save for because social security will not be available for folks like me. And because I try to be an obedient Christian, a significant portion of my income goes to charity.

We're not hurting by any means, but we're one of those families on the border between middle class and "wealthy" where we get hurt by the rising taxes by aren't so rich that we don't notice the hurt. I suppose I could scale back my practice and dip below the "wealthy" bracket.

As for your other point, I believe the gov't is responsible for providing military defense, police and fire protection, maintaining a central common currency, and maintaining infrastructure. That's it. I don't mind paying taxes for these things. I do believe that everyone should pay an equal percentage for it, whether that be income tax or sales tax. Government handouts don't fit into any of these categories. I oppose them for many reasons, but mainly because they deprive people of liberty. Dependence begets servitude.

A graduated income tax amounts to discrimination in that individuals aren't treated equally by the gov't. Lady justice lifts her blindfold and says "first tell me how much money you make, then I'll tell you how the law applies". That's not fair regardless of who benefits.

I believe in helping those in need, but doing that via the government is ineffective and inefficient and only breeds corruption in our politicians. How long has it been since LBJ declared war on poverty? And has our poverty rate changed at all? Medicare is plummeting towards bankruptcy and yet we are talking about expanding it to cover more people. We spend billions on education and yet our kids aren't getting educated, so the answer is to always spend more. Social Security is becoming insolvent, so we want to cut benefits, or raise the retirement age, or raise payroll taxes instead of actually fixing the problem that lies beneath. All of these programs have been miserable failures, and we still push for more programs similar to them. The lack of rational thought baffles me.

How many trillions have been spent over the years to help the needy? Yet, here we are talking about spending more. The answer to these problems lies in the private sector and through the generosity of the American people. We will solve nothing by spending more tax dollars.

Dan Trabue said...

I would disagree. It IS fair. It's not EQUAL, but it is fair.

The student who is blind might need some additional assistance that the student who is NOT blind (a Braille book, for instance instead of a regular book). Now EQUALITY would demand that we only supply all students with the same thing: A regular book. But FAIRNESS demands different treatment for the one who can't read a regular book.

I think most Americans agree with me (including T. Jefferson), in that the most fair thing is for those who make more (like me and you) to pay a larger percentage and those who make even more pay an even larger percentage.

Jefferson talked about ALL the moneys for gov't coming from the wealthy. I'm not as progressive as Jefferson was in that regards, but I DO think we/they ought to pay a larger percentage, and I think most people would agree with me.

Justice demands it, it seems to us.

Dan Trabue said...

"Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by
the individual."


-Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1784.

"Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is
to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the
higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they
rise."


-Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1785

"The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the
whole taxes of the General Government are levied... Our revenues
liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus
applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see
his government supported, his children educated, and the face of
his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich
alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his
earnings."


-Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811

John Washburn said...

Dan, your analogy is off the mark. A blind person has a physical disability. Therefore, it is fair to grant him the OPPORTUNITY to succeed by providing appropriate materials. But that’s not what I’m talking about in regards to taxation and it is nowhere near an accurate representation of what you claim to support. We are all in favor of granting people with disabilities a fair opportunity.

A more accurate analogy would be the kid who isn’t blind, is perfectly capable of succeeding in class and yet chooses not to study and work hard. He receives a C for the class. Next to him is a kid who busts his butt and works hard to earn an A. But in the interest of “fairness”, we take a portion of that child’s grade and give it to the slacker who didn’t earn it so that they both now have a B. That’s collectivism in its simplest form.

I went to college on loans that I continue to pay – with insane interest rates, and I paid for medical school by opting into the military. I hardly lived a privileged life. I gave Uncle Sam 7 years of my life so that I could become a doctor. Not a dime was given to me by my parents or any trust fund to do these things. I did them on my own. So the opportunity is there if someone is willing to make the right sacrifices. Anyone who complains that they don’t have what I have was given the same opportunity in life. They chose a different path. So why take away my A so that person can pull their grade up to a B?

The fact is, there are options for people who need healthcare. If they are too poor, Medicaid is available. If they are too old, medicare is available. If they are a child, SCHIP is available. Charity hospitals are available to help the poor. Drug companies offer aid to the poor for medication. Perhaps full-health coverage is out of reach for many, but catastrophic coverage is available for lower prices. Yes, purchasing these things may cost money, but for many it is within reach and they simply opt not to buy it because they’d rather spend money on other things. I’ve SEEN IT first hand during my career. I’ve treated uninsured people who were adorned in gold jewelry and had to put their cell-phone away when I entered the room. I’ve treated uninsured people who smoke 2 packs a day (amounting to about $300 a month in cigarettes). I’ve treated an uninsured person only to see them drive off in a Lexus SUV. Should I have to pay higher taxes because this person chooses not to buy health insurance? And you claim this is fair?

