Thinking about Peter Lawler’s post, below, Obamacare, arguments about its constitutionality and the way Democrats think about the issue, the problem is that conservatives do not take seriously enough the old saying,  “If you have your health, you have everything.” We need to look beyond our petty political concerns to what is vital to the human condition.  Health and the general welfare of a people have to take precedence over our politics.  We conservatives talk about liberty too much.

I propose we look at the issue of national health and national healthcare in Aristotelian terms, remembering that good produces happiness.  Health is good, therefore we should all pursue it since we all have bodies.   A national healthcare system would nurture universal good health; we could all be happier.

Therefore, our statesmen must pursue the legislation of health.

Yet people try, at any rate, to state not only the treatments, but also how particular classes of people can be cured and should be treated — distinguishing the various habits of body; but while this seems useful to experienced people, to the inexperienced it is valueless. Surely, then, while collections of laws, and of constitutions also, may be serviceable to those who can study them and judge what is good or bad and what enactments suit what circumstances, those who go through such collections without a practised faculty will not have right judgement (unless it be as a spontaneous gift of nature), though they may perhaps become more intelligent in such matters.

How did I arrive at a contemplation of Ethics in relation to the national argument about Obamacare?  Through reading the words of Nancy Pelosi , that’s how.  Steve Hayward, remembering Pelosi’s “But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it . . . .” reminds us of the context.  Skilled legislators with right judgment knew they needed to ensure the means to promote the national health, since if you have your health, you have everything.  When else would the guardians of the good be able to guarantee that absolute good of good health to every American?  Leading up to her famous words, Pelosi said,
You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other.  But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket.  Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.

How our Founders missed this essential, very exciting, and natural right to health is a mystery, but I propose that we amend the Declaration to reflect our changing national understanding of what is vital to the nation.  Let’s teach it to our children this way and make them lisp this truth as part of our civic religion.  We will now speak of “Life, Health and the Pursuit of Happiness”.

We can admit then that we have found Liberty untenable.  Not everyone knows what to do with it; some people use it to the injury of their health.  God forbid.    Old truths should make room for new ones.  The question of constitutionality becomes irrelevant because changing circumstances demand — well . . . change.   What do you say?

More on: Law, Oeconomics

Articles by Kate Pitrone

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