The Government Does Not Provide Rights

March 13, 2010
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Often in the Health Care debate, people refer to Health Care as a Right.  This is then taken further to argue that since it is a right, the government must ensure  that people have Health Care and if not, the government must provide it.  There are many other things that many people wrongly assume to be rights such as houses, food, jobs, and “living wages”. 

This view is often in opposition to the natural or human rights that are protected under the American Constitution.  The rights in the bill of rights are rights that happen simultaneously among all people.  One person exercising their rights does not take away any rights of another.

The Constituion ensures that an American’s rights to liberty and freedom can not be taken away from them by the government or other citizens.  The Constituion does not guarantee that we will all be equal, but that we are to have equal liberty and freedom.

A problem is caused when people begin to assume that the government is obligated to ensure that non-natural rights such as food, clothing, shelter, and Health Care are the responsibility of the government.  The government can not provide anything to any citizen without first confiscating something from another citizen through threat of force.  Doing so, takes away the rights of one in order to provide something that another needs or desires.

For example, exercising my right to free speech by writing this article does not infringe upon the rights of others to exercise any of their rights.  This means that if I do not have the necessary ability or tools to write this article, the government does not need to ensure that my needs or wants are met so that I can exercise this right.  Assuming so would presume that the government must provide me with a computer, Internet connection, and training so that I can exercise my right to free speech.

The government can not provide items I need or want to exercise my right to free speech as the government does not have any resources of its own.  The government would have to take something from one or many citizens in order to provide me with the necessary items to exercise my right to free speech.  Assuming so would require that the rights of any one citizen require an obligation on other citizens.

People may be morally or ethically obligated to ensure that the needs of everyone are met.  However, this does not mean that citizens should be legally required to ensure that everyone is equal outside of not having their natural rights taken away.

As noted in a posting about the nature of rights, “Reaching into one’s own pockets to assist his fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else’s pockets to do so is despicable and deserves condemnation.”

Americans need to stop looking to the government to provide wants and needs.  As President Regan once said “the government isn’t the solution to our problems, it is the problem”.

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