Oops! Did I just mis-type the title of this article? What I meant to call it was "More on Rights" because I write about rights a lot—and I would never suggest that people who don't agree with me about the subject are morons!
Okay, now that I've gotten that bit of sarcasm out of the way I can write a very serious article about the definition of rights. It frequently crosses my mind when I talk with liberals that what they understand rights to be is drastically different than what I understand them to be. I guess for future reference I could qualify their concept of rights with some descriptive and colorful adjective to separate it from what I mean, just for the sake of clarity. So I guess I'll call them...hmmm...okay, "moron rights." That works well enough.
I don't mind paying taxes for things like the military, police and even things such as roads as long as the money is used with expected efficiency. I can use those things and benefit from them, as does the rest of the society. The kinds of taxes I don't like paying is anything that comes from me, because it is somehow their "right" to receive my money, and spend it on something that benefits only them.
I was talking with one of my more respected liberal friends the other day and have a bit of the conversation sticking in my mind. She said she didn't mind paying taxes that go to the benefit of other people for things like healthcare and welfare and the like.
Okay. Far be it from me to tell people what they should or shouldn't mind. I've read enough about slavery in the American South to know that some people didn't mind being slaves either. The point is, I think, that whether you mind it or not, you still don't have a choice.
Anyway, their "right" to receive my money and spend it on themselves for things like food, housing and healthcare, is a leftist concept of rights which I will now separate into a different class. "Moron rights." Now I have to be clear what I'm talking about here. Food, housing and healthcare are rights, if subjected only to my choice and I pay for them myself. That's not what they are talking about though. They are talking about using my money for their food, housing and healthcare as being their right. I suppose I could call them something more politically correct like, "grossly misunderstood rights," but that doesn't exactly flow from the tongue. It's not a very good pun either.
Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence said, "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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ...."
So why is there so much contention on the simple subject of rights?
The problem for this country begins with how liberals have re-defined the words of Thomas Jefferson.
You cannot win a war in the arena of ideas if you let the enemy define the terms. The political conservatives have made the mistake of letting the leftists define the terms of the battle and have thus conceded most of the battlefield before the first shots have even been fired. It is antithetical to the objectives of war to allow such concessions to the opponent.
The socialist/liberal definition of rights are things the government provides or things you can just take from someone else without penalty because for some reason you are entitled to them. This is an incorrect definition for the context of the debate. Their "mistake" is in the phrase, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men." The reason I say "mistake" is that I in no way believe this to be a tragic misunderstanding of some sort. I believe they are doing this kind of thing on purpose to deprive people of their rights by gaining control of them.
I urge any and all who would debate on any issue regarding rights to dump this definition entirely. Do not concede it to them or grant it as a valid definition in any way.
If those of us who are small government conservatives concerned with the subject of human rights wish to win this argument, or war—if you will, we must have a very clear and concise way of describing what rights really are, and what Thomas Jefferson was talking about when he mentioned them. The context of history provides the truth.
If you are walking down the street and you stumble and fall on your face, do you have the right to get back up again?
Yes! Obviously. It is your choice and responsibility alone.
Now because getting back up and continuing on your merry way is unarguably your right, should you demand the federal government get involved and pick you up and tell you where to go? Should there be a "Federal Department of Picking People Up Who Have Fallen On Their Faces"? Should some huge portion of the national budget be set aside to fund a group of people who continuously look for people who have fallen on their faces to regulate picking them back up? Should there be fines and penalties for those who do or do not brush themselves off after picking themselves up and don't go the way the government wants them to go after picking themselves up? Do we need to fund armies of Internal Revenue Agents to make certain all picking of oneself up is done in accordance with the tax code? Do we need to have hordes of government regulators make sure and ensure that all rights to pick oneself up are protected?
There is a difference, plain and obvious, between your rights and what the government does.
Now expanding the above example suppose that someone came along while you were face down and put his foot on the middle of your back and held you there against your will. That is someone depriving you of your right to get back up. Kind of obvious isn't it?
What the government is supposed to do is keep that guy from preventing your getting back up and going on your merry way. That's it. That is the sum total of all a government is supposed to do in a free society; prevent other people from keeping you from practicing your rights.
It is an issue of security, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men," rather than an issue of big government giving your rights or deciding what they should be.
Restated, the business of government is to provide physical security to a nation so the people of that nation can be free enough to exercise their rights. Simple enough and rather obvious.
Rights at the philosophical level, as a matter of principle and requirement, are inextricably linked to your freedom of choice. Anything you have full choice of, within all physical limitations, is related to the subject of rights. Rights are your choices with regard to all available options. As important to the consideration of choice is the understanding that everything you can think to do or accomplish is a right, as long as your freedom of choice is somehow involved. That is what liberty, by definition, is.
