My Quiet Life My Quiet Life

rights and entitlement

In a two-part post, Rich Hailey paints a picture of the modern liberal, with broad, sweeping strokes. Part 1, and part 2. He claims that liberal beliefs are founded on a lie. He is wrong.

I quote:

"As human beings, we have rights," the libs cry. "We have a right to this and a right to that, and it is our God-given right to demand the other thing too, (unless we're atheist, in which case we can still demand the other thing, we just don't try to determine the basis for it.)"</p>

...

Put simply, modern liberalism is based on a lie which is propped up by theft.

So what are rights? How do we distinguish between true human rights, and the parasitic privileges of a wealthy culture? In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote,

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.

Note the essentially limited nature of those rights. True rights delineate opportunities, not outcomes. Health, wealth, and happiness are not rights; the pursuit of them is. Jefferson tells us that we have the right to struggle, nothing more. Compare this with the liberal laundry list of rights, most of which define outcomes, not opportunities.

Wow – “a lie which is propped up by theft”. Harsh words! The failing in Rich’s logic is that “rights” are a social construction to begin with. We have as many or as few rights as we, as a society, decide to have. Pretty simple!

I think some analysis, also, of the quote from the Declaration of Independence is called for. “We hold these truths to be self-evident”. Ponder the first two words, “We hold”. The Bill of Rights lays the foundation for rights that were chosen at the time, by way of reasoning and logic, to be inalienable and, as the religious climate of the time dictated, God-given. The Bill of Rights is the framework for our society’s morality. It’s a floor, not a ceiling. Rich tells us to “note the essentially limited nature of those rights”. Sorry, Rich, I missed that part.

In fact, the 9th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution tells us exactly the opposite:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Short, but sweet. It’s pretty hard to interpret this as anything but what it says: a right not being listed in the Constitution does not mean that it does not exist, or cannot exist.