What, Exactly, Is A Right, Anyway?

There is a lot of talk about ‘rights’, right now, particularly as they apply to health care. Some people argue that we have a right to health care. Some people say we don’t. The problem, as I see it, is that lots of people misunderstand exactly what a ‘right’ is.

So, in my own way, I’ve decided to help the discussion along by defining the word ‘right’ – as in the ‘Bill of Rights’ – not to be confused with making a ‘right’ turn or “I lean ‘right’ and my sister leans ‘left’” or “I ‘left’ it ‘right’ there…”

For the purpose of this discussion, I will define the word ‘Right’ in four parts…

1 – A ‘Right’ is something that the government cannot prohibit you from doing (something that you can do, have or say, and the government cannot tell you that you cannot do, have or say it).

2 – Conversely, while the government cannot deny you a right, it also cannot force you to exercise a right. You have a right to say “no, thank you”.

3 – The government cannot subsidize that right without taking away rights.

4 – You are solely responsible for the legal and /or proper exercise of that right.

Let’s take a look at some examples…

Let’s say you want to buy a house. The constitution gives you the right to do so, and the government cannot stop you from buying that house.

This seems easy enough, but there’s a lot of stuff implied here:

· You have the explicit right to purchase the house, but
· If you don’t have the money to buy it outright, you will have to borrow the money and take on a mortgage and
· If you don’t have the income to qualify for the loan, you won’t get the house.

Does the fact that you can’t afford to buy a house mean that your rights have been infringed upon? No, of course not. The government didn’t tell you that you could not have the house. You have the right to buy the house, you just don’t have the financial means to do so.

But let’s say that you do qualify for the loan:

· The bank that holds the mortgage is the real owner of the house until you have fulfilled your obligation (responsibility) to pay back the loan, and it has property rights, too.
· Once the loan is paid back, it’s yours free and clear – you just have to pay the taxes on it.
· If, for some reason, you find that you are no longer able or willing to make the mortgage payments on the house, you have the right to sell it in order to 1 – pay back the loan and 2 – buy another house, if that’s what you want to do.
· If you fail to sell the house and /or fail to otherwise live up to your responsibility to pay off the loan, the bank has the right to re-negotiate the loan or foreclose.
· The bank is exercising it’s right as the owner of the property.

There are lots of rights and responsibilities involved in buying a house, but notice that the government didn’t force you to buy the house, and they didn’t make your payments for you.

As another example, let’s look at the right to keep and bear arms…

As an American, you have the right to own a gun, or several guns. That doesn’t mean that you have to own a gun, it just means that you can own a gun if you so choose. And if you want to own a gun, you are going to have to pay for it yourself – the government is not going to buy you a gun or ammunition.

AND you are going to have to exercise responsibility in your gun ownership or risk loosing that right.

(If the government makes it mandatory that you own a gun and become proficient in it’s use, gun ownership ceases to be a right and becomes an obligation. That’s because the government now has the right to tell you, not only that you must have the gun, but also what to do with it.)

(And you have lost your right to not own a gun.)

So, let’s apply this to Health Care…

Do people have a right to health care and to buy health insurance?

Yes, the government cannot prohibit you from going to a doctor or purchasing health insurance.

Can the government force you to go to the doctor or have health insurance?

No. Part of the nature of a ‘right’ is that you do not have to exercise it. If you are forced to do it, it’s no longer a right – it’s an order, and you have lost your freedom of choice in the matter.

Do we have a right to free health care?

We do, if the doctor wishes to provide his or her services free of charge. Otherwise, no, we do not.

A ‘right’ is something that the government cannot pay you to exercise… Government can only pay you not to exercise a ‘right’.

When government assumes the cost of a ‘right’, it also assumes the right to make the rules and dictate how the benefits of that ‘right’ are distributed and utilized. This removes our own freedom to make our own decisions regarding the matter of the ‘right’.

Now, the government has no money of it’s own. It generates no positive cash flow by performing any of it’s many services to the public. It only has two basic sources of income:

· From it’s citizens in the form of Taxes and Fees
· Printing presses

Who pays Taxes and fees? You do – the American citizen. Every penny that the government spends comes from you, in the long run. That means that when the government buys a car, you pay for it. When the government buys a ship, you pay for it. When the government pays a congressman or a senator or a presidential appointee, you pay for it. When the government throws away a billion dollars here and a billion dollars there, that’s your money they are throwing away.

When the government borrows money, you pay it back.

And when the government goes bankrupt, you will pay for it because you will have forfeited your right not to.

Remember the old axiom, “The Golden Rule – He who has the gold, rules”.

But there is something backwards, here… If the government has no money of it’s own, and it gets all of it’s money from you and me, why are they in charge?

Why, indeed…?

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3 Responses to What, Exactly, Is A Right, Anyway?

  1. purplepapa says:

    Bill, great work! You should be teaching “Logic 101” in Washington DC. Lord knows they need it.



  2. Pingback: Obama’s regulatory chief pushes new ‘bill of rights’ « Other Right Links and Posts

  3. Pingback: Gibbs Says He Doesn’t Know if White House Has Reviewed Constitutionality of Forcing People to Buy Health Insurance « HOME – Other Right Links and Posts

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