John Washburn said...

And if you think the gov't is the most efficient way to provide for people, then you should know that your income tax bill represents the MINIMUM amount that you need to pay.

You DO have the option to contribute more. The IRS would be glad to have your contribution. Personally, I'd rather have a tax cut and give the extra money to more efficient, more effective private charities. But that's just me.

Dan Trabue said...

And if you don't like the way the system is, you can work to change it or leave and start your own country with a flat tax.

In the meantime, you're stuck with the system as it is and I'd suggest you'll have to do a better job of convincing us of the logic and moral standing of your argument. I am not convinced.

Dan Trabue said...

Which is to say, I find Thomas Jefferson's position on the topic of progressive taxation more believable and moral and just than yours. You want things to be different, you'll have to make a better argument than Jefferson made and convince us of the righteousness of your position.

You might could do so on health care. I probably lean towards agreeing with the Obama approach right now, but I'm not convinced. But you'd have a harder time convincing me (and I suspect most people) of the righteousness of a flat tax.

We agree with Jefferson on that point.

John Washburn said...

Dan, I was simply pointing out that people who believe in government answers have the option to further support those beliefs with more contributions, rather than forcing those of us who don’t believe in government answers to pay more. I believe in private solutions, which is why I give money to hospitals like St Jude, which never charges people who can’t afford care and still provides some of the best medical care in the world. I wonder if (God forbid) your child ever got sick, would you prefer the local government-run county hospital or St Jude?

Unfortunately, Obama needs more money to fund his government programs so he plans to take away the tax-deductions for contributions to such facilities. Part of my argument against progressive taxation is that the more you tax the rich, the less money remains available for charitable contributions. Thus, government programs are favored over private-sector solutions, which ultimately means more government hospitals and fewer facilities like St Jude. Is that the vision for better healthcare in America?

As for Jefferson, he was speaking in a very different time and it does him an injustice to apply his words to our modern-day government. For one, income taxes weren’t even around back then. The government was funded by tariffs and property taxes which, naturally, would fall predominantly on the wealthy. And the government was much smaller back then. In fact, it was the income tax that allowed the government to become so massive. Knowing what I know about Jefferson, I doubt he would support any income tax, progressive or not.

If we decided to shrink the federal government to the size that it was under Jefferson and abolish the income tax, then I would be more than happy to pay a higher percentage tax on goods and property than my neighbor. But don’t try to convince us that Jefferson was a big-government believer. If he were around today he would be appalled by the bloated government and I seriously doubt he would be calling for more taxes on the rich to further expand it. You seem to think that Jefferson would be okay with the government taking upwards of 50% of someone's income.

Sorry, but I don't buy it. Jefferson believed in liberty too much.

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

There are some wrinkles in Obama's Health-Care.

Humanitarian Lawyers Are Getting Rich with Mesothelioma Cases, as Nationalized Health-Care threatens to Destroy MediCare!

God help those in their 60's! reb

----

Meanwhile, the Big Debate between "Understanding Islam" blogger Mohamed Fadly, and the scholarly "Amillennialist" moves into High-gear...

Twenty-eight printed pages added just yesterday, as this Verbal Jihad heats to the boiling point!

See our "Memorial Parade" post.

reb
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www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

"As for Jefferson, he was speaking in a very different time and it does him an injustice to apply his words to our modern-day government."

John, I do not disagree. This is why whenever someone poses the proposition that strict constructionists of the Constitution are correct in their interpretation, I think they are all wet.

TLGK

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

I agree with Loop Garoo. It was a different time & political climate.

Tom Jefferson was a great intellect
but never dreamed of Chicago's Barry Obama Progressive Socialism running a Smooth Con on the majority. Never dreamed of the possibility of a Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid capturing the House & Senate in 2006. Or, Barney Frank & Chris Dodd in Charge of Banking. That's Cold!

We might benefit from a 3rd Party of "Independents" in this Carnival
Merry-go Round of CHANGE.

NOVEMBER, 2010 folks. Be there!

reb
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