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“The Self Owner” is an original column appearing every Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Spencer W. Morgan. Spencer is a husband and father, and has studied History and Philosophy at the University of Utah. Archived columns can be found here. OVP-only RSS feed available here.
Lately much of the political landscape, and consequently much of the dialogue among philosophical libertarians and the “libertarian” wing of the Republican party, has been focused on opposition to President Obama’s health care program. Once all of the partisan name-calling and complaints about failing websites is stripped away, there is one core argument to which Republicans keep referring that actually has some philosophical merit.
In the words of Sean Hannity on his Fox-hosted television show,
“How can government force me to buy a product that I don’t want to buy? The arrogance of this is amazing!”
Mr. Hannity is, of course, absolutely correct in his application of the principles of self-ownership and rights, to the legislative exercise in question. It is morally invalid, because it proposes to force people to buy a service against their will, even though it claims to do so for their safety and best interest. What Mr. Hannity is mistaken about, is the blindly selective approach he is taking to apply this important principle.
Isn’t the idea of Obamacare just a natural extension of the basic idea of government itself, and the same basic arguments any conservative republican would offer if you challenged the legitimacy of a government forcing all taxpayers to buy its own services? What is government, supposedly, if not a “protection” service which we are all forced to buy? How is being forced to buy an insurance company’s product for planning for my health, substantially different in principle from my being forced to buy the United States’military’s plan for protecting me from terrorists?
The spectacle of partisan politics is such that it can’t help but demonstrate the inherent hypocrisy and selective implementation of any valid argument either side might assert. If Mr. Hannity honestly believes it is wrong in principle to force someone to buy a product that they don’t wish to buy, he must reject the very core idea of government itself.