Isn’t it a bit like saying — and here I’m borrowing from something Tom Palmer wrote for National Review a few years back — that we owe everything we have to farmers, since we wouldn’t be able to earn anything without the food they produce, and therefore they have an unlimited right to demand money from us? Come to think of it, that is a rough description of the attitudes of most members of the Agriculture Committees.
Update: A colleague tracked down the review I had in mind, which ran in our Dec. 13, 2004, issue and concerned a book by Cass Sunstein making the same argument. Palmer writes, “Let’s see what else this theory would entail: If a doctor were to save my life, then, since the doctor would be responsible for my existence, and therefore for all of the liberty and wealth that I might enjoy or create henceforth, the doctor would have the right to decide what should happen with that liberty and that wealth, since without the doctor neither I, nor the liberty, nor the wealth would exist. In short, Sunstein’s ethical theory is just silly.”