No, Universal Health Care is not Slavery

Since the Affordable Care Act was being debated (and possibly even before that), some conservatives have attempted to equate the idea of universal healthcare with slavery.

According to Ben Carson:

“You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery, and it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

According to Rand Paul:

“With regard to the idea whether or not you have a right to health care you have to realize what that implies. I am a physician. You have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. You are going to enslave not only me but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants, the nurses. … You are basically saying you believe in slavery”

This idea has been endlessly parroted. Checkout most any online discussion about universal health care and someone is sure to tell you that a right to health care means giving one person the right to the labor of others. In other words, slavery.

There’s a question I like to ask of the (supposedly) Constitution-loving conservatives who draw this comparison: Have you read the Sixth Amendment?

“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 wherein 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 defence.”

It would seem that the founding document of these United States clearly gives one person (a criminal defendant) the right to the labor of others (assistance of counsel). When someone cannot afford an attorney, “Big Government” provides one for them.

Does that mean our beloved Constitution endorses the enslavement of not only attorneys, but also judges, jurors, the janitor at the courthouse, and all the other staff required to provide a speedy public trial? Are we sending Stormtroopers to Johnnie Cochran’s house in the middle of the night to conscript him into the public defense of some random unrepentant drunk driver? Clearly not.

The idea that a right to health care somehow enslaves health care providers is just as ridiculous as the idea that the right to an attorney in a criminal prosecution enslaves everyone in the legal profession.


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