I have been reading some pamphlets from the Revolutionary era of late, and that got me thinking about Locke’s ideas about the right to revolution. Locke wrote:
For no Man, or Society of Men, having a Power to deliver up their Preservation, or consequently the means of it, to the Absolute Will and arbitrary Dominion of another; whenever any one shall go about to bring them into such a Slavish Condition, they will always have a right to preserve what they have not a Power to part with; and to rid themselves of those who invade this Fundamental, Sacred, and unalterable Law of Self-Preservation, for which they enter’d into Society.
How might Locke’s ideas apply to the health care debate? As we know, the Progressives, and those who are shaped by their philosophy, simply will say that Locke wrote that in the 17th century, so there’s no reason to listen, and will be tempted simply to ignore the broader question. In general, of course, the Progressives suggested that the ideas of 1776 were passe. (Of course, a century late, so too are the ideas of the Progressives).
But if we take Locke seriously, what are its implications? If they cover essental care, Rahm Emanuel’s brother’s comment run contrary to Locke:
Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years.
Presumably when life saving care is rationed, the principles of 1776, which were, in this respect, the same as Locke’s, would suggest a right to take such care by force if necessary. How far might those principles apply to medicine that serves the cause of living well, but are not essential to simply staying alive?
It’s much easier simply to follow the Progressives and dismiss all that as passe, of course. And, in the mean time, we can be thankful that, under current US law, such rationing is not legal. Let’s hope it stays that way.