Our rights are emphatically not limited by what is listed in the Constitution. This is the purpose of the 9th Amendment. “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Live or die? Right to life.
Move or not? Right to liberty.
Kimber? Glock? Smith & Wesson? Gun rights.
Maple Street or Cherry Lane? Housing rights.
Ford or Chevy? Transportation rights.
Bacon or sausage? Food rights.
Catholic or Protestant? Religious rights.
Speak or remain silent? Speech rights.
Public or private? Education rights.
Les Paul or Stratocaster? Guitar rights.
Zeppelin or Rush? Music rights.
Jeans or khakis? Clothing rights.
Boxers or briefs? Underwear rights.
Get up or stay in bed a bit longer? Budweiser or Miller? Blonde or brunette? Purple or Blue? Coffee or tea? Regular or decaf? Splenda or Sweet-n-Low? Rights, rights, rights, rights and rights.
All of these things are your rights because they are your decisions alone. The list of rights can only be limited by your imagination, your resources, your talents, your abilities, and the degree where your exercise of them infringes on the rights of others.
Now we come to the difficult part for many small government conservatives to separate out from the liberal definition of what rights are. "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."
Let's look at the right to life, just as an example, and establish clearly and exactly what that means.
The government cannot give life to you. For all of their attempts, and promises, they cannot take a jar of life from a thirty year old man, dump it on a ninety-five year old man on his death bed, expecting him to jump up and play a game of tennis with you. And if they could they would be violating the thirty year old man's right to life. Wouldn't they?
When you look closely at what the right to life really implies you discover that it breaks down into all of the things you need to have a life. Food. Clothing. Shelter. And yes, healthcare. Are we to assume from this that that's what Mister Jefferson was talking about in the Declaration of Independence?
The answer to this question is yes, it is.
However there is a difference between practice and provision, which the liberals in their attempts to redefine human rights into moron rights, will never mention. It is a human right for anybody to practice things that benefit their survival. It is not a human right to force someone else to provide the things that benefit your survival.
Healthcare is not insurance. Healthcare is not big government programs. Healthcare isn't even doctors, nurses, hospitals or drugs. Healthcare is the practice of your decisions you make regarding the physical condition of your body.
Nyquil or Tylenol? Vitamins? Exercise? See the doctor or not? Which doctor should you see? How much should you pay him? Do you like and agree with the medical treatment you are being given? Should you get insurance and which plan if so? These decisions are healthcare rights because they are your decisions which should properly only be subject to your considerations.
Healthcare, in the context of rights, are your own decisions as to how you are going to take care of your own body. If you need stitches, getting them could be a matter of you doing it yourself or seeking the help of someone else to do it for you. If you have a brain tumor your healthcare rights would be the decision of who you want to pay to remove it or if you want to just let it go and die. When I say I have healthcare rights it does not mean I can steal a bottle of NyQuil from my neighbor when I catch a cold. It means I can get my ass up and go to the drug store and buy a bottle of NyQuil for myself. I could also choose to buy Tylenol for Colds if I wanted. It is your decisions as to how to take care of your body and nobody has any authority to interfere or intervene in any way except in accordance with your will.
Things like insurance, government programs, doctors, nurses, hospitals or drugs, are merely options regarding the care of your body or the providers of that care.
I cringe every time I hear a conservative say that "healthcare is not a right." Hey guys! Why not just load the gun and put it against your own head and pull the trigger? Because you are never, never, never, never going to win with that argument. Why? Simple, if you take the time to think it through. In making that argument you are telling people they have no right to live, at worst case, or no right to make their own healthcare decisions, as the best case. They will instinctively—and correctly—balk at what you are saying because their nature tells them what you are saying is not correct. Every time you say this you are giving the battlefield to liberals on a silver platter because you've allowed them to define what is meant by healthcare and rights. You've adopted the definition of moron rights.
Forcing someone else to provide your healthcare is not a right any more than forcing a thirty year old man to give you a jar of his life. Making your own decisions regarding your healthcare is a right.
I've been trying to boil this subject down to an almost bumper sticker/axiomatic level that would relate to a large mass of people for quite some time now and I think I've got it, or at least something close.
The second the government tries to provide your rights you've lost them.
Think about that. When the government attempts to provide your "healthcare" it is done so according to their laws, regulations and restrictions. The money to pay for it comes from other people who then have input into your healthcare according to their whims. At that point, because of their input, they can deny or alter your ability to make your own decisions regarding the physical treatment of your body. Because your freedom of choice is subject to the will of other people it is no longer practicable as a right.
Again, rights are your own choices by nature. Anything that involves the authority or funding of other people regarding your choices are moron rights.
It is your own responsibility to take care of your life. Just as it is my responsibility to figure out how to best get rid of this cold. It's a good thing I have healthcare rights instead of moron rights.