FT104: “Driving is more of a right than health care because it doesn’t cost others when someone drives.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 10th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

Although it doesn’t Cost Others when Someone Drives it’s Still not a Right because Driving Recklessly can Cost Others

Freedom of religion is a right.  It doesn’t cost me anything (money, time, inconvenience, etc.) for my neighbor to go to church or to practice their religion.  Freedom of speech is a right because it doesn’t cost me anything when someone writes a letter to a newspaper editor.  The right to bear arms is a right because it doesn’t cost me anything when a neighbor owns a gun.  Rights are free in the sense that others don’t have to incur any costs whenever someone exercises a right.  And because they are free no one can grant them.  Or take them away.  Hence they are God-given.  And only God can take them away.  Even an atheist will favor this definition.  For these God-given rights prevent any man from taking away his or her right to publically protest the existence of God.

Housing, food, education, etc., are not rights.  Because these things are expensive.  Someone has to pay for them.  And if you don’t pay for them they will take them away from you.  Or you can lose them if you don’t follow the rules.  A principal can expel a student for causing trouble in high school.  A landlord can evict an unruly tenant in an apartment building.  And if you don’t pay your mortgage the bank can foreclose on your house and take it back.  So these aren’t rights because someone has to pay for them.  You.  Or other people.  And there is a process to go through where someone grants us access to these.  Typically paying for these things.  And following certain rules.

Interestingly, when someone drives a car it doesn’t cost me anything.  Yet driving a car is not a right.  It’s a privilege.  And the thing that makes it a privilege and not a right is similar to housing, food and education.  There are certain rules to follow.  And if a driver doesn’t follow these rules it can then cost others when they drive.  Such as if a driver ignores traffic signals, drives under the influence of alcohol, ignores the posted speed limits, drives recklessly, etc.  Such a person can involve other people who follow the rules into accidents.  Costing them dearly.  It’s because of this that driving is a privilege and not a right.

Unlike Obamacare you can Choose not to Buy Car Insurance by Choosing not to Drive

A car or truck is very heavy.  And as it moves it creates a lot of kinetic energy.  The faster it goes the greater the kinetic energy.  And the greater amount of damage it can cause in an accident.  Causing great damage to other cars.  And their occupants.  Those who were not at fault will incur great costs from these accidents.  The at-fault person, though, may not be wealthy enough to pay these costs.  That’s why we make ALL drivers buy insurance.  So the few that have accidents can have their insurance pay these great costs.  This is a classic example of the use of insurance to spread risk.  Everyone pays a small fee to create a large pool of money to pay for the few who incur these great costs.  By making drivers buy insurance we make them responsible for the consequences of their driving.

Health care is very similar to driving a car.  Only many say health care is a right.  Unlike driving a car.  But health care isn’t a right.  Far from it.  For health care is very expensive.  And someone has to pay for it.  The patient.  Or others.  Just like housing, food and education.  Also, much of our health problems are self-inflicted.  Health problems plague obese people as they age.  Smokers tend to suffer from cardiovascular disease and lung cancer.  Heavy drinkers and drug users suffer a variety of ailments.  People get hurt doing risky things (take dangerous risks while drunk, extreme sports, etc.) and incur great medical costs.  But unlike the driver of a car we don’t make these people responsible for the consequences of their actions.  Instead, we treat them and have other people pay for the consequences of their actions.

Some like to point to the individual mandate in Obamacare as addressing this very problem.  By forcing people to buy health insurance.  So they are responsible for the consequences of their actions.  They say making people buy health insurance is no different from making people buy car insurance.  But it’s not.  Because buying car insurance is not mandatory.  You can choose not to buy it simply by choosing not to drive.  Obamacare offers no such choice.  Unless you call choosing not to live an option.

