Column on Coercion and Laziness

Coercion and Laziness
Tibor R. Machan
When people have a strong urge to get something accomplished they cannot–or perhaps better put are unwilling to–do by themselves, they often insist that it must be done by the government.  This is what has been happening with the whole health care/insurance fiasco.  Yes, it is very desirable to be insured against medical mishap or disaster.  Yes, many are uninsured, though not so many as the alarmists in the debate claim.  And yes, those most alarmed aren’t going to be able to afford to insure everyone they want to see insured.  So, presto, government is urged to force everyone to contribute to the system whether or not this is a priority for them.
A good example came to light this last Sunday (October 3rd, 2009) when The New York Times Magazine profiled the actress Anna Deavere Smith who is about to open a show at the Second Stage Theater in Manhattan, "Let Me Down Easy," in which she plays 20 characters and unabashedly promotes the Obama type health care reform.  She will recite monologues on this topic, mostly attempts to intimidate those who think that people should obtain their own insurance or should seek help from volunteers.  It doesn’t even occur to the lady that help is supposed to be granted voluntarily, not at the point of the gun.  Here is part of her screed:
"…And if you fail, It’s your own fault– Why should anybody else have to help you? And I reject that.  It’s inconsistent with my values.  I disagree very strongly with it…."
Notice that this is all a distortion of the real issue.  Health insurance is every adult’s own responsibility and if some are simply unable to buy it, there is the option of appealing to others for help.  (When they neglect to buy it and spend the money on other, more satisfying purchases, that is no one’s fault but their own.) And the appeal may have to be persistent.  And, yes, at times it will fail.  
But none of that authorizes anyone to take out a gun and conscript the support of other people, people who may well have important matters to accomplish with their limited resources. Or even if they do not, they aren’t to be used by Ms. Smith and Mr. Obama against their own will.  Has Ms. Smith never heard that slavery and involuntary servitude were abolished? Does she not grasp the simple truth that one has a right to one’s own life and that to give of that life one must be free to do so, not be coerced by others?  Has she never figured out that charity, generosity, compassion and such are all morally worthwhile only if volunteered? And has she never realized that she is not the boss of everyone with whom she disagrees?
To disagree very strongly with the idea that others ought to obtain health insurance or health care without coercing anyone is no justification for violating their human rights.  Even if it were a terribly greedy, heartless thing not to help those who need health insurance and health care, that would still not suffice as a reason to violate their right to life, liberty or property.  But by no means does it have to be for that reason that many refuse to buckle under Obama’s massive wealth redistribution health program.
Suppose back in the days of chattel slavery the masters could make out a pretty good case that they desperately needed the work of their slaves, that without that work they would be very hard up.  Would that have made slavery OK?  No, not at all. So the dire needs of many for health insurance and health care similarly fail to support any kind of coercion against the rest.
Perhaps it is just plain laziness.  It is far more cool to put on a play in Manhattan than to start up a charitable foundation and go out to solicit sufficient funds to help those who need health insurance and health care.  Or to get out and solicit the unpaid work of health care professionals who could remedy matters for those who cannot afford health care.
It is sad that so many civilized human beings so cavalierly resort to forcing others to do their bidding, even granting that their cause is a respectable one. 

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