July 31, 2009

Muddled thinking...

Mark Shea (A writer I highly approve of...except when I want to wring his neck for his partisan venom):

...But the knee-jerk Talk Radio junk about how health care is not a right appears to me to owe far more to maintaining a system in which money is exalted over the good of the person than to anything remotely connected with Catholic teaching or common sense. One can base a credible opposition to so-called "health care reform" on worries that it's going to wind up killing a lot of innocent people as a cost-cutting measure. That I can respect.

But basing opposition to health care reform on the parroted claim that "health care is not a right"--a claim that is demonstrably rubbish if we are paying any attention to the Church's teaching, suggests that other agendas besides the desire to enact Catholic social teaching as public policy are the guiding principals at work in our thinking. That's no longer really a surprise to me, given the spectacle of Faithful Catholics[TM] striving with might and main to justify torture, but it still may be worth pointing out for Catholics who may be sensing a disconnect between the Church's actual teaching and what they are hearing from the conservative side of the blogosphere that so commonly claims adherence to the Church teaching in stark contrast to the Awful Dissenters....

This is mostly a case of getting two different ideas muddled together. Two different "rights."

I have myself actually heard Rush Limbaugh talk on this point. (I betcha Shea has just picked up some leftish rumors, and doesn't know or care what's actually said.) Rush's point was that we have a responsibility to maintain our own health, and we have a moral obligation to help those who can't help themselves. And I think (I'm not an expert) that this is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church is actually saying when it asserts that people have a right to health care.

People have a right to expect that we will assume our moral obligation, and help them if needed.

But the leftish position is something different. It is that people have a right to health care in the same way that they have a right to, say, freedom of religion. What our Constitution calls "inalienable rights." Rush's point is that this would destroy both our responsibility and our moral obligation. It would destroy Caritas.

And I would add another point, which I think is desperately important. In America we have always regarded our rights as coming ultimately from God, and thus being inalienable. They somehow exist regardless of what laws we may pass. But once you start inventing new basic rights, that concept goes out the window. Rights become just human inventions, and can be given and taken away at will.

Posted by John Weidner at July 31, 2009 1:18 PM
Weblog by John Weidner