Health Care is Expensive because Unlike a Driver those who don’t follow the Rules of a Healthy Lifestyle never lose their Living Privilege

Health insurance is nothing like car insurance.  Car insurance protects a person from losing all their savings from an unexpected and unfortunate accident.  By spreading the risk over a great number of people who pay a small premium.  Whereas health care has become welfare.  It has nothing to do with spreading risk.  For people today expect a complete free ride.  For everything.  Whatever the cost.  They don’t want to pay a dime.  Not even for their prescriptions.  They want someone else to pay all of their costs.

And what really makes this welfare is that it will become a pure transfer cost under Obamacare.  The vast majority of people consuming health care are senior citizens.  While the young and healthy consume the least amount of health care.  Obamacare will transfer the costs of those who consume health care to those who don’t.  By forcing the young and healthy to buy health insurance.  That they currently do not buy because they rarely see their doctors.  Instead they use the savings from not buying health insurance to afford something they do use.  Like to pay for a house to live in to start their families.  But once Obamacare forces them to buy health insurance they’ll have to find another cost to cut.  Perhaps selling their car and using public transportation.  Saving on both a car payment.  And the car insurance payment.  Because they have that choice.  Unlike under Obamacare.

Driving a car is more like a right than health care.  It doesn’t cost anyone else as long as they follow the rules of the road.  But we still make them buy car insurance in case they have an accident.  Whereas health care is unlike a right in every way.  There is always a cost whether you follow the rules or not.  And unlike a driver those who don’t follow the ‘rules of a healthy lifestyle’ never lose their ‘living privilege’.  (At least, not yet.  And let’s hope it remains that way.)  They just pass their higher health care costs to others.  Especially the young and healthy who consume very little, if any, health care.  Making it a pure welfare transfer cost.  Of course, in this case, unlike other forms of welfare, this cost will be transferred to those least able to afford it.  The young.  Most of who are not rich.

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LESSONS LEARNED #18: “Man-given rights are only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 17th, 2010

GOD WAS HERE before the Marine Corps. So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to The Corps.

(From the movie Full Metal Jacket, 1987.)

In Roman Catholicism, this is the doctrine of the two swords.  The spiritual sword is the Church.  The temporal sword is the state.  Martin Luther had the doctrine of two kingdoms.  The religious and civil.  Going back to the source, Jesus Christ put it this way:

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s 

The original separation of church and state.  Of course, back then, this was all intended to limit the state’s interference into spiritual matters.  Today it’s reversed.  It’s the state that is trying to hold the spiritual sword at bay.

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  This makes them complex.  The Enlightenment was the Age of Reason.  And guess what we did during the Age of Reason?  We thought.  Rationally.  There was a philosophical revolution going on in Europe.  Simply put, things weren’t what they were because the Church said so.  There were other explanations.  Other laws.  And the Church could be wrong.

So, if the Founding Fathers had lived in the 20th century, they would have probably been fans of the rock group Rush.  And Ayn Rand.  Who influenced Rush.  Thomas Jefferson probably would have an iPod filled with their songs, including Tom Sawyer:

No his mind is not for rent
To any god or government

They questioned ALL authority.  And some may have been Deists.  But they were not atheists.  Even Jefferson.  He may not have believed in the Trinity or Christ’s divinity, but he still believed in God.  And he worshipped Jesus in his own way.  As the world’s greatest philosopher, with his Sermon on the Mount being the best philosophy man could ask for.

THE FOUNDING FATHERS were gentlemen of the Enlightenment.  Now the other part.  The thing that makes them complex.  The gentlemen part.  What did this mean in the 18th century?  Here are some adjectives that describe a gentleman.  Honorable.  Virtuous.  Reputable.  A gentleman strived to achieve moral excellence and righteousness.  He was ethical.  His life was a steadfast adherence to a strict moral code.  And when he served in public office, it was with selfless disinterest.  He would go out of his way to NOT gain personally from his time in public office.  Some did it better than others.  But all tried.  And when they fell short, they at least put on an appearance of disinterest.  It was that important.  And expected.

In a word, restraint.  This is what a gentleman practiced.  George Washington exercised this restraint to such a degree that many found him cold and aloof.  Few saw him smile.  Few saw public displays of emotion.  What they did see was an exemplary life of virtue, honor and moral excellence.  And they would forever look at him with awe and reverence.  We do to this day.

