Unalienable Rights

A friend of the family came over for dinner tonight, and as I’m sure has been occurring over many American family dinners, the subject of health care came up.

I admittedly know very little about the whole affair.  So far in my life my mother has paid for my health insurance and I also haven’t read the proposed bill.  But I do believe that all people in the world have a right to medical care, as they also have a right to clean water.  And these rights aren’t free.  Someone has to pay for them.

I don’t really care that my mother would rather pay less for her health insurance because as long as she can afford to pay it, she won’t be denied coverage or go into debt for expected and unexpected medical expenses.  And the fact that her insurance is so high is frankly because she has chosen to remain unemployed, or more appropriately, retired.  If she got a job, her employer would have to foot most of the bill.

When talking to the two 50+ adults at the table, they thought the world was so simple. Why care about the people who can’t afford a doctor’s visit when you are sick of paying the amount you are?  Or, why change the system when you are already covered?

I don’t know that the proposed plan will work, but I do think that it is a problem that money interferes with health.  The other people at the table were forgetting, ignoring, or oblivious (I don’t know which one) to all the reasons that people cannot afford health care and did not want to sacrifice anything–their own quality of care, the price they pay in taxes or in insurance–in order to take care of their fellow but economically unfortunate citizens.

Some people are born poor and it takes a hell of a person to break away from the culture, environment, and mentality of where s/he came from.  You can’t really blame all the poor people for being poor when you think about all the people who are unmotivated slackers but were born in a world where education was mandatory, where both parents cared about the child, where going to college was not up for debate.  I can think of lots of people I know who would be drug dealers or addicts if they were born to parents with less money.  They now have the comfort of being merely recreational drug users.

When you also think about the illnesses that plague the poor–obesity, diabetes, heart disease–these things are all related to money.  Healthy food ain’t cheap and takes time to prepare.  When you are working a 40+ hr/week job and you don’t have a husband around, it’s hard to make time to cook a meal, let alone buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  And forget about a gym membership.  Sure, you can exercise outside…if you have the time, which means you have managed to work enough hours to feed your family, pay your rent, pay your other bills, pay for your kids’ clothes, and also had enough time to clean your house.  It also supposes that you live in a city where the weather is bearable (not Houston).

So if you’re underprivileged, you’re screwed cause you’re more likely to have an unhealthy lifestyle and you also don’t have the money to combat your own unhealthiness.

I thought young people were the ones who saw the world in black and white.  But I think it’s our parents.  I can see that there are many underlying causes to why people cannot afford health care–not that I know what they all are, only that many exist–and in my good health I can afford to not be selfish and desire that other people are guaranteed the same doctor’s visits and MRIs that I am.

This health care bill is probably not the answer to all our problems and I don’t even know if universal coverage is possible in a free market.  But I still believe that people have an inexorable right to the maintenance of their good health, even if the attainment of that right is unfeasible.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I know the Declaration of Independence is not a legally binding document, but shouldn’t the unalienable Right to Life include its sustainment thereof?



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3 responses to “Unalienable Rights

  1. Hannah

    wow! really good post — put this one on your fb status so people read it..you really write clearly and you obviously put a lot of thought into this..i enjoyed it 🙂

  2. Sarah N.

    Wonderful post! You are absolutely correct! As for the unalienable rights, well, I could argue that point on a variety of subjects but it seems like nobody really cares that it’s in there in the first place.

  3. Pingback: Haters, they gonna hate | Throwing in the Towel

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