RIGHTS

All the US discussion of health care as a human right has me curious: why don’t we view various other basic necessities this way? Why don’t we have a “right” to sufficient calories and an adequate, nutritious diet? Why don’t we have a right to shelter from the snow, cold, heat? To a basic wardrobe that protects us from the elements and keeps us presentable?

Am I alone in finding it odd that we single out health care as a “right” when we blithely accept as normal the present among us of thousands of people unable to shelter, clothe, or feed themselves adequately? Of what use, after all, is medical care for those of us unable to feed ourselves or keep ourselves out of the weather?

Comments

  • Of course housing, food, etc should be rights. The current focus on health care is a matter of strategy and priority.
  • Healthcare can be taken care of out of tax, which everybody pays already. There is the possibility of increase, but it is an established burden.
    Housing is different. Nobody want the homeless in their neighbourhood and land is a commodity.
  • The Right to Housing is protected in:

    Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child
    Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
    Article 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
    Article XI (11) of the American Declaration on Rights and Duties of Man

    There are also United Nations committees (“treaty bodies”) made up of experts that oversee the implementation of particular human rights treaties. These committees oversee the treaties by, among other things, receiving government reports on the implementation of the treaties, making comments to the government reports, and issuing general comments about the treaties or specific rights contained therein.
  • Supposedly we *do* all have Rights to sufficient food and clean water.

  • I don't think anybody has any right to anything irl, but we ask our governments to give people human rights by law, eg to justice and to equal opportunities. Should we go further and ask for everyone to have a right to food, clean water, shelter, education and healthcare, if the government has sufficient funds to provide it, rather than these being provided by charitable giving? And if they do, should we ask for it to be means-tested so that it is only provided to those in need, or provide it to everybody? Does it dis-incentivise some so that they won't work for what is provided for free? Difficult questions.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    What is/are the basis/bases of rights, and who has a duty to ensure they are delivered?
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    I think medical care is the big concern because (a) so much progress has been made with it, and (b) it has become so hideously expensive. Even with health insurance, families and individuals can go bankrupt from a big-ticket issue like cancer. You may not be fed or clothed or housed in the style you would like, but there are usually relatively affordable alternatives for each. If you need heart surgery or neurosurgery or a course of chemotherapy, that's not true.

  • Wot Gramps said, all those things are rights. Sometimes Australians sit open-mouthed at the inequality, the poverty, the incredible denial of services that we hear about in the United States. Then we see a story about conditions in many Aboriginal communities and we turn away. Too hard. Too hard. Too hard.

    Or, even worse: fuckin Abos. Live like pigs. Welfare's too good for them. They just spend it sniffing petrol and drinking piss. It's their own stupid fault.

    Sorry America.
  • Sorry Indigenous Australians more like...
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Need to distinguish here:
    - moral rights which exist regardless of what any society decides
    - legal rights, which law-making bodies can grant or take away
    - the practical ability to achieve whatever one has a nominal right to
    - political aspirations.

    Saying "people have a right to housing" can mean "I wish to live in a society in which everybody has a roof over their head".

    And one can desire that end without endorsing any particular mechanism for achieving it.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited September 29
    AIUI, in the UK you do have the right to housing, but you can throw it away by becoming 'voluntarily homeless'. I imagine different people will have different opinions of the criteria that separate 'voluntarily' and 'involuntarily' homeless ...

    Thinking about it, this is different from healthcare, because - although people occasionally talk about making smokers pay for the cost of their NHS treatment - the health service does not draw a distinction between voluntarily and involuntarily ill, even if you are indeed ill due to bad decisions on your part.
  • Russ wrote: »
    Need to distinguish here:
    - moral rights which exist regardless of what any society decides
    - legal rights, which law-making bodies can grant or take away
    - the practical ability to achieve whatever one has a nominal right to
    - political aspirations.

    Saying "people have a right to housing" can mean "I wish to live in a society in which everybody has a roof over their head".

    And one can desire that end without endorsing any particular mechanism for achieving it.

    I am assuming that Gramps has correctly affirmed by dodgy memory that these rights draw upon UN conventions for their authority. I have therefore not researched the point, but boldly assert it in the hope of quashing any opposition.
  • Parking. If your city and country is anything like mine, many assume that they should have the right to park their cars for free or far below market price.

    Everyone believes in user pay for consumer services except for parking. Everyone believes that subsidies are a problem except for parking.

    Good forbid if it was ever decided to to meter driving.
  • Parking. If your city and country is anything like mine, many assume that they should have the right to park their cars for free or far below market price.

