Human Basics: Liberty in Action (was: Libertarian Commentary on the News, #15-04D)

By Nathan Barton

Good morning.  Let us look at two basics of human life today, to start.  Marriage and health care.

Judge Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court is back in the news, telling his governor and legislature that the federal judge has NO AUTHORITY to strike down the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a single man and a single woman (regardless of sexual orientation). Now, a Nazgul is a Nazgul, but still… Given the decision of the SCOTUS to take up the issue, this may have significant impact.  But this pushes to the heart of the entire issue as to whether the FedGov is a NATIONAL government or the servant of the Fifty States: whether the FedGov and a very few judges (5, to be precise) can dictate basic English definitions and moral issues to the Fifty States or to the people.  (The issue of whether ANY government can dictate such things to the people is a separate issue.)  Moore is very controversial, and was removed from office only to be reelected in 2012; he seems to be supported by 81 percent of the State of Alabama’s voters, at a minimum. And even attorneys can sometimes be right!

Meanwhile, an Oklahoma legislator is proposing an even more radical solution: getting the government OUT of the marriage business entirely. This is of course nothing new: I and many libertarians and religious-minded people have proposed just this solution (or a variant of what the man is proposing).  Todd Russ points out correctly:Marriages are not supposed to be a government thing anyway,” He wants religious organizations to sign and prepare a certificate that would be filed with county officials: for those with no religious affiliation, this would be a statement of “common law” marriage, and judges would no longer perform weddings. I don’t have the foggiest how far this will get: even losing a few dollars and control for “licenses” will be anathema to many politicians.

One of the issues very seldom discussed in this debate is whether or not a government has ANY authority, any power, to arbitrarily redefine words.  (The Constitution grants the FedGov power to “establish” weights and measures, which is the closest I can find.  But I see no power to change the definition of a pound or a foot or a mile or a meter.  And certainly not for “marriage.”  The argument for redefining marriage is based on government laws recognizing marriage, which included a definition.  But that definition is based on millennia of customary use: both religious use and common law.  It is also argued that marriage must be defined in order for divorce to be defined and regulated.

As I’ve asked before, where is there any authority for government (especially for the FedGov, not the states) to regulate either marriage or divorce?  As government has increasingly rejected ANY “religious basis” for laws and regulations (even though there are still many laws based on religious grounds), the “need” to define marriage (and divorce) has been growing, and of course, who ever met or heard of a government that was not willing to expand its authority in ANY way?

So if marriage can be redefined (as divorce was, for all intents and purposes), then is there anything that cannot be redefined by government? For example, can the powers that be redefine health care?

How’s your health care?  How about health care for the poor, the indigent, and those without jobs? Medicaid is Bigger, Not Better, according to Forbes. ObummerCare’s Medicaid expansion expanded an already troubled program.  The costs are coming to roost: not just dollar costs but costs in people’s lives and a decline in quality of care.  No wonder we see the situation described in the next story.

Gallup has released a New Poll that shows Americans are worried about health care costs. According to a new Gallup poll, people see health care costs and low wages as the “most important financial problem” facing their families.  I can see this in my family, and in a lot of other families I know.  Again, it is not just the direct costs, but the indirect costs.  FedGov policies have closed thousands of hospitals over the past few decades: it isn’t just being charged $200 for an office visit, but also the cost of having to travel 200+ miles one way for many people to find the doctor needed, and similar costs.  And it is the fear of litigation that means that people are given MRIs and CAT scans for conditions like measles and pneumonia.  And of course, “free medical” care paid for by insurance, Medicaid and Medicare just raises the costs while doctors and other medical personnel retire and flee.

Of course, as the Brits are now arguing, the Feds COULD just redefine health care even more than they do.  For example, “mental health” didn’t used to be called “health” at all: caring for someone’s mental health used to be the responsibility of preachers and priests and family members, but then the psychiatrists wanted to get on the government and insurance gravy train.  Today, health care includes both the killing of babies (in or mostly in the womb) AND assisted suicide: never mind what the Hippocratic Oath or Nightingale Oath say.  (Neither of which was created by a government agency or legislature.)  But now government blithely defines them as anything that they want. So why not change the definition of health care to include putting us down when we get too expensive or just don’t have (in THEIR opinion) adequate “quality of life?”

Of course, we could talk about OTHER definitions, such as “defense” and “intelligence” and “education.”  Speaking of education:

Federal policies raise tuition prices, as discussed in a study by Heritage Foundation. Since 1980, tuition at public and private universities has grown more than twice as fast as the rate of inflation. The fact that FedGov policies contribute SIGNIFICANTLY to this is only common sense for anyone familiar with the situation, but it requires a lot of proof and argument for most people.  The proposed “community college” initiative by that squatter at 1600 PA is just going to accelerate the process: unlimited demand for “free” services will require higher and higher prices to be paid by the FedGov (and their partners, the states).

Mama’s Note: The fact that this higher and higher cost comes with poorer and poorer education is too often not recognized. There are people working two minimum wage jobs who will reach retirement age long before they pay off their “student loans.” They didn’t get an education, just a ball and chain.

Back to both healthcare and marriage: NEITHER of these are “rights” as I understand rights: things that people have (or do) that do NOT require that someone else gives up something or is forced to do for them.  Healthcare is like food: food is NOT a right, because if it is your right to receive food, then someone else must be forced either to pay for the food FOR you, or to grow and provide the food to you.  If healthcare is a right, someone is, in essence, enslaved to provide that service (and materials: drugs and such) to you without being paid for that, or someone is forced to pay it for you.  (Not that being paid is different from slavery if you are FORCED to do the work even if paid.)  In the same way, marriage canNOT be a right, as you must first find someone willing to marry you: if it were a right, then someone could be forced to marry you. Education is a similar “non-right” – you certainly have every right to learn as much as you wish (and can pay for) but (claims in various constitutions to “free tuition” to the contrary) a right to education means that someone is FORCED to teach you, or at least to provide the materials that you can use to educate yourself.  Yes, I know that is contrary to everything taught as being “right” and “fair” and “rights” today, but that is just too bad.

Human basics?  Freedom. Life.  Meaning freedom from aggression. Pursuit of happiness, or in the original version, property: again, freedom from aggression.  Not much, is it?

Mama’s Note: More and more I avoid the use of the term “rights.” As with so many other words, the meaning has been so twisted that few use it correctly. I tend to speak and write about authority instead. Each person actually does own their life. In other words, each person has complete authority over their lives and property. No person or group has any legitimate authority to force another to do anything, much less dictate how they live or speak or care for their dependents.

So, all of these problems and questions are answered if each person would measure their needs and wants, their choices and actions against the primary law of the universe:

No human being has the authority to initiate force against another human being under any circumstances, nor to delegate such initiation of force. Every human being has the authority to defend their life, and that of others, against such initiation of force, by any means necessary.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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1 Response to Human Basics: Liberty in Action (was: Libertarian Commentary on the News, #15-04D)

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