Here's a letter he wrote to The Boston Globe on your "right" to the services of doctors and nurses and pharmaceutical companies and hospitals....
Ronald Pies, MD, asserts that every individual has a “right” to “basic health care” – meaning, a right to receive such care without paying for it (Letters, Dec. 26).Here's one written to the L.A. Times, on jury nullification in relation to the marijuana wars:
The rights that Americans wisely cherish as being essential for a free society require only the refraining from action. Your right to speak freely requires me simply not to stop you from speaking; it does not require me to supply your megaphone.
Not so with a “right” to “basic health care.” Elevating free access to a scarce good into a “right” imposes on strangers all manner of ill-defined positive obligations – obligations that necessarily violate other, proper rights. For example, perhaps my “right” to basic health care means that I can force Dr. Pies away from his worship service in order that he attend (free of charge!) to my ruptured spleen. Or perhaps it means that I have the “right” to pay for my health care by confiscating part of his income. If so, how much of his income does my “right” entitle me to confiscate? Who knows?
And if Dr. Pies is planning to retire, do I have the “right” to force him to continue to work so that the supply of basic health care doesn’t shrink? If Dr. Pies should die, am I entitled – again, to keep the supply of basic health care from shrinking – to force his children to study and practice medicine?
Does my right to basic health care imply that I can force my neighbor to pay for my cross-country skiing vacation on grounds that keeping fit is part of basic health care?
Talking about “rights” to scarce goods and services sounds right only to persons who are economically illiterate, politically naive, and suffering the juvenile delusion that reality is optional.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Reporting on the increasing number of jurors who refuse to return guilty verdicts against defendants charged with possessing marijuana, you quote a government prosecutor who tells jurors “We’re not here to debate the laws. We’re here to decide whether or not somebody broke the law” (“Juries are giving pot defendants a pass,” Dec. 25).And finally, here's an open letter/bitchslap to the president of the Sodexo Foundation:
This prosecutor is mistaken to assume that the law is simply that which the state declares it to be. A great advantage of trial by jury – an advantage applauded by the likes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison – is to enable the community’s evolved sense of law and justice to moderate, or even to nullify, government’s criminal statutes. As Edward Gibbon observed, “Whenever the offense inspires less horror than the punishment, the rigor of penal law is obliged to give way to the common feelings of mankind.”
Fortunately, more and more people understand that punishing a peaceful person simply for smoking pot is horrible.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Mr. Stephen J. Brady, President
Dear Mr. Brady:
Your foundation’s website says that “Forty-nine million people in the United States are at risk of hunger.” While this statement’s meaning is vague, I assume that you intend to suggest that 49 million people in America are so poor that they are at serious risk of suffering malnutrition.Why does Dr. Boudreaux go to the trouble of writing all of these letters? Why should he bother? He has tenure. He's got it made.
Yet today’s New York Times reports on a recent poll by the Pew Research Center that finds that the number of Americans who consider themselves to be middle-class is nine in ten (“So You Think You’re Middle Class?” Dec. 23). That’s 277 million (out of a total of 308 million) Americans who don’t think of themselves as being poor. Even if we assume that every one of the 31 million other Americans thinks of himself or herself as being, not rich, but poor – and even if we further assume that every last one of those 31 million people is “at risk of hunger” – your figure of 49 million ‘at-risk-of-hunger’ Americans seems impossible to square with the Pew survey results.
Are there really 18 million people in America who are so unaware of their own circumstances that, even though you classify them as being “at risk of hunger,” they classify themselves, not as poor, but as middle-class? Seems dubious, to say the least.
While I applaud your efforts to extend a helping hand to needy Americans, you should do so honestly. In fact, hunger is not a problem in America – not for 49 million people; not even for 31 million people. In fact, no modern American this side of mental insanity or criminal captivity comes close to starving to death.
Our society’s elimination of one of history’s most consistent killers – starvation and malnutrition from too little food – is complete. This victory should be celebrated rather than obscured by claims, such as that which adorns your website, that are somewhere between inexcusably obscure and blatantly false.
Donald J. Boudreaux
He probably does it because he knows that we have a great system, and he doesn't want Messiahs, Nannies, Busybodies, Saviors, Prohibitionists and other pests to start jacking around with it.
He knows the cause of health, wealth, and having time to enjoy them.
Is Free Market Capitalism perfect? No.
But Utopia is not an option. Never has been, never will be.
Teachers and writers like Don Boudreaux, Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek have done more for the good of humanity than all the government programs that have ever burdened the world.