Dr. Rangel on Rights and Entitlements

Dr. Rangel is dead-on here:

With so few Americans knowing what their rights are and not even understanding what the concept of "right" means, it worries me when I see surveys like this one that found that 77% feel that health care should be a right guaranteed by the government. But health care is not a "right". Health care is an entitlement in this sense. It worries me that people use "right" and "entitlement" so interchangeably.

 Health care is a service that requires others to provide and these providers must be compensated. However this compensation does not come from the government. As Dr. Peikoff (PhD) pointed out, "Government is not a productive organization; it has no source of wealth other than confiscation of the citizens’ wealth, through taxation." Government simply acts as a collector and distributor. The actual compensation comes from us or rather those of us who pay taxes. Taking something from someone and giving it to someone else does not make it a "right".

 (Emphasis mine)

I’ll never think of this without the (paraphrased) PJ O’Rourke quote "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free."

Read the rest of Dr. Rangel’s post, it’s excellent.


  1. You gotta check this – it is a pretty interesting read:

    Cyber Sex: A Threat to Real Life Intimacy?

  2. The Gunner says:

    I thought I had seen it all. I had a patient’s mother call the police on me because her “rights” had been violated. The exact reason was that another patient went ahead of them in the triage line to be seen first. What is even more insane is that the police actually showed up to file a report. Is it just me, or has the whole world gone mad? I am starting to believe that lifegaurd theory…

  3. GruntDoc says:

    Don’t know if they’re insane, but entitled? Definitely.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Government is not a productive organization? That assumes that providing services to the disadvantaged is not productive. Peikoff has a very narrow and very privileged definition of what is productive.

    As for what is or is not a right, rights are by their nature abstract and arbitrary. The right to free speech does not exist objectively anymore than the right to health care. As societies we create social compacts in which certain states or conditions are seen as rights for all, not just privileges for select groups.

  5. Do you really believe that seeing a doctor when you’re ill is purely an ‘entitlement’? That no one has a ‘right’ to good health? That the rich should be healthy because they can afford it but the poor and middle class (the taxpayers by and large) should just cough up the lung and move on as they don’t have a bank account worth billions to get heart medication?

    So American HIV+ children DESERVE to be illegally experimented on (without parental consent) in NY and NJ because they have no real ‘right’ to health? That’s a pretty f*cked up view of humanity.

    The medical fields in the US are totally screwed beyond belief. Illegals can get all the free healthcare they want (no matter how much, no matter how long, you’re illegal thus we OWE it to you) while citizens foot the bill and are told “you can’t afford treatment? Sorry”. I’ve met far too many civillian doctors out for the cash, the car and the tee-times rather than those who really want to help their patients. Have you all always been money-sucking bastards or is this purely a new thing with HMO management?

    Seriously, since when is being healthy not a right of humanity? Is not LIFE an unalienable right granted to the American people via the Founding Fathers? Or does “LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness” not count because it’s not enumerated in the Bill of Rights and Constitutional Ammendments?

  6. Remarkably, through your foul-mouthed rhetoric you haven’t addressed the central thesis: you cannot make something a Right when that entails taking something from someone else.

    No healthcare is not a right. Should our country decide it wants to make healthcare an entitlement, we’re all free to do so. That still won’t make it a right, it’ll just then be a declared entitlement.

    And before you presume to lecture me about being a “money-sucker” I’ll tell you about Emergency Medicine: 40%+ of my everyday activity doesn’t pay me one cent. Yeah, our ED (virtually all) have a 40%+ zero-pay rate. No I cannot take it as a business loss, so it’s work I do that basically ends up being free. It’s not charity, as charity entails freely giving. That’s money that was taken from me.

  7. Thanks Gruntdoc for saying what I was thinking. We have one gentleman in our ER who owes us well in excess of 300,000 dollars. Yet everytime he is sick, in he comes with his uncontrolled diabetis. We provide him good care everytime, never expecting that bill to be payed. With such irresponsible behavior on his part, I’m not even sure good health is an entitlement.

  8. I think there are a few who are confused.
    As an american citizen, we have a right to improve our situation. This means we are given scholarships to schools based on good work, financial aid, the ability to change jobs for the better…
    We have a right to dream of a perfect life and go after it.

    We are not entitled to jack s**t and quite frankly, I’m about sick of these entitlement jerks sitting around, picking their nose, instead of getting up and grabbing the oportunities this God Blessed nation gives to us each and every day and DOING something about their current condition.

    You want health care? Go GET IT. Get a better job. Get a better education to get a better job.

    Speak english.

    You want a nice house? Go GET IT.

    Quit making excuses about why life sucks and do something about it instead. In this country, there is absolutly no reason for generational poverty unless it’s out of pure lack of motivation. Systems exist for those down on their luck, not for providing for those who are lazy.

    Sooner or later, these entitlement jerks will bankrupt this nation. There will be less and less of a reason to work since the goverment will hand you everything. Less will contribute to our economy. And then what? The healthcare those who thought they were “entitled” to will be with previously used needles, in tents, with a stick to bite down on for anethesia because the system will be so drained it can’t afford the latest and greatest.

    You have the right to have or be anything you want. You have to go get it. You most certainly are not entitled to it.

  9. “As for what is or is not a right, rights are by their nature abstract and arbitrary. The right to free speech does not exist objectively anymore than the right to health care.”

    No, rights in America are not so arbitrary. The right to free speech doesn’t entail services of another party. The right to health care does, as GruntDoc has already explained. The rights declared by the Founding Fathers are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want — not to be given it without effort by somebody else.

  10. emt2doc,

    Thank you. Sometimes I feel like the only one around that sees it that way. I am quite tired of the welfare crowd on medicaid that bring their kids in with fever wanting me to write a prescription for ibuprofen (because medicaid will cover it) while they reach into their purse with manicured nails to answer their cell phone buried underneath the cigarettes and IPOD.

    It is estimated that 1% of people consume 70 percent of the healthcare dollar. That is just not sustainable.

  11. jerseycityjoan says:

    Gomer says above: “It is estimated that 1% of people consume 70 percent of the healthcare dollar. That is just not sustainable.”

    I agree.

    I also wonder: Isn’t this the #1 problem with healthcare — the extraordinarily high usage of healthcare and healthcare dollars by the heaviest users?

    If we’re spending 70 cents of every healthcare dollar on only 1-out-of-100 Americans, does it matter what the other 99 are doing? If we don’t change how we handle that top 1%, will any other change matter?

  12. Put me up there with emt2doc.