RUSH: Cincinnati, as we go back to the phones. This is Tony. Tony, welcome, sir. Nice to have you here.
CALLER: Good afternoon, Rush. Thank you for honoring the father of modern-day conservatism, William F. Buckley today. That was a fitting tribute. I think you would agree that what Buckley brought to the debate, for those of us who followed him at Yale and at other institutions, was the distinction between polemics and sarcasm. And I think that’s what all of us conservatives today want to do, is to elevate the level of discourse out of polemics and into true debate.
RUSH: I’d love to, but it’s not up to me. The polemics are coming at us from the left.
CALLER: They are and we just have to grin and bear it. What I want to discuss with you today, Rush, is your position on health care and whether or not it is a right. And I would like, in that spirit of dialogue rather than polemics, as a fellow conservative I would like to argue with you that if we conservatives dig in and argue that health care is not a right at some basic level, we’ll probably lose. On the other hand, the real term that is missing from the current debate is the word ‘two tier.’ Now, Rush, you probably drive a nice car, so do I. But not everyone can afford to do so. But everyone does deserve some form of transportation.
RUSH: No. No. No. They don’t deserve it. That’s something that has to be earned.
CALLER: Well, it is earned —
RUSH: And paid for.
CALLER: But, Rush, the fact is that the other side —
RUSH: If they deserve transportation, we may as well start giving everybody a car like we’re going to give them health care.
CALLER: Ah, we do give them public transportation. They pay something for it.
RUSH: Yeah. Outside of New York, nobody wants it.
CALLER: Well, that may be true. Let me give you an example. I’m a surgeon. I travel outside the United States several times a year to teach surgical procedures. I just came back from a relatively affluent Asian country. And while I’m in the operating room about to operate on a patient there, the doctor there does something that I cannot do in this country. He looked at the patient and said, ‘We have this other procedure I think would be beneficial to you. However, it’s not covered under our national health insurance. Part of the procedure is, but would you like to pay the extra costs of what I think would be good for you?’ Rush, most of the rest of the developed world can have their doctors offer that to the patient as an option, but we can’t in this country because we have the misguided notion that one size must fit all.
RUSH: Well, wait a second. What did the patient say?
CALLER: The patient said, yes, of course.
RUSH: Did the patient have the money to pay for it?
CALLER: The patient was a laborer, and this was probably a rather expensive proposition for him. But my point is that the dialogue was allowed to take place because the system was two tiered. In other words, if you want to spend the money for a better car, for a better house, whatever, that is —
RUSH: I can’t believe what I’m hearing. We’ve already lost this debate in this country. If you had your average laborer, somebody equivalent with this Asian that you ran into, you bring ’em in a hospital and they’ve got surgery going, the doctor says, ‘By the way, for an additional $500 I can do what you really need.’ ‘What do you mean, who’s paying the 500?’ ‘Well, you would.’ ‘No.’ They would refuse because we’ve already lost the argument. The patient thinks somebody else should pay for everything they want. We already do have two tier. You talked about my car. I have health insurance with somebody, I don’t even know who. Whenever I have to go to the hospital or doctor, I pay for it out of my pocket. I don’t even mess with insurance and the forms and all this kind of stuff because I have the ability to.
CALLER: Rush, when you had your cochlear implant, if that was not covered by your insurance policy, you had the option to go around the system and pay cash for that, and perhaps you did. But if you were middle class or even upper middle class, and they said, ‘We’re sorry, that doesn’t cover,’ you have to either go completely out of the system or we’ll only pay a portion, that’s the problem. The problem is that there isn’t some basic level of care for everyone to which you can add à la carte.
RUSH: Well, you know what I think is happening here with your argument, I know exactly what you’re trying to say, but my philosophy on all this is that we have accepted too many premises of the left in all of these social problems that we have and we want to massage their basic solution just enough that we can call it ours. And we might want to throw in, as you are doing, a little touch of capitalism or free market to it, but it basically is going to stay a socialized system. Going back to your business about health care is not a right. No less than Mr. Buckley said that to me. He has said it to a number of people, ‘Health care isn’t a right, it is a privilege.’ Now, what are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to sacrifice language, are we supposed to give up on definite concepts in order win votes and win elections? It’s like I had a column from the American Spectator the other day from a guy that lives in Nebraska, very big on ethanol. We’re not supposed to criticize ethanol. We’re not supposed to criticize this stuff because we’ll not get votes. So we’re supposed to go along with something that doesn’t work, is more expensive.
We just had a story yesterday that if these ethanol tankers driving around happen to have an accident and they blow up, the foam to put out an ethanol fire is 30% more expensive than the foam required to put out a gasoline fire and communities are having to ramp up for this. The cost of corn is going through the roof. The cost of wheat’s going up. A bagel on Long Island a year ago that was 60 cents is now a buck, all of this because of a hoax. And yet to keep the farm vote we’re supposed to not criticize something that doesn’t work. A friend of mine in a state on the East Coast sent me a note. This is yesterday: ‘I heard a rather liberal GOP political consultant here in Raleigh say today that health care is too complicated to be a deciding issue in the elections; it can’t be summarized in 30 seconds, it’s just too hard.’ So we’re not even supposed to talk about it, don’t even go there. Liberal Republican consultants, don’t even talk about health care, it’s a losing issue, just as you are saying, Tony. I don’t accept that it’s a losing issue, and I don’t accept that we have to accept things about it, like it’s a right or it is too complicated.
