Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rights and Lefties

Broke out my copy of the American Citizen's Owner's Manual (aka Constitution) the other day and looked in vain for my "right" to health care.

The Preamble to our Constitution reads thus: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." The closest thing to the stealthy "right to medical care" in the preamble is the phrase "promote the general Welfare." Note the word is PROMOTE, not PROVIDE. Government promotion means advocating the concept, and ensuring the environment in which, in this case, our nation's citizens as a whole can reasonably be assured of an acceptable standard of living. Under our Constitution, the government's role is to ensure the environment in which we may fairly pursue the blessings of liberty.

The remainder of the original Constitution, beyond the Preamble, contains only instructions for the organization and functioning of the Federal government. The only mention of individual rights that I can find in the main body of the constitution is an implied right to trial by jury found in Article III. At the urging of Washington and others, Congress proposed a Bill of [Individual] Rights that were ratified in 1791 (in the first successful test of the Constitutional system) as the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Provided verbatim below:

I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

II. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

III. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

IV. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

V. No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

VI. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

VII. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

VIII. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

IX. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

No "right" to health care anywhere in the Bill of Rights. Hmmm... What about in the rest of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution?

Let's see, the Eleventh provided immunity of states from suits from out-of-state citizens and foreigners not living within the state borders; the Twelfth revised Presidential election procedures; the Thirteenth abolished slavery; the Fourteenth clarified citizenship, applied the Bill of Rights to the States, and denied public office to anyone who has rebelled against the United States. No right to health care in any of those.

The Fifteenth Amendment provided voting rights regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude; the Sixteenth allowed a Federal Income Tax; the Seventeenth took the power for appointing Senators away from state governors and allowed direct popular election; the Eighteenth prohibited the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages; the Nineteenth provided women the right to vote; the Twentieth changed the dates of commencement of congressional and presidential terms of office.

The Twenty-first allowed state and local governments to decide whether to prohibit or limit production, sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages; the Twenty-second limited the President to two terms; the Twenty-third allowed representation of the District of Columbia in the Electoral College; the Twenty-fourth prohibited restriction of voting rights due to non-payment of poll taxes; the Twenty-fifth clarified Presidential Succession; the Twenty-sixth lowered the voting age to 18; and the Twenty-seventh dealt with congressional compensation.

No “right” to health care found anywhere in our Owner's Manual. No need to establish a huge federal bureaucracy to run health care.

Want to improve our health care system? Simple enough--enact true tort reform, allow sale of insurance across state lines, and crack down on the crooks abusing the system. Government’s constitutional role is to REGULATE the system, not run it.

“Health Reform” is a power grab by the political elites—nothing more.

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