The Right to Take
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