Thomas Jefferson referred to himself as an Epicurean and an admirer of the hedonic philosophy that Epicurus promoted. The ‘law’ of reciprocity that comes from that meshes well with the quote in today’s sign.
The right to health is a hot topic in today’s political arena, and frothy with boiling questions and claims. Does a claimed right to avoid measles shots trump a right to avoid exposure from undetected carriers carelessly mingling in public places? If someone learns whose child exposed her dead child to the disease that killed him, can she sue that person? Are doctors who advocate against protective practices holding a door open for malpractice lawsuits?
Another area of health-related concerns boils around Obamacare. Hate-speech rings out on both sides of the aisle on the few days congress goes to work from their vacations. (We should not complain; what if they spent every day making a mess of things?) Boiling questions and frothy, hateful claims spring from this issue like geysers to wet the spirit of America.
Jefferson, a “Democratic-Republican”, made it clear that he preferred a small central government that did not involve itself in the citizens’ private affairs beyond what harm we might do to each other. In the light of that, consider some questions and their related claims. As a person interested in perpetuating and maximizing individual freedoms, would Jefferson have supported forcing children to attend schools in their youth? Would he have supported Social Security? Which would he choose in today’s America: Would he have supported either Workmen’s Comp, paying for mass graves to bury those who had starved to death, or leaving their bodies to rot on city sidewalks? Would he have supported forcing people to buy insurance (or post a bond) in order to drive their car on the road?
In one way or another, every question on this page has public health relevance. In times of hardship, even the largest charities get overwhelmed and run out of funds, food and room. Some people seem to think that Jefferson and his associates were too primitive to have relevance in today’s world. Maybe they were, but their ideas on record remain valid as ever. Unhealthy people remain forever enslaved to their diseases. What about those whose lifestyle choices, made during times when they ought to have known better, led or contributed heavily to their illness? Should they be refused public aid? The cocky youth who refuses insurance today becomes the diseased slave of tomorrow. Will it be fair of him to expect support from what he had never paid into? The ‘law’ of reciprocity fully applies right here. What would Jefferson decide?