Instead of the offering a principled alternative, the focus of the GOP has been merely to fight against the Democrats' baleful plan while accepting their premise.
In 1994, Republicans successfully fended off Clinton's healthcare proposal. After taking back control of Congress, for a decade and a half Republicans did nothing to fix the tangled regulatory mess caused by government bedevilment in healthcare. Instead of unwinding the crippling interventionist programs and regulations, Republicans complacently let the costly errors of an inherently flawed government-orchestrated system compound. Republicans had their chance and stood idle.
In the game of politics it might make sense for the minority party to steer clear from rallying around an alternative that has no chance of passing, but it is not enough for the Republicans to simply oppose bad policy when they've had years to address the root of the problem.
For the last three years we've witnessed a furious debate around healthcare reform in America. In typical fashion, the media and politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) directed our attention to arguing over detached, surface-level issues instead of the real problems. The bottom line is that the Republicans and Democrats have both shown they support socialized, government solutions to healthcare – only varying by degree. Democrats are just a more consistent and explicit in their message, but there is really not a material difference when it comes to basic principles.
Advocates for liberty should argue that Obamacare, and for that matter any government intervention in the market of providing health care, is a blatant violation of human rights. We, as human beings, may have certain responsibilities to help men and women in need, but using the force of government to coerce people into providing a service is not benevolence. It is immoral laziness.
I understand that access to medical care is, in many cases, a matter of life and death. The debate around this subject carries correspondingly weighty emotional arguments. The public is bombarded with anecdotal talking points from the popular media that confound a myriad of surface-level, consequential concretes without any reference to a consistent system of ideas. Typically, the arguments around health care are framed in a manner which presupposes that it is a human right to secure some entitlement to special privilege: "Everyone has a right to affordable care. We are a rich country. We should provide health care to people who need health care."
The astute reader may ask the question: “Who is the ‘we’ that must provide that care?” Perhaps the question one should consider is: “Can an entitlement to a good or service produced by another really be considered a human right. Can something be a right if it necessarily implies the obligation on the part of another?”
To assert that medical care must be provided as a human right is a contradiction. This necessarily implies that one person has a positive obligation to provide a product or service to another. The forced surrender of labor and property (whether it is forced medical care or mandatory insurance) for the benefit of another is a stark violation of human rights. Even with best intentions, central planners cannot magically create human rights by abrogating the human rights of another.
Moreover, it is misleading to think of healthcare as a “system” that can be controlled and distributed to the needy by a central authority. ‘Healthcare’ is a generalized term for a very specific combination of goods and service of a scarce quantity offered by and consumed by individual humans. Health care does not just appear automatically in nature. It must be produced by someone through intense physical and mental effort.
The claim that it is the role of government to ensure everyone is provided with health care or health insurance is analogous to claiming that it is the government’s role to ensure everyone has access to a car, cell phone, and color tv. Should everyone enjoy the right to these goods as well? Unfortunately, self-described Progressives today answer “yes”.
Many people have come to view modern conveniences as necessities without considering what has made the increased standard of living possible. Human advancement for centuries was gradual or flat. It was a social system built on the principles of freedom and individual rights that catapulted mankind into realizing achievements past generations could not even conceptualize.
Advocates of using the centralized, monopolistic instrument of government coercion to force a group to work for the special privilege of another attempt to constrict the very engine that makes this debate even possible – a political/economic system that respects individual human rights.
Perhaps our vision of history and human rights has been skewed by our crystal-clear 21st century LASIK eyesight….