These students of the Enlightenment, then, espoused Judeo-Christian ethics.  They questioned all authority oppressing man, whether it be Church or state.  But they did not throw out the baby with the bath water.  They remained religious.  They just wouldn’t yield to it unconditionally.  Not to the Pope.  To a bishop.  Or any other tyranny of a minority, privileged elite.  Even after their Revolution.

And they would extend this restraint to the new nation they would found.  It would be a government that would govern with the consent of the people.  But it would not be mob-rule.  Not a true democracy.  It would be representative government.  The idea was to restrain the extreme passions of the people.  They would not exchange one tyranny for another.  There would be no tyranny of the majority.

FRANCE HAD PROBLEMS in the late 18th century.  The toll of war was bankrupting the country.  Their financing of the American Revolution didn’t help either.  Food was scarce and expensive.  Famine and malnutrition were commonplace.  Among the Third Estate (the poor).  The First Estate (the Church) was doing well.  The Second Estate (the nobility), too.  Unemployed and hungry, the poor looked at the clergy and the nobility who were not. 

The Church was largely exempt from paying taxes. And the Church was the largest landholder in France.  The Church levied a 10% tax (i.e., a tithe) on the general population.  A lot of that was collected in-kind (food crops).  So the Church had more land, money and food than the starving, suffering masses.  Who became an angry mob.  That demanded democracy.

The people stormed the Bastille.  Confiscated Church property.  Overthrew the monarchy.  And sent the king and queen, and many others, to the guillotine.  Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins unleashed the Reign of Terror.  They executed political enemies, including priests, and displayed their severed heads to the angry mob.  They de-Christianized France, destroying churches and religious symbols.  They tried to do away with the Church altogether and replace it with civic and community events and organizations.  It was a revolution against Church and state.  Against law and order.  Against restraint.  They would send Robespierre himself to the guillotine at the end of his terror.  Then another terror followed to avenge the previous terror. 

There’s more to the French Revolution.  But that should suffice for now. 

FRANCE WAS IN the epicenter of the Enlightenment.  Some of the great minds of the Enlightenment were French.  But France was older than America.  And more populated.  With centuries of wrongs to right.  It was anything but a blank canvas.  Egalitarianism soon devolved into angry mob rule.  Democracy.  They went from the tyranny of a minority to the tyranny of the majority without stopping in that fertile middle ground.  As was the case in America.  Why?

It’s that blank canvas thing.  We weren’t overthrowing our history to start anew.  We had little history.  Maybe a century or two of English colonists who literally started with raw earth.  There wasn’t a rich and privileged Church.  So there wasn’t a festering resentment against the Church.  No, the early colonists escaped religious oppression and came here for religious freedom.  Which they found.  And enjoyed.

The American Revolution was more restrained.  There were no bloody reprisals after the War.  There were isolated instances of mob violence during the War, but the ‘mob’ was never in control.  The ‘gentlemen’ were always in control.  Gentlemen steeped in Judeo-Christian ethics.  From the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, the Founding Fathers built a new nation upon the Rule of Law.  And at its heart were the God-given rights enumerated in those documents.  That no man, or minority, or majority, or mob, could take away.

GOD WAS HERE before the United States.  So we can give our heart to Jesus.  But our ass belongs to the Rule of Law.

Or something like that.  We are a secular nation with a de-emphasis on the religious part.  Yes, legal punishment may dissuade you from doing wrong.  If you think the cops can catch you.  But it’s our morality that will keep us from doing wrong in the first place.  And the people at our founding were moral.  And Christian.  Or deists with Judeo-Christian ethics.

And to those who fear antidisestablishmentarianism, don’t.  I doubt the Catholics and the Protestants could agree on what an established church would be, let alone the myriad other religions peacefully coexisting with each other.  No, more religion would not result in an established church.  It may, though, result in government leaders who fear God and, maybe, they would be better leaders for it.  It sure beats us living in fear of them.

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