My post on power is taking longer than expected, and I still feel like fecal matter, but I have to do something.
I’ve been asked to define the concept of “rights”.
Basically, you have the right to be left alone (liberty).
But instead of go into detail on what rights are, I’ll tell you what they’re not:
If you’re an able-bodied adult, if somebody else has to do it for you, you don’t have a right to it.
Likewise: If somebody else has to give it to you, you don’t have a right to it.
Isn’t that simple?
Of course, but it doesn’t stop there. I can already hear the caveats:
What about somebody who’s contractually obliged to provide you with something?
Did they have to sign that contract? If they signed that contract voluntarily, then they’re still engaging in fundamentally voluntary behavior.
What about the right to affordable health care?
If I say “yes”, would I not be saying that somebody else is obliged to provide you with health care at a price that some third party deems “affordable”? Yes, I would be.
What about the right to an attorney?
A bit trickier, but not really. If you have the right to be left alone, if the State’s going to violate that right, it had better be forced to jump through some hoops. This is a restriction of the State’s power, an extension of your right to self-defense, which is simply your right to be left alone with an emphasis on badassedness. The same goes for due process.
Do I have the right to a firearm?
NO!!!!! (What!? Aren’t I a conservative/libertarian?) If you don’t have a gun because you’ve been too lazy to buy one, nobody is violating your rights. If some guy has two guns and you have zero, he doesn’t have to give you one. Let’s rephrase:
Do I have the right to keep and bear arms?
YES, for this is an extension of your right to be left alone. (I use that trick on friendly audiences a lot. The phrase “have a right to” without a verb following it can be easily warped and abused. This is a good way to point that out.)
The right to Nexflix?
If you’re willing to pay what Netflix wants in return for their movies. Netflix has the right to be left alone, too. You have no right to make them give you movies.
If you pay Nexflix for their services and Netflix told you that they would let you watch their movies, then Netflix voluntarily entered into a contract with you, and you have the right to call Netflix to account.
I can think of some other caveats that are a bit more tricky, but I’d like to see which ones people bring up. If I only get a few responses, and they’re simple, I’ll handle them in the comments. If they have some sort of underlying theme or will take a lot of time to explain, I’ll address them in a post.
In the meantime, I assure you I don’t think this way because I hate people. I believe in virtue, and I believe that a society must be virtuous to survive. However, if we can force people to do things for each other, it harms both the giver and receiver.
The giver is robbed of his opportunity to be virtuous, because virture by its very nature must be voluntary.
It harms the receive because instead of feeling gratitude when others do things for him, he feels entitled. It’s the difference between “that guy works his tail off and he gave me $500 for my kids Christmas gifts even though he could have told me to get lost–he’s reaffirmed my faith in man, and I want to be able to do that for somebody else someday so I’d better get my ass in gear” and “that bastard only gave me $500 because he has to so fuck him! He’s got a big enough house. He shoulda given me more.”
An oversimplification? Perhaps.
But I don’t like it when we’re able to make other people do our bidding. That’s God’s job.