Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Human rights: Wrong for humans?

William Easterly, Financial Times:

In the US and other rich countries, a “right to health” is a claim on funds that has no natural limit, since any of us could get healthier with more care. We should learn from the international experience that this “right” skews public resources towards the most politically effective advocates, who will seldom be the neediest.

You see, this is why I always thought the so-called "right to vote" was a terrible idea. It amounts to little more than government by people who vote! We all know that this is mostly affluent, educated people; who in turn skew public resources away from apathetic non-voters. For this reason, no one should have the right to vote.

History shows that any ideal not immediately realized must be discarded, for anything less is unjust.


RLaing said...

What the author calls a pragmatic approach, 'directing public resources to where they have the most health benefits for a given cost' is actually a moral argument as well.

He is also correct to assert that the 'right' to a thing is a function of political power. This is why insurance corporations have a right to profits, while the public lacks a similar right to pay for their health care efficiently (ie without the executive salaries, advertising budgets and redundant bureaucracies of the insurance industry).

We learn from this that the direct purchase of politicians is a far more efficient way to modulate their behavior than giving or witholding votes, so the 'right' to vote does not result in government by those who do it. In fact, if US elections did not legitimize military aggression, they would arguably serve no practical purpose at all.

JRB said...


You have a good eye.

It's fine to raise the point, as Marx did, that "between equal rights, force decides."

But I don't take away from it a hostility toward equal rights!