This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Comment

← Does Conservatism Have to Be Synonymous With Ignorance?

hungarianelephant's Avatar Jump to comment 79 by hungarianelephant

Comment 77 by danconquer :

The ability of democratic governments to collect payments and then collectively spend that money on behalf of citizens merely happens to be a particularly visible and obvious phenomena. Anyone who objects on principle should also be arguing against the existence of a fire brigade (to give just one example) as an intrusion upon individual liberty... Yet they rarely take their argument to this logically necessary conclusion, oddly enough, which shows their position isn't half as principled as they sometimes imply.

No, that's not an accurate portrayal of the thinking, any more than it would be accurate to characterise a willingness to make collective decisions as tantamount to suppressing all individual decision-making.

The argument basically is this: taxation represents the removal of a person's assets, and this is inherently wrong unless there is a convincing justification for doing so. The democratic process is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for finding that justification.

It's relatively easy to construct a justification for a fire brigade - a fire in your house threatens your neighbour's property. It's also not difficult to construct a justification for healthcare for those who cannot afford it. But what about the people who can afford it but choose not to? There are millions of these people in the US. Universal healthcare denies their right to choose to spend their resources on something else instead.

I suspect that to most of those who support universal healthcare, it's simply obvious that it should exist, and those who raise principled objections are anti-social people who should go and live in a cave (not the first time this metaphor has been used on this website). But you can turn this on its head. Why not take universal healthcare to its logical conclusion, and support universal state-backed food provision? Most civilised countries got rid of food stamps in favour of general welfare provision, because they were regarded as demeaning - yet we are quite happy not only to allocate people's resources specifically to healthcare, but even to determine what care they will be permitted to access with those resources.

As a practical matter, what the anti-UHC lobby are arguing makes no sense, for the reasons I posted above. But you still have to understand the argument.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:17:53 UTC | #927869