What Is a Right and How Do We Know?
By Bill Whittle
During the presidential debate Tuesday night, Barack Obama was asked if he thought health care was a “right.”
He said he thought it was a right. Well, if you accept that premise, I think you can ask some logical follow-up questions: Food is more important than health care. You die pretty quickly without food.
Do we have a “right” to food in America? What about shelter? Do we have a “right” to housing? And if we do have a right to housing, what standard of housing do we have a right to? And if it is a right, due to all Americans, wouldn’t that mean that no one should have to accept any housing, or health care, which is inferior to anyone else’s… since it’s a right? Do we have a right to be safe? Do we have a right to be comfortable? Do we have a right to wide-screen televisions? Where does this end?
See, by taking something to a ridiculous extreme, we can illuminate the problem here… what is a right? How do we know? What’s the difference between the right to free speech — which is enshrined in the Constitution — versus the “right” to health care, which is not?
Well, back in the day, we would simply say that a right has legal authority — it’s in the Constitution and therefore it’s a not just a right, it’s a birthright. So why shouldn’t we amend the Constitution to include the rights to health care, food, housing, education — all the rest? What’s the difference between the rights we have and the “rights” Obama wants to give us?
Simply this: Constitutional rights protect us from things: intimidation, illegal search and seizure, self-incrimination, and so on. The revolutionary idea of our Founding Fathers was that people had a God-given right to live as they saw fit. Our constitutional rights protect us from the power of government. But these new so-called “rights” are about the government — who the Founders saw as the enemy — giving us things: food, health care, education... And when we have a right to be given stuff that previously we had to work for, then there is no reason — none — to go and work for them. The goody bag has no bottom, except bankruptcy and ruin. Does that ring a little familiar these days? Because isn’t the danger here that if you’re offered something for nothing… you’ll take it?
Only it’s not something for nothing. “Free” health-care costs us something precious, and no less precious for being invisible. Because there’s a word for someone who has their food, housing and care provided for them… for people who owe their existence to someone else.
And that word is “slaves.”