Saturday, March 03, 2012

Rooting for the right things...

Henry David Thoreau once stated that "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." I guess he meant that people are more inclined to examine the more frivolous aspects of a problem than to examine its basic core. Henry came to mind this week when I heard a lot of people, both in and out of Congress, arguing about whether the government should force health insurance companies to furnish birth control materials and services to their customers.

For the most part, Democrats and liberals claim that companies should be required to provide the materials and services, while Republicans and conservatives claim that the companies shouldn't be required to provide the materials and services. It seems that currently the former group is winning, although I suspect the latter group will continue to hack away at this latest government intrusion into our health care affairs, not because they are opposed to government intrusion, but simply because they are opposed to this particular intrusion.

Nobody, except Libertarians, are striking at the root of the problem, which is that government shouldn't be forcing any business to offer any service. Certainly if a person enters into a contract with an insurance company, one of the roles of government should be to offer both parties a remedy if the contract isn't followed or honored, but that's about as far as government should go.

With the number of people who apparently want birth control coverage, we can rest assured that many companies would be willing to step up and offer policies that included that coverage. I also trust that many companies would be willing to offer policies that don't offer that coverage, for those of us who find our insurance more affordable if it is used for occasional catastrophes instead daily expenses.

I've also heard the argument that since people have the right use birth control, health insurance companies should be required furnish it. We also have the right to buy gasoline, but I'm not sure we should expect our auto insurance company to fill our tanks anytime in the near future. Unless, that is, you find a policy that offers that provision. And if enough people request it, you can bet some company somewhere will offer such a policy.

One thing so many people misunderstand about their individual rights is that they cannot conflict with another person's individual rights. While one person has the right to buy and use birth control, the next person also has the right to abstain from buying and using birth control. Your right remains valid until you use force, or the threat of force, to prevent another person from buying or using it, or until you use force, or the threat of force, to make another person buy or use it.

A lot of Republicans and Democrats believe our individual rights can be negated as long as a majority of elected officials and a handful of judges agree on some new law or government program.

That's not right.


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