Millionaire senator says healthcare, food and shelter are privileges, not rights

Healthcare rally in Los Angeles. More and more Americans believe healthcare is a right and that government must insure our needs—not corporate needs.
PHOTO/MOLLY ADAMS

 

A few months ago, millionaire Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a group of high school students near Milwaukee that healthcare, food, clothing and shelter are privileges, not rights.

A student asked Johnson, “Do you personally consider healthcare as a privilege or a right?” The senator replied: “I think it’s probably more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as rights is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Past that point, we have the right to freedom. Past that point everything else is a limited resource that we have to use our opportunities given to us so we can afford those things. Sen. Rand Paul talked about this on the floor of the Senate. He’s a doctor. He said the minute you consider healthcare a right, well, who’s going to satisfy that right?”

Millionaires like Sen. Johnson define food, shelter, clothing and healthcare as privileges because if these things were rights, then our society would have to guarantee that all of us had access to them. And that would threaten the whole existing economic system, because that system can’t and won’t guarantee these necessities to anyone who cannot afford to pay for them. The economic system we have now is set up to guarantee profits for billionaires and corporations, not the necessities of life (or anything else) for the people, and this is immoral. We, the people, need a cooperative society where the people control the economy and we guarantee that everyone has what they need to both survive and thrive. In the meantime, we must build a movement that demands that the government classify food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and other necessities as rights, and guarantees that all of us have them.

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