In less than 30 seconds, I can explain health care in a nutshell. No employer, no insurance company, no politician or government bureaucrat knows better than you about your family’s health needs. You should have the right to purchase health care and health insurance as you see fit without governmental restrictions or penalties, and you should not be of the mind that your neighbors have to buy it for you. Less than 30 seconds I’ve just explained the concept of fixing health care. It is not complicated. It is very simple. We get liberalism out of it; we get socialism out of it; we disabuse people of the notion that liberals have impressed them with that it is a right. I’m starting to hear a lot of this, ‘We can’t say that we’re going to lose the election. We can’t say that. We can’t say his middle name. We can’t call him a liberal. We can’t be critical of health care as a right.’ Pretty soon our own people are going to succeed in shutting enough of us up that liberalism is going to win without having to say a damn thing.
RUSH: All right. I know this is probably going to confound some of you who think, or wish, ‘Just drop this,’ or maybe you hope that I will just drop this and stop being provocative on this health care stuff because you think it’s a losing issue. It’s not who I am. I am hell-bent on as many people as possible understanding the truth, the greatness of this country, how it works and how it is going to be sustained. Health care is not a right, it is a privilege. It’s a choice. However, the accumulation of wealth, the accumulation of wealth is a right. That is, you have a right to freely earn an income and dispose of it as you wish: purchase food, purchase shelter, if you want to purchase health care, whatever else. And that right comes from God as enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. You know how it goes. You know the drill, the pursuit of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. The right to accumulate wealth exists for all of us, but health care is an expenditure, therefore it is not a right. Besides that, folks, we have Medicaid for the poor. We have the S-CHIP program for poor children and, if the Democrats get their way, children up to 25 who come from wealthy families. We have Medicare for seasoned citizens.
What we also have in this country are some people who don’t want to use their own assets to pay for their own health care. They want someone else to do it. And that brings in a very happy and compliant Democrat Party. It is a matter of individual priorities. Let me say it to you as Mr. Buckley might have said it. Moral obligations, should one choose to assume moral obligations, are actually higher on the list of things than rights. That’s why we set up systems to take care of the indigent, because we are a moral people. It is why we have Medicare; it is why we have Medicaid; it is why we have S-CHIP. At least it’s why we started them. It’s why good people support them. We can get into an argument here of whether these programs are more of the same liberal drivel to create as many dependents as possible, but I think we are a compassionate country, and we are a country that understands our moral obligations to people who can’t provide for themselves because of certain things, and those people nobody will argue with, being taken care of and helped. That is precisely why we set up systems to take care of the indigent. It is why we take care of our neighbors. It is why we have our churches engage in the various community actions that they do and, not to mention, there’s all kinds of other community organizations that exist for the express purpose of bringing things to poor, indigent people that they don’t have and can’t have on their own.
This is a country of high moral obligation, and we meet those moral obligations at all times. That is why, because we have such a moral obligation, and because we are such a compassionate people, and because we are such a generous people, this is why we try to lower costs and increase competition so that more people can be taken care of well, so that people are not left to fall through the cracks. Now, this doesn’t mean that any of this is a right. It is our moral obligation as a society that has us take care of people who otherwise could not afford this. But what has happened is that people who very well could afford it, just as they could afford a plasma TV or a car or what have you, can afford health care and choose not to, they choose in fact for others, their neighbors, fellow citizens, to pay for it, precisely because they have been led to believe that it is their right to have health care. And I would submit to you that the whole notion of having your neighbor pay for what your responsibilities are can be very addictive, once it starts. In a real sense, rights are universal and cannot be created once we have enough wealth to have some people want something else. Rights are the lowest claim and therefore command universal respect.
We have to bring back the meaning of words. Privileges and moral obligations are higher than basic human rights, not dragged around by them. That is something that Mr. Buckley would say to you. Privileges and more obligations are higher than basic human rights. They’re not dragged around by them. Human rights do not dictate moral obligations; it’s just the exact opposite. Moral obligations manifest themselves in the form of human rights, and so when our moral obligations and our morality is being torn down and the whole concept of doing things for the right reason becomes doing things for the wrong reason, and when people opt out of their own personal responsibility to acquire that which they want with their own assets and shove that on all the rest of us, then we’re in trouble, and that’s where we are in health care, precisely because we have allowed enough people to believe that health care is their right, not their responsibility.
If this is something I shouldn’t discuss because it’s only going to inflame people and make them hate Republicans and think that we’re cold-hearted and cruel, so be it. I’ll be glad to talk to any of them and explain how the real compassion, the real big-heartedness exists on our side using the very same argument about moral obligations and the evidence of how we do in this country, without complaint, take care of those who cannot help themselves, and we are eager to do it, because we are a compassionate people. But we also know that no one, no society can sustain itself if everybody in the society is depending on everybody else to pay what they want, or buy what they want. So we’re not supposed to use Obama’s middle name; we’re not supposed to call him a liberal; we are not supposed to talk about health care in the campaign, according to Republican consultants, it’s too complicated, and we’re not supposed to say that health care is not a right. Pretty soon, as I say, we’re not going to be able to say anything, and we won’t have to, and the Democrats won’t have to, either, because we will have effectively shut ourselves up.