    Everyone believes in user pay for consumer services except for parking. Everyone believes that subsidies are a problem except for parking.

    Good forbid if it was ever decided to to meter driving.
    You obviously do not live in a large city. Driving is metered, it is called Fuel Duty or Gas Tax.
  • edited September 29
    How much do you pay per mile or kilometre? How do they track your vehicle's travel?

    If you're referring to government taxation on fuel, that does not fund anything substantial at all for roads and related infrastructure any where in the world. And you misunderstand that driving is subsidized very heavily.
  • How much do you pay per mile or kilometre? How do they track your vehicle's travel?

    If you're referring to government taxation on fuel, that does not fund anything substantial at all for roads and related infrastructure any where in the world. And you misunderstand that driving is subsidized very heavily.
    The subsidy varies by country, and in the US by state, but the fuel duty is meant to offset costs to build and maintain infrastructure. Why it is subsidised instead of more fully paying for itself is a mix of factors One is reticence to pay tax, which sort of goes to your point, but improving fuel economy is another large one. Fuel economy has gone up, reducing revenue, but the maintenance burden has also gone up, using more of the dwindling revenue.

    This article for Ontario states:
    Province-wide, road-network related revenues from fuel taxes, licence fees and other sources totaled more than $7.5 billion annually between 2008 and 2010 (the latest year with available data). These revenues covered between 70 and 90 per cent of annual road costs, depending on the method used to calculate infrastructure expenditures.
    Bold mine.
    Quite high, compared to other countries.

  • Parking. If your city and country is anything like mine, many assume that they should have the right to park their cars for free or far below market price.

    Everyone believes in user pay for consumer services except for parking. Everyone believes that subsidies are a problem except for parking.

    Good forbid if it was ever decided to to meter driving.

    I work parttime for the University of Idaho Transportation and Parking Services. Something I have learned is having a car is a privilege, not a right. No one has a right to park their car on campus. They have to pay for that privilege. Torques employees as much as the students.

    Oh well.
  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Need to distinguish here:
    - moral rights which exist regardless of what any society decides
    - legal rights, which law-making bodies can grant or take away
    - the practical ability to achieve whatever one has a nominal right to
    - political aspirations.

    Saying "people have a right to housing" can mean "I wish to live in a society in which everybody has a roof over their head".

    And one can desire that end without endorsing any particular mechanism for achieving it.

    I am assuming that Gramps has correctly affirmed by dodgy memory that these rights draw upon UN conventions for their authority. I have therefore not researched the point, but boldly assert it in the hope of quashing any opposition.

    The catch is that generally speaking, the Conventions are not incorporated into domestic law, with the consequence that they are not directly enforceable by domestic courts. So they are rights without enforceable remedies, which arguably stretches the concept of a legal right.

    There's obviously a basic moral imperative at work here - that societies should, within the limits of possibility, guarantee certain basic living standards for all their members - though I'm not sure that extending the legalistic language of rights is the best way of capturing this imperative.

  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    How much do you pay per mile or kilometre? How do they track your vehicle's travel?

    If you're referring to government taxation on fuel, that does not fund anything substantial at all for roads and related infrastructure any where in the world. And you misunderstand that driving is subsidized very heavily.
    The subsidy varies by country, and in the US by state, but the fuel duty is meant to offset costs to build and maintain infrastructure. Why it is subsidised instead of more fully paying for itself is a mix of factors One is reticence to pay tax, which sort of goes to your point, but improving fuel economy is another large one. Fuel economy has gone up, reducing revenue, but the maintenance burden has also gone up, using more of the dwindling revenue.

    This article for Ontario states:
    Province-wide, road-network related revenues from fuel taxes, licence fees and other sources totaled more than $7.5 billion annually between 2008 and 2010 (the latest year with available data). These revenues covered between 70 and 90 per cent of annual road costs, depending on the method used to calculate infrastructure expenditures.
    Bold mine.
    Quite high, compared to other countries.

    I live 35 hours drive from Toronto. It's notable as Canada's largest city, but not really part of my life. The Ontario boarder to the east A long way. But let's break this down a bit. Which indicates that your conclusion isn't correct.

    Here's the Ontario budget for roads for more recent years than your 2013 date: https://www.ontario.ca/page/expenditure-estimates-ministry-transportation-2018-19 . It says $1,282,284,514 spent on roads. There's another number $2,436,614,014 which includes something called "consolidated assets". Let's use the smaller number. According to your link, assuming 70 to 90% is correct, and using your lower number $384,685,354 or $128,228,451 is not funded by road users for road construction.

