There is No Right to Quality of Life or Choice of Lifestyle

Now that the showcase health care summit is over, the progressives in charge of the US government are threatening to ram through Congress a federal takeover of medicine via a a little used Senate process called reconciliation. It’s a procedure that’s been used sparingly before, but only to “reconcile” the details of budgetary bills.

The liberals want to use this “nuclear option” to turn America away from free enterprise and toward the embrace of socialism.

Reconciliation in this context is branded the nuclear option because it will probably cause the average citizen in America to go “nuclear” over this abuse of power.  Every poll in America shows that the citizens of our great nation don’t want this 2700 page bureaucratic monster to burden one-sixth of our economy. If our representatives were democratic they would vote the will of the people.

But they’re not.

Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate in the history of the United States to declare that people have a right to health care. His primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, agreed with this amazing statement–never before heard in thoughtful American political discourse.

Why were these words over the top? Because the US Founding Fathers took a 5000 year leap in  understanding in 1776 when they stated in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Notice how, according to the Declaration, our legislators are first of all throwing out the “consent of the governed” in the current health care debate. More importantly, we need to be reminded which God-given rights governments are supposed to protect.

They would be: life, liberty, and property–which is the historical meaning of the phrase “pursuit of Happiness.” These are the ONLY God given rights to be protected and promoted by government. Not health care, not jobs, not homes, not immorality, not sex change operations ad nauseam.

These new kinds of  progressive “rights” are made up by people. They do not come from God and always lead to poverty and tyranny. Pursuing these “rights” starts revolutions in nations.

Championing God-given rights and their corresponding responsibilities, on the other hand, lead to spiritual and moral revivals in nations. Which one of these–revolution or revival–do you really think America needs right now?

We need to ponder this truth about rights in the current health care debate: There is no right to quality of life or choice of lifestyle. If we think that there is, then many multi–thousand page bills will coming out of Washington, D.C. in subsequent years that will destroy our lives, our economy and our freedoms.

On a February 10, 2010 Medved radio program, Michael Medved was discussing with a certain Veronica in New York about her eighteen year old friend who desired to have a sex change operation and have the state pay for it. Veronica was convinced that people should have a “right” to have the government pay for this quality of life or lifestyle choice. If the person wanted it, the government (or someone besides the individual) should pay for it.

Mr Medved tried to explain that’s not the proper concept of rights. Our founders knew well that there were only three basic human rights that God has given to all people. These rights are the only things that governments exist to protect:

Governments are ordained by a Higher Power to provide justice, or protect our:

  • Right to LIFE from DEATH
  • Right to LIBERTY from SLAVERY
  • Right to PROPERTY from TYRANNY

When governments stop protecting basic human rights and start providing all types of quality of life and so-called lifestyle choices, they leave their proper domain and open a Pandora’s box of societal demands that can never be paid for or met. Government was never designed to be your provider–only your protector from evil. Other than writing checks (which anybody can do), government is lousy at providing goods and services for people because of the lack of incentives and accountability that free markets provide.

Plus, once you believe you have a right to a certain quality of life or lifestyle choice, where does the list end? It doesn’t. That’s the foolishness of the position. If Veronica’s friend has the “right” for the government to pay for his/her preferred identity via a sex change operation, then why not pay for his or her preferred house, preferred job, or preferred entitlements of any type? This is the absurdity of the Obama-Clinton position. It expands human rights to include anything you want that will improve your circumstances.

Let’s see how this works out in the real world. A few years ago I flew to Europe to have hip surgery  through a process not allowed at the time in the United States. My roommate in Belgium was a gentleman named Graham who was part of the socialized medical scheme in Canada that the progressives admire. He, too, needed hip surgery. I paid mine out of pocket. I didn’t have a “right” to the surgery–it was a quality of life or lifestyle choice for me. It painfully cost our family $15,000.

