Rights. Our Declaration of Independence claims that men are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution lists a handful of rights as well. The first amendment guarantees citizens the right to free speech and freedom of the press, along with freedom to assemble and worship whatever religion they would like. These are true rights, but today more and more things are being called “rights”. I call them arbitrary rights.
One of the hot button issues of the day is the so-called right to birth control as well as the right to an abortion, otherwise known as “women’s rights”. The first thing about a true right is that it is not a material item. If it were, then anyone could claim anything is a “right” and demand that the government provide it for them. “Its my right to own a Ferrari! Give me my Ferrari!” Birth control is no different. People don’t have a right to things, they have a right to buy them. Having a right to something means that someone else has an obligation to provide it for you, which is utter nonsense.
The 2nd amendment guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear arms. This does not mean, however, that the government, or more clearly – the taxpayer – has an obligation to provide every citizen with a firearm. It also does not mean that every citizen can be forced to buy a firearm, the way Obamacare forces citizens to buy health insurance. Women have a right to buy birth control, but that does not mean that someone else has the obligation to pay for it. No one is saying that women shouldn’t be allowed to buy whatever birth control they want. What we’re saying is that women can provide it for themselves and not depend on government handouts.
Abortion is a little stickier of an issue, because along with claiming one person has a “right” to an abortion, another person is losing their most valuable right – the right to life. The right to life is given to everyone, no matter what country they live in or what time they lived. The right is given by God, not government. Taking someone’s life, whether they are still inside their mother or not, is wrong. Therefore, a person cannot have the “right” to take away someone else’s right.
Again, though, we need to realize that even if we deem abortion as morally acceptable and say that an unborn child has no rights, that does not mean that abortion is automatically a right. A woman has the right to go to her doctor and pay him to have an abortion performed, but she does not have the right to demand that her fellow citizens pay for it. Abortion is such a divisive issue that one could say taking one person’s tax dollars and using it in a way that they see as morally reprehensible is an infringement on their freedom of speech. One man’s labor should not be confiscated and given to someone else to provide them with arbitrary rights.
Among the most popular new “rights” that have been created out of thin air is the “right to healthcare”. People need to realize that healthcare is like any other arbitrary right. Healthcare is a product. People have the right to buy this product with their own money, but they do not have the right to demand that someone else provide it for them. Healthcare is often seen as some kind of special commodity, as if it weren’t a scarce resource whose prices respond to supply and demand the way everything else does. Healthcare is a product, plain and simple, and the “right” to it is an arbitrary right.
Some may argue that healthcare IS a right because without it our right to life would be infringed; therefore everyone must be provided with healthcare, one way or another. Taken another way, we could say that without food people’s lives would be at stake, therefore everyone has the right to food. This is not the case. Food is not a right. No one has the obligation to provide a meal to anyone else. It is not anyone’s responsibility to give other people what it takes to live. Healthcare is no different. If anyone wants it, they can get it for themselves. Its not the government’s (taxpayer’s) responsibility to provide it.
The way humans measure their time and labor is in money. No one has unlimited labor, and therefore everyone has a right to earn what they can and keep it. We have taxes to provide for a government that secures rights given to us by God. The government is here to protect us from people who may want to take our lives and liberty. But government is not here to “give” us any object that our heart desires, whether it be birth control pills or “universal” healthcare. The only way government could do such things is by confiscating our labor, which is our lifeblood. At a certain point, a government who just takes people’s labor turns citizens into subjects. The power of the individual is suffocated and citizens are transformed into tools of the state.