Their View: Children don’t have a right to healthcare

Dmitry Chernikov

As any left-liberal in good standing knows, the only criterion for evaluating government policies is whether they benefit the children. Bush knows about this sentiment, which is why he vetoed the Children’s Health Insurance Program on the grounds that it does not benefit the children enough. Compassionate conservatism may be back, as empire building, police state, and protectionist conservatism is diminishing in popularity.

In an Oct. 5 article, Kris Clancy claims that children “deserve” health insurance. As a matter of fact, they don’t. Children are born neither good nor bad, but innocent; and innocence carries no reward. Hence they don’t deserve any help. Perhaps Clancy wants to say that they are “entitled” to health care. Maybe they do have a positive moral claim on their parents to supply it to them. But on their parents only. For who is to be the “forgotten man” who, in Clancy’s scheme, will have to pay for this government program? Clancy has to do more than merely assign a duty to the rest of us to financially support the children of other people, of strangers, as if he were a semi-divine lawgiver like Moses. He has to justify it.

Should poor children not be allowed to suffer for undeserved conditions? Here I agree on the end of not allowing children to be sick but disagree on the means of attaining that end. For if our moral virtues are so great that we cannot stand to see poor kids unhealthy, then we should be able to supply health care to them on a purely private basis, through churches and charities and voluntary donations, instead of resorting to the use of force by the government in confiscating private wealth of other folks through taxation.

Government redistribution is entirely parasitic on the market process. We can’t say that children have a universal right to some goods, when this alleged right is purely an accident of present prosperity in the United States. Moreover, if the goal is to have fewer poor children, this bill will do the opposite of what is desired. It will encourage poor people to have more children than they can afford. In other words, it will create a moral hazard. When you subsidize something you get more of it.

The real question is, what is the best way to ensure general prosperity and felicity which translate into healthy kids? As Ludwig von Mises writes, “Modern wealth expresses itself above all in the cult of the body: hygiene, cleanliness, sport.” Yet this program will undermine consumer sovereignty and lead to less overall wealth; and poorer people means sicker people. Clancy will surely object that he only wants to soak the rich, but the market economy cannot exist without opportunities to amass great amounts of wealth, for you can only do so if you serve the consumers better than your competition. The rich have already been soaked to the limits.

Won’t this step toward socialized medicine make the health care industry more efficient? Nonsense. Contra the “Third Way,” individuals in a society can scarcely have too much creative freedom. In short, socialism is not the answer to the present administration’s fascism. It’s the same evil, namely, worship of brute force, in a different guise.

Dmitry Chernikov is a graduate student in philosophy and president of College Libertarians. Contact him at [email protected].