Graham and his nation took a different approach. Graham had been a chain-smoker all his life. In his late forties, his lungs were so destroyed by his lifestyle choices that he needed a double lung transplant to maintain his quality of life. The transplant had been paid for by the Canadian tax payers to the tune of $250,000. Then there was the thousands of dollars that needed to be spent on anti-rejection medicines for the rest of his life. That, too, was covered by the tax-payers. But there was a problem. The anti-rejection medicine caused hip joint deterioration, and so he needed the same surgery that I did to correct the problem. He was looking for the Canadian government-run system to cover it as well. Now they are going broke and rationing care.

I think you get the idea. Graham had bought into the illusion that he had a “right” to a certain quality of life. Never mind that he had smoked himself into bad health. He wanted someone else to fix it. When that fix caused other problems, then he had a “right” for those problems to be fixed too. And on and on.

Now you know why socialized medicine never works but rather bankrupts treasuries. It may be a nice idea to have the government pay for my quality of life, but the truth is, either my choices or circumstances in life determine quality of life–and I don’t have a right to have government improve it. I have a responsibility to seek out private, voluntary or charitable means to meet my needs. I need to learn to trust God, be accountable for my life–and not assume that anybody owes me anything.

Governments were designed by God to protect my right to life, liberty, and property. Nothing else. The moment we expand the list, then we end up in absurdity and societal poverty. 

Can you imagine if I had tried Graham’s right-to-quality-of-life approach in my neighborhood or town instead of the federal government? What if I’d gone door-to-door demanding my “right” from my neighbors to pay for the $15,000 surgery. After, all, I have a right to quality of life! So here’s a bill for your portion of it! Pay up or else.

I don’t think that would have worked because on a local level it’s easy to see that none of us has a right to demand a certain quality of life from others. That’s up to us and the charitable choices of others. I did have some friends contribute to my hip surgery–but it was voluntary–not coerced.  Government power is not voluntary–it’s the power of force. That’s another reason why it should only be only used to protect life, liberty and property.

The progressives are wrong about health care because they don’t look to God as our source of human rights and they want to change the role of government from being a protector to a provider.

That would be a foolish mistake–as unwise and detrimental as believing in a non-existent right to quality of life.



  1. Keith on March 15, 2010 at 5:56 am

    Hey…more than a week ago, I sent a post that did not agree with the author. Do you edit for blind acceptance of the author’s opinion?

  2. Keith on March 8, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Briefly, I would agree that sex change operations, and probably lung transplant operations in a smoker should not be covered by government; or insurance for that matter. That’s what I would call rationing… good rationing.

    I find it remarkable that someone does not feel that medical treatment- like antibiotics to keep someone from dying from pneumonia, or a total hip replacement when they are walking around in pain as "life", or "the pursuit of happiness" as our founding fathers proclaimed. Is there anything that the government does that is any more in keeping with that calling than assuring the right of basic health care so that people can be able to continue to live and function? I can’t think of anything.

    By the way, the original "pursuit of happiness" did not ever mean "property". Some of the earlier rough drafts included the term "property" as did some of the British source documents, but it was a decision by our founding fathers to word it the way they did.

    It is interesting that the author went to another country to have his hip operation done! It is likely to have been one of those "socialist" countries, as we are the only modern country not to have basic health care covered. And health care is far more expensive in this country than in any other… 16% of GNP as opposed to 9% in most others.

    As for the "polls": when asked about it as a "2700 page bureaucratic monster" many (not all) polls reflect that the public leans against it. When asked about the major components of the plan (like eliminating insurance’s ability to cherry pick the healthiest people for coverage, and restricting pre-existing condition exclusions) the American people overwhelmingly endorses the component parts of the plan. Insurance companies have won the battle of perceptions and spin.


  3. J. Neely on March 3, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Brother Ron,

    Please be careful not to equate the free market system that we enjoy in America with the gospel or socialism with being anti-Christian. Jesus is transcends all political systems and where people look, Jesus will be found their. I have no problem with you sharing your views on how America should be governed but revival will not come from political activities but from the changed hearts of men towards God.

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