Sunday, July 28, 2013
Libertarian political views don't preclude a "moral assessment" of how people meet the real needs of others
We often hear the argument, particularly with respect to the health care debate and “Obamacare” that government doesn’t the “right” or responsibility to take money from a healthy person to pay for an less healthy person’s medical problems. We hear that there is no “right” to health care, only the right to purchase it on an open market.
These libertarian arguments do resonate with me to a point, when we get into discussions about protecting individual rights from government, as in my two DADT books.
But there is a deeper question, as to what we “should” do for others , or should not do because of their downstream effects on others, beyond our horizon. I think of these as moral questions. It is true, that we want to do things for people we love, so posing this as a moral question raises questions about why we don’t “love” more openly, and why we look at our “choice” of intimate others as expressive activity – which itself can have cumulative influence on the lives of others (not always good).
Still, there are things that have to get done for a society to sustain itself (especially expanded respect for human life, as medical opportunities increase when social and family support is possible). There are some things that will become hidden or unseen burdens on others if we don’t do our share. What these things are, will vary from one person to another, and from one period or place of history to another. I can induct principles about these matters from pressures that have been put on me in my own life.
So political discussions of equality, while necessary, do seem to skim over the deeper idea that we are should be “equally” or comparably exposed to the possibility of “sacrifice” even though not everyone will experience it to the same extend. We have to share the risk of unfairness and adversity. That’s a bigger part of the “equality” debate.
The military draft (during the Vietnam era) provides a lot of material for this discussion.