A Teachable Moment at the Dingell Romulus Town Hall Meeting

by William Bigler

I am a long-time libertarian but a fledgling protestor. I attended my very first town hall meeting Thursday night in Romulus. Representative Dingell was there to address us about the Health Care Bill. To his credit, he withstood our protests and answered a few pertinent questions—possibly from our audience. Before he spoke, there was a little lady who spoke in favor of the bill. During her remarks, she said, “I challenge any of you to look me in the eye and tell me I don’t have a right to health care!”

The room that was more than half-filled with angry, rebellious anti-HC protestors, who had been booing, guffawing, and yelling out rebuffs aplenty to pro-HC crowd members and speakers alike, were notably silent. Nobody took her up on her challenge. She was either born a little person and/or she had suffered some disfiguring disability and complained that she couldn’t get insurance due to pre-existing conditions. I don’t know what silenced us. I don’t know if we felt that it would be picking on the disabled or politically incorrect to challenge a little person. Some might have thought she was correct in her assertion. All I know is that she cowed us all including me.

Now, I am a novice at all of this. I have never been to a town hall meeting before. I tend to be a little shy around strangers and in new situations. This probably comes as a shock to Marianne and Cornelia, two of our Ann Arbor Patriots, whom I had just met a few minutes before. I bet they had me pegged as an outgoing, effusive guy which I was when I met them, but I felt connected to them because we had the AAP’s association so I felt as if I already knew them. In any event, I didn’t react as I wish I would have to the lady’s dare.

Here’s what I wish I would have done. When the lady issued her challenge, I wish I would have stood up, approached her, looked her in the eye, and said: “Here I am, Dear, eye to eye. You don’t have a right to a solid gold Cadillac, to marry Brad Pitt, or to health care. You do have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have a right to try to obtain a solid gold Cadillac, to try to marry Brad, or to try to get health care. But you don’t have a right to health care because the only way you get that kind of right is at the point of gun. You only get that kind of right by turning to that lady next to you, pointing your gun, and saying, “Give me the money for my health care or I’ll take it from you by force and, if you resist me, I’ll kill you to get it.” Now, I’m sure you would never do that, but that is exactly what you’re advocating that the government do to folks every time you say, “I have a right to health care” because those kind of rights only come at the point of a gun. We owe it to one another to be better than that. We owe each other liberty. We owe it to one another not to initiate force to achieve our ends and our government owes it to us to treat us with the same respect for our liberties that we show to one another.”

So, instead of talking about your right to health care, why don’t we talk about non-coercive ways to make our health care better? Why don’t we talk about ways to get the gov’t laws and regulations out of the way of improving our health system? Why don’t we look for ways that we can free up and expand our options and opportunities for better health. Let’s put away the heavy yoke and the pointed gun of government and see what a free market in health care could do if we ever gave it a chance.”

That’s what I wish I had done and said. I’m hoping I get a chance to redeem myself in the future. Then, maybe, when I get to the pearly gates of that great Galt’s Gulch in the sky, Ayn Rand, John Galt, Murray Rothbard, and Harry Browne will reckon that I have made up for past transgressions and will welcome me in.

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  1. #1 by Jim Babka on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 09:41

    Harry Browne would’ve thought that was good, but would’ve encouraged you to do something even harder, explain to her how getting that “right to health care” would hurt her, the ones she loved, and others.

    He would’ve encouraged you to explain to her what was possible, and in this instance, what used to be the case in America, when people were hurting… the doctors made house calls, the charitable hospitals served people in need. It is due to government involvement in health care that there are few, if any plans that cater to someone with a particular condition. They can’t because of mandated coverage, allegedly imposed out of a sense of compassion.

    And it’s always people that help. When government gets involved, it’s always much more expensive to get people to help because the politicians and bureaucrats take such a large cut off the top.

    BTW, you’re mentioned in today’s Downsizer-Dispatch. Thanks for endorsing the Read the Bills Act.

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