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


Anonymous BWM said...

Keep in mind that actually, "Pursuit of Happiness" was put in over property. Although no one "invented" these ideals entirely, John Locke is generally seen as the father, and his trinity was "Life, liberty, property". Jefferson 100% backed this. However, "pursuit of happiness" sounded better in the Declaration.

I have a site that may be of interest to you. Now, before I give the link, I want to give a disclaimer; this individual is a conspriacy theorist. However, what I'm suggesting you might like has nothing to do with that; it is merely an excellent overview of exactly what is being explained in this post. So, whether or not you like conspiracy theories, don't let it deter you from an excellent analysis of individualism vs collectivism.
Simply scroll down and, in the large column on the left, you will find a series of essays. They are pdf files. Enjoy.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous BWM said...

BTW, you DO know that Jean Jacques Rousseau was perhaps the creator of the modern socialist movement, right? He argued bitterly against Locke's ideas and believed that private property was a sin; that the government HAD to take and use land as it saw fit to ensure liberty. Well, IIRC, but I thought it was odd to see a quote of him regarding a post that he would of hated.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Inquisitor said...

I used Rousseau on purpose, but his quote still applies. If you are always forced to do what is right, then how can anyone be moral?

9:32 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I think inquisiter is a principled conservative.

I think you should be careful, not to mix up actual socialism, with the nationalistic and totalitarianism of Stalinism.

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Blogger FCSuper said...

Well, on rights themselves, you are correct regarding health care. But it is the responsibility of any government to provide for the needs of its people by various means dependant upon the values of its people. Government has no other purpose. Heathcare is as basic in our modern age as sewage systems where in developed ancient countries. The more we are capable of, the more we should guarentee to our people. Just some thoughts. This is way to brief of a comment to go into my views of society/government

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