    Let's not use my calculations, let's use a link where someone smarter than me has calculated things: https://www.raisethehammer.org/article/1994/conference_board_study:_drivers_do_not_pay_full_cost_of_ontario_roads . It says that the shortfall is between $1.8 and $8.6 billion per year, which is more than what I tried to determine in the most friendly calculations to your point. There's a very large shortfall.

    We'd also want to make fully internal I think the pollution costs, but that's another story.
  • Marsupial wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Need to distinguish here:
    - moral rights which exist regardless of what any society decides
    - legal rights, which law-making bodies can grant or take away
    - the practical ability to achieve whatever one has a nominal right to
    - political aspirations.

    Saying "people have a right to housing" can mean "I wish to live in a society in which everybody has a roof over their head".

    And one can desire that end without endorsing any particular mechanism for achieving it.

    I am assuming that Gramps has correctly affirmed by dodgy memory that these rights draw upon UN conventions for their authority. I have therefore not researched the point, but boldly assert it in the hope of quashing any opposition.

    The catch is that generally speaking, the Conventions are not incorporated into domestic law, with the consequence that they are not directly enforceable by domestic courts. So they are rights without enforceable remedies, which arguably stretches the concept of a legal right.

    There's obviously a basic moral imperative at work here - that societies should, within the limits of possibility, guarantee certain basic living standards for all their members - though I'm not sure that extending the legalistic language of rights is the best way of capturing this imperative.

    Whilst this is obviously true, the argument for having these conventions (which I think have the status of International law) is that countries can be held to account for flouting them. There is a standard that *you signed up to* and here you are flouting them.

    I think it is also about sending a message to hard-pressed activists. That the stuff you are campaigning against and living with is not normal.

    That's either powerful or completely worthless depending on your perspective.
  • Marsupial wrote: »
    Simon Toad wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Need to distinguish here:
    - moral rights which exist regardless of what any society decides
    - legal rights, which law-making bodies can grant or take away
    - the practical ability to achieve whatever one has a nominal right to
    - political aspirations.

    Saying "people have a right to housing" can mean "I wish to live in a society in which everybody has a roof over their head".

    And one can desire that end without endorsing any particular mechanism for achieving it.

    I am assuming that Gramps has correctly affirmed by dodgy memory that these rights draw upon UN conventions for their authority. I have therefore not researched the point, but boldly assert it in the hope of quashing any opposition.

    The catch is that generally speaking, the Conventions are not incorporated into domestic law, with the consequence that they are not directly enforceable by domestic courts. So they are rights without enforceable remedies, which arguably stretches the concept of a legal right.

    There's obviously a basic moral imperative at work here - that societies should, within the limits of possibility, guarantee certain basic living standards for all their members - though I'm not sure that extending the legalistic language of rights is the best way of capturing this imperative.

    Too true, sadly, depending on the treaty and the jurisdiction though I think. I can't recall the law on the status of conventions in Oz, but ratification isn't usually a problem like it can be in the USA. I have an inkling that they are sometimes imported into our domestic law by reference, but that could easily be totally wrong.

    In any event, I think these rights, being treaty obligations, sit somewhere between moral rights (although not necessarily derived from natural law) and hard, enforceable legal rights. Maybe soft legal rights? Dunno.

    Can I clarify that in my post I did a typo, and should have used the phrase 'my dodgy memory'. I did not mean to impugn Gramps' grey matter.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I find people often see their rights as the things they have become accustomed to. So people who drive and have a car do often tend to think that is a basic right. When people discover I don’t drive, they often are amazed and tell me they simply couldn’t live without a car - as if I have some kind of charmed life where I can magically live without a car while they couldn’t. They mean of course that they’ve arranged their life so that they are dependent on their car. But of course if for any reason they were prevented from having a car, they would adapt and rearrange their life - they wouldn’t stop living for lack of a car. It might be difficult, but we don’t have a right for life not to be difficult.

    I’m never really sure what we mean by basic human rights. It seems a legal thing where a government decides what they will, in theory at least, provide for everyone, and I do see such provision as a good thing. But things could happen to prevent this happening - disasters of various types - and if the government couldn’t provide, then the rights wouldn’t exist any more.

    I suppose I see it more in terms of people not having the right to harm and deprive other people, and that we have a human obligation to help those in need, rather than people having intrinsic human rights. If one child’s country’s government decrees that people have a right to a certain level of food and shelter and another child’s country government doesn’t, and the first child is living in a nice spacious brick home with plenty of nutritious food, while the other child lives in a crowded hut with not enough to eat, this is about these children’s environment, not reflective of intrinsic human rights.
  • IRRC Social contract theory would suggest we accept social limits on our freedom in exchange for rights.

