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A right is a

relative notion

Mr. Hamilton just dug himself a deeper hole trying to explain the abstract notion of “right” in connection with health care (“Health care and rights continued...” May 15). It would have been smarter for him to just write, “Look, I am a social Darwinist. Food, shelter, clothing and health care is each achieved as a result of personal effort and is realized in direct relationship to that effort. Period.”

Right is relative, so is good and bad, and beautiful and ugly, and justice and other abstract notions. Anyway, right is culturally relative.

In most countries in Europe, food, shelter, clothing, health care and education are basic rights and paid for by the government. We have the right to bear arms, while citizens of many countries do not. We eat pork, Muslims and Jews don’t. We subscribe to laissez-faire, Europe doesn’t. Who has the claim to be “right” in hundreds of controversial issues and traditions?

Many disputed issues should probably not be looked upon in terms of right, but in terms of practical. The Age of Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote that it is practical to believe in God, he called this a Practical Postulate. I would suggest to Mr. Hamilton that it would be equally practical for a country to take care of its people for political and economic reasons. He asks “who pays the price” for health care? We all do. As we pay for the education of children we do not have and the bridges we do not use and the wars we do not support. If Europe and Japan can afford universal health care, why can’t we?

JAMES BEHREND

Bainbridge Island

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