Now that I’ve explained why humans have rights and what those rights are, I figure it’s a good time to address the claims that humans have “a right” to health care, or “a right” to food, or to anything else they need to survive.
If something is a human right, then it is inherent to human individuals, not a function of whatever government you have, or where you live. I have the same rights in Ethiopia as I do in the US, though whether or not the governments of those countries respect your human rights is a different matter entirely. Whether I live in the US, Ethiopia, North Korea, China, or even on a deserted island, I am still a human with the same human rights.
You can make the claim that if someone denies you health care, then they’re violating your rights. But let’s do a thought experiment to evaluate that claim. Say you’re in a plane crash and end up on a deserted island. Suddenly you’re deprived of food, clean drinking water, and most certainly health care. Does this mean the plane crash is violating your rights? Is nature violating your rights? It sounds pretty silly, but that’s exactly what you’re saying if you think that everyone has an inherent right to be given everything they need to survive.
Now, let’s say you run into another survivor on the island. You find out this survivor just happens to have been a doctor back home. How convenient this is, since you were starting to feel a little under the weather. So now, because you have a right to health care, he is obligated to take care of you, even if it means taking time away from his own survival efforts. In fact, he probably would be better off had he not been a doctor, because then he wouldn’t be forced to act as primary care physician in the midst of a survival situation.
Conveniently, this doctor also happens to know how to fish. He could teach you how, but even if he did, you wouldn’t really have to do anything, because you have a right to food. Hence, even if you choose not to find a way to provide for yourself, he is required to give you some of the fish he catches, or he’ll be violating your rights.
So you see, if you have a right to health care, or even food, then you have a right to force others to work for your own well-being; it is within your rights to enslave others. And this same concept applies if you scale up the situation to an entire country using redistributive welfare, the only difference being that it’s much harder to rebel against this enslavement when there’s a police force and military enforcing it. Saying that humans have a “right” to health care and a “right” to food or to any other material possession violates every notion of what a “right” actually is. It violates the premise that rights are inherent to all humans, and that all humans have equal rights.
Humans do not have rights to make sure every person has everything they need to survive, regardless of the choices they make. Humans rights are there to define what it means if we believe that “all men are created equal.” Humans can only be equal if they are free from being enslaved by others. You cannot force someone to take care of you and still say that you are treating them as your equal. Thus, forced welfare redistribution is in fact a violation of the truly fundamental human right to be free from enslavement.