    Why should I accept I mustn’t steal or kill in your society, if your society does not provide what I need to survive ?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    IRRC Social contract theory would suggest we accept social limits on our freedom in exchange for rights.

    Why should I accept I mustn’t steal or kill in your society, if your society does not provide what I need to survive ?

    Ah, that makes sense. So the rights are given as a contract, where you also do your part, rather than being inherent, intrinsic rights that everyone automatically has.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    @NOprophet_NØprofit
    Not going through your link just to show where it is likely wrong.
    My point was that a metered system for driving exists. What it covers and what percentage it covers is a secondary issue.
    And not a simple one. For instance, a person who does not drive does not pay their fair share of infrastructure maintenance. Trains, ships and lorries (semi trucks) deliver goods that everyone uses or benefits from whether they drive or not.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    I don't drive, but the way things are structured here, I do support the infrastructure as percentage of the taxes I pay that go towards it, and I benefit from it being there. On top of this there is a fuel tax, which is paid by everyone who owns a vehicle when they top up at the pump. I don't know what happen for electric vehicles.

    Is the situation different where you live lil buddha?

    The Road User Charges* paid by companies who, for example, supply my local supermarket are passed on to me and everyone who buys goods there.

    *RUC are paid for diesel vehicles that drive on the road as opposed to those that don't, such as farm machinery, or stationary engines,
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    This is the general situation in most places I know of. The problem is that any fuel duty is increasingly lessoned every year due to increases fuel efficiency. I know of no place that has figured out how to deal with electric cars.
    Cars are a small part of the problem.They do figure into capacity design, and more lanes cost more money. Lorries are by far the largest source of the cost in that the road section must be considerably thicker, therefore considerably more expensive to build and maintain. And this is part of what must be subsidised and why pushing the entire burden on drivers is not equitable.
  • AnteaterAnteater Shipmate

    I would with some slight reservation, recommend the thoughts of Stanley Hauerwas as found in his lecture: What's wrong with rights.

    I admire Hauerwas a lot and he's a key influence on Sam Wells my current favourite thinker/preacher. However, I am not currently signed up to his thoroughgoing pacifism - it's still something I'm thinking through. And Hauerwas is no great speaker. He has a fairly thick Texas accent and is obviously reading his lecture and occasionally stumbles over some points.

    But he is always thought-provoking so give him a try.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Rossweisse wrote: »
    I think medical care is the big concern because (a) so much progress has been made with it, and (b) it has become so hideously expensive. Even with health insurance, families and individuals can go bankrupt from a big-ticket issue like cancer. You may not be fed or clothed or housed in the style you would like, but there are usually relatively affordable alternatives for each. If you need heart surgery or neurosurgery or a course of chemotherapy, that's not true.

    Exactly -- I think it's when something we all need becomes inaccessable to enough people that we realize it's a human right. Healthcare is discussed throughout the US as perhaps being a human right because it's something middle-class Americans in general know they can easily be driven out of the middle class if they don't have it.

    Here in SoCal, there are affordable and even free alternatives for food and clothing, but not for housing. When people come to the church where I work looking for help, I can point them toward food and clothing and they can be fed in a few hours and clothed within a day. If they have nowhere to live, I give them the phone number for the private agency we house that works with the homeless and I direct them to the city agency, but even the most tenacious of them can go months before they sleep indoors -- the city doesn't even have a public shelter most of the year, and the private shelters are always full. So here progressive agencies working on the housing problem do make the argument that housing is a human right.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    That's certainly true about SoCal and affordable housing. I live where it's not so great an issue. I would put it second, after medical care.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Ruth wrote: »
    So here progressive agencies working on the housing problem do make the argument that housing is a human right.

    So when a need is unmet, people perceive that as wrong, and express that sense of wrongness as a right to have that need met ?

    Whereas if everyone is getting by more or less, then the notion of rights isn't used ?

  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    As many here will remember the chief if the Evil Nestle said that water should not be a right, and that it should be in the hands of big business. That suggests that water is a right.
    My opinion on the health care system in the US is known on these pages. Health care needs paying for. Money should not be an object to heath care. Nonart of the health care system should involve companies that have share holders. The NHS in the UK is the best system I have come acRoss. Health care is a right but needs to be funded.
  • rights only arise within a political context, so yes. But once they form part of the law, there is less need for political agitation and more for enforcement.
Sign In or Register to comment.