Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Right to Take

In America, we are very concerned with rights. The first 10 Amendments to the US Constitution are called the Bill of Rights, and represent an enumerated list of some of our rights, perhaps those many consider to be the most important. But what, exactly, is a right?

According to Merriam-Webster Online, a right is: the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled.

Some rights we recognize for individuals are a right to speak freely, of conscience, of association, and a fair trial. These concepts are embodied in the beginning of the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

In some of the writings concerning these rights "the Pursuit of Happiness" is replaced with property. This is an important addition and will be discussed later.

I would submit that the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and of the recognition of rights in general only applies to a right to keep and not a right to take. Allow me to explain what this means.

I have a right to life. This means that I have the right to keep my life and my health. Now one is allowed to take them from me. I have a right to certain liberties, such as freedom of conscience and freedom of association. I can keep whatever thought I chose and can keep whatever company I want. If I have a right to property, then I am free to keep what belongs to me.

Now let's look at two of the other "rights" that have been invented in the last few decades and how they fare according to my paradigm.

The right to health care: While the right to life guarantees that no one may take your health from you, this doesn't mean that others must provide it to you. This right is a right to take. If you have a right to health care, then you have a right to take the services of hospitals, doctors, and nurses. You have a right to take money from others to pay for you health care. This right is obviously flawed and simply violates the rights of others to keep what is their.

The right to employment: To whom does a job belong? To the prospective employee? To the government? Like any other property, a position of employment belongs to the employer. They have the exclusive right to decide who gets the job, by what criteria, and under what restrictions. This means that an employer can discriminate if they so choose. If a racist employer refuses to hire a well-qualified black man, that is his right. The prospective employee has no right to take this position. Because it belongs to the employer, he can give it to whom he chooses. If government interferes and forces the employer to give this man the job, then the employer has been robbed and his right to his property has been lost.

Now lets return to subject of property. A right to property without the right to keep it is meaningless. The rampant entitlement programs that have been instituted in the US since the 1920s are completely at odds with our rights to property. The concept of a government-funded social program is nothing more than mandatory charity. It compels us, under threat of the government, to give up what belongs to us. It is a right to take. A right which does not and cannot exist.

As a good citizen, I am morally bound to help my fellow Americans. But they have no comparable right to take from me. Forced charity is only well-intentioned tyranny.

My rights extend only to keep what I have now: me life, my health, my liberty, and my property. It does not allow me to take that which belongs to others. Such is the path that leads to socialism.

"To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For he who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man's nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts." -Jean Jacques Rousseau

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Godless Heathen

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a godless heathen.

Several months back I came across some of the writings or Thomas Paine, one of which was Age of Reason. It opened my eyes! I was raised Baptist and had just taken for granted all that I had been taught about religion in my formative years. Once I was older, I wasn't a very religious person, but it never occurred to me to question my beliefs.

Then suddenly I realized I just couldn't buy it anymore. Like an eight-year-old who can no longer believe in Santa Clause, I had passed a point of no return.

At first, I told my wife I was a Deist. I believed that there was a god, but he just didn't have a lot to do with us. He was a universe-maker, and that was about it. Then I realized that even that didn't go far enough. My Deism was just an attempt to hold on to some of my old beliefs. I then started calling myself an agnostic, which was just another way of saying, "I just don't know!"

Now I call myself an Atheist. There are no gods that I believe in. There may be a god, but I do not know him and see no evidence of his existence. If I am wrong, then I would want to know it, but such an extraordinary claim as the existence of god would require extraordinary evidence to make me believe.

If someone reading this also has doubts, then start asking questions. If your beliefs are correct, then they should stand up to honest inquiry. If they don't, then do you really want to keep them?

I recommend Losing My Religion as a great place to start. If you want to dig even deeper, then go to Ebon Musings Atheism Pages for a treasure trove of articles.

If you are heading towards deconversion, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.

"Belief is not a voluntary thing. A man believes or disbelieves in spite of himself. They tell us that to believe is the safe way; but I say, the safe way is to be honest." -Robert Ingersoll

Humble Beginnings

Hello and welcome to my blog. As a very opinionated person, I've been wanting to start a blog for some time, but have only just now got around to it.

You may be wondering just where the name of my blog comes from. Well, those who know me regard me as good source for useless facts. With this in mind, my wife one day called me a "Worthless Well of Knowledge." What she meant was a well of worthless knowledge, but her misstatement seemed like the perfect name for a blog.

I intend to write about anything that interests me, and that encompasses just about everything. I love politics, science, history, current events, and anything and everything that might make me laugh.

I love to be right and I hate to be wrong, so much of the material here will deal with the pursuit of truth. I am always asking questions and want to know everything.

If you are reading this post or any others, feel free to agree with me or not, but I hope that something I will have said will make you think. And if you have something to say, then say it. Maybe it will make me think as well.

I don't honestly know if anyone will read a word I have to say, but I do know that I will feel better for having said it.

"Knowledge is power." -Sir Francis Bacon