Thursday, April 06, 2006

What Is A Right?

All sorts of special interests have hijacked the term ‘right’ in order to convey some magic meaning that simply doesn’t exist.  They insist that we have a RIGHT to healthcare (I presume they actually mean a RIGHT to government provided healthcare), they argue that we have a RIGHT to work, even a RIGHT to not be offended by anyone and everyone.  It’s almost as if by elevating something to a RIGHT proponents simultaneously label the opposition as tyrants and themselves as warriors for liberty and justice.

Obviously this is a bunch of poppycock; by defining ‘right’ so broadly it loses all possible meaning – and our rights are entirely too important to become meaningless at the hands of special interests.  

Properly defined, rights are self-evident and exist even without government and government interference.  This means, by definition, if the special interest could not achieve their ends without government interference it cannot be a right.  Let’s try some examples.

Speech (Expression) – Can you speak your mind in the absence of government?  Yep!  That means it is a legitimate right.

Healthcare (Government Provided) – This one is too easy; it says government right in the description so obviously cannot be a right.  What happens if you change the assumption to remove the government provided part?  Well, it just becomes a service that is available for purchase – you have the right to purchase healthcare from voluntary providers since that is something that you could do without government intervention, but you have no RIGHT to those services if they don’t want to sell them to you since it would take a third party (government) to force them to exchange services.

Property – The fruits of my labor are mine before government gets involved – oddly enough governments were created to protect the fruits of that labor but are the thieves more often than not.  So properly defined property is a right because without government or other coercive entities my property is always mine.

Employment – Can you force someone to employ you without government intervention?  Of course not, therefore you have no RIGHT to work.  You have the right to look for employment – to find an arrangement that is mutually beneficial for both you, as employee and employer.  However, the arrangement is (or at least should be) voluntary – when the arrangement is no longer mutually beneficial either party should be allowed to terminate the agreement.

The Founding Fathers saw government as a necessary evil whose purpose was to protect the natural rights of citizens from the powerful – how did we stray so far as to think that governments role is to subjugate those natural rights to the benefits of special interests?

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