Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care is a Right, Not a Privilege!

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948, proclaimed that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of oneself and one’s family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.”

Although this statement of high principle was adopted at the urging of the “ United States ”, and although it reflects the truths of our nation’s founding documents, our government has achieved neither formal recognition nor practical realization of these rights!

Mass homelessness and the escalating health care crisis in the US are compelling evidence of our disregard for human rights. Sadly, our country is but one of many nations where grave offenses against the dignity of human beings are commonplace, and global enforcement of human rights remains a distant goal

Human rights are "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." Certainly health care falls into this category.

Proponents of the concept usually assert that all human being are endowed with certain entitlements merely by reason of being part of human society.

Even our Declaration of Independence proclaims this truth. “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”

219 years ago, Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified. Unalienable rights are not privileges. Depending on your ideology, rights are either granted to us by our Creator, or by nature, which to most people is one and the same. Privileges are granted by a society, or government entity, and are not the same as rights.

By the unalienable or "absolute rights" of individuals is meant those which are so in their primary and strictest sense, such as would belong to their persons merely in a state of nature, and which every man is entitled to enjoy, whether out of society or in it. The rights of personal security, of personal liberty, and private property do not depend upon the Constitution for their existence. They existed before the Constitution was made, or the government was organized. These are what are termed the "absolute rights" of individuals, which belong to them independently of all government, and which all governments which derive their power from the consent of the governed were instituted to protect. People v. Berberrich (N. Y.) 20 Barb. 224, 229; McCartee v. Orphan Asylum Soc. (N. Y.) 9 Cow. 437, 511, 513, 18 Am. Dec. 516; People v. Toynbee (N. Y.) 2 Parker, Cr. R. 329, 369, 370 (quoting 1 Bl. Comm. 123).

Such entitlements are shared norms of actual human moralities, justified moral norms that all people everywhere share.

We are at the early stage of what may yet become Universal Health Care for all Americans. Health Care falls within the purview of natural or Human rights!

The House passed legislation extending health care to tens of millions of our uninsured, however, the Senate must still approve the plan!

Health care for “all” people is a “human right” and an entitlement that has taken too long to achieve.

While we have struggled to achieve this right for over a century other developed countries have had some form of social insurance (that later evolved into national insurance) for nearly as long as the US has been trying to obtain it.

Some European countries started with compulsory sickness insurance, one of the first systems, for workers beginning in Germany in 1883; other countries including Austria , Hungary , Norway , Britain , Russia , and the Netherlands followed all the way through 1912. Other European countries, including Sweden in 1891, Denmark in 1892, France in 1910, and Switzerland in 1912, subsidized the mutual benefit societies that workers formed among themselves.

So for a very long time, other countries have had some form of universal health care or at least the beginnings of it. The primary reason for the emergence of these programs in Europe was income stabilization and protection against the wage loss of sickness rather than payment for medical expenses, which came later. Programs were not universal to start with and were originally conceived as a means of maintaining incomes and buying the political allegiance of the workers.

Today after nearly a century of attempts and as many failures, we are at the closest point in our history of achieving a basic Human Right for our people, Health Care. And had it not been for the party of big business, the banks, insurance companies, and the pharmaceutical corporations this goal would have been realized some 60 years ago.

Health care as well as adequate food and shelter is a basic Human right.