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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 284 of my colleague Walter Williams’s new book, American Contempt for Liberty, which is a collection of many of Walter’s recent columns and essays; this quotation specifically is from Walter’s March 10, 2010, syndicated column, “Is Health Care a Right?“:

For Congress to guarantee a right to health care, or any other good or service, whether a person can afford it or not, it must diminish someone else’s rights, namely their rights to their earnings.  The reason is that Congress has no resources of its very own.  Moreover, there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy giving them those resources.  The fact that government has no resources of its very own forces one to recognize that in order for government to give one American citizen a dollar, it must first, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.  If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn.

To argue that people have a right that imposes obligations on another is an absurd concept.  A better term for new-fangled rights to health care, decent housing and food is wishes.  If we called them wishes, I would be in agreement with most other Americans for I, too, wish that everyone had adequate health care, decent housing and nutritious meals.  However, if we called them human wishes, instead of human rights, there would be confusion and cognitive dissonance.  The average American would cringe at the thought of government punishing one person because he refused to be pressed into making someone else’s wish come true.

None of my argument is to argue against charity.  Reaching into one’s own pockets to assist his fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable.  Reaching into someone else’s pockets to do so is despicable and deserves condemnation.


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