Rights, Privileges & Needs: Different. Not Correlated.

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It’s Election Day and my Facebook and Twitter feeds are FLOODED with people showing their “I Voted” stickers, suggestions on who to vote for and the pride they have in voting. As someone who advocates for fraternities to take a more prominent role in citizenry and a constitutionalist I am more than happy to have nothing else to read today.

There are things I’ve read; however, that rubbed me the wrong way. They are well intentioned and positive commentary, but demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of what is a right, what is a privilege and how wants and needs have no influence over what can be considered the former.

I know people disagree with this philosophy and I don’t support grey areas. I’m willing to say that I believe those who disagree with me are wrong and hope they’ll give me the credit of considering me “wrong” or “right” as well.

“There are two sides to every issue: right and wrong, but the middle is always evil”

– Ayn Rand

WHAT IS THE US GOVERNMENT

Before I begin, I’d like to focus on what the U.S. Government is and isn’t. It is a federation, which means the U.S. Government is representative of its states and territories, not individual citizens. Representation in Congress is determined by populations of states, not the nation as a whole. The electoral college is designed so that every state has at least 3 voices in Congress and 3 votes toward the election of the President.

What about U.S. Citizens? In order to be recognized as a state in our union, you must also recognize the birthrights of its citizens. The Constitution of the United States exists to define the limitations of the federal government with regard to the states as well as any government to its people. That’s a key thing to remember; it is a document of limitations on government, not ability of government.

In summary: The U.S. is a contract among 50 states to defend and advocate for one another’s right to exist. The constitution explains how each state is represented and protected in and from the federal government. The Bill of Rights and other amendments to the constitution limit the opportunity for any government (federal or state) to affect the birthrights of its citizens.

“I should deem it less inglorious to submit to foreign than domestic tyranny”

– Thomas McKean, Former Governor of PA

WHAT IS A RIGHT?

The founders had a pretty good grasp, in my opinion, on what defined a right.

A right is something freely available to or inherent in the existence of any human. The founders weren’t forward enough to consider “human” status for women, blacks or natives. That doesn’t mean that any one person can choose whether or not those people did or didn’t have the same rights, only that the government didn’t acknowledge them.

All citizens of our country have the right to say what’s on their mind, to associate with whom they please, to protect themselves from one another and their governments, to feel secure in their property, to be proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt before being labeled as such, etc. These are things no one can take away from you; they are not things we earn; they are rights.

We are privileged to live in a land where our government recognizes its limitations. The 19th Amendment didn’t give women the right to vote. It only recognized that it exists and has always existed for all of eternity, but wasn’t practiced. It is an apology on behalf of an under-representative government and a promise to ensure that such a right can never be trampled on again.

Similarly, the abolishing of slavery does not suggest that slavery was ever O.K. Rather, it is a recognition for its assault on humanity and a promise to ensure that it never exists again. It was never the government’s right to grant, only the rights of black men and women to demand.

I say all of this because what I’m seeing on social media are people thanking certain amendments for the constitution for “giving the right” to vote.

No.

It’s your right to demand, you earned it only by birth and not because some men in government decided to recognize it. Don’t be thankful for an amendment giving you a right; be thankful that your government recognizes it, if late, while others around the world are still deprived of something they’ve always had.

WHAT ISN’T A RIGHT?

Wants and needs are not rights. To put it plainly. No one person has the right to demand the efforts, abilities or property of another person. We put the kabash on that with the end to slavery.

No person can demand a house, a car, food or an education as a right, because they require the labor of others. To do so implies that others must work to meet your wants and needs regardless of their own. The only matter of determining “just compensation” is if two individuals agree that the compensation is just. I can’t walk into a Ford dealership, say that I will pay $200 for a Focus and walk away with a car. I can haggle, and if we both agree on a lower price I’ll ride out in a new whip.

The separation of rights from wants is what made America distinct from the feudal, hereditary systems of Europe.

Think about it. This was the first country in which a person could choose to do whatever they wanted regardless of what they were born into. They could risk everything an become very successful, or make poor choices, risk everything and fail. That wasn’t a choice before.

Now consider slavery. Some landowners fed, clothed and, in many cases, educated slaves in “exchange” for labor, only that exchange wasn’t voluntary. It was the landowner who determined whatever “earnings” his slaves were destined to receive, and no slave had the right to shop around for a better deal or better work. A slave’s inability to freely associate, defend themselves, secure privacy and own property is the inhumane fact of slavery. It doesn’t matter whether a slave was treated well and pampered or whipped daily, they were all at the mercy of the wants of another.

This is where things get controversial. We recognize that the quality of a person’s life, having a job, having care, having an education, having a home, etc. affects the quality of society. But would a well treated slave be considered free if he could vote, but not own any property or find a new employer? On the flip side, is a woman with a great life and padded bank account considered free if she can vote, but others tell her how much of what she makes she can keep? Even if she’s still well off with just half? My thought is no.

“The morality that teaches you to scorn a whore who gives her body indiscriminately to all men demands you surrender your [ability] to promiscuous love for all [of man’s needs]

– John Galt

AN EXAMPLE OF WANTS PASSED OFF AS RIGHTS

Amtrak is a train company specializing in passenger services. Many of Amtrak’s lines are profitable, but the company as a whole relies on $600 million of government subsidies to remain afloat. Why? There are 15 transcontinental lines that hemorrhage cash.

The company; however, won’t shut down those lines. You see, many believe that every American should have rail service. Somewhere along the line, it became a right. True it takes the work of people to build and maintain rail lines, to run the cars, to produce the energy to run the train and to man the stations. . . but remote areas of the U.S. “need” passenger rail.

We now pay for a train company to run empty cars to human-light areas of the country because train service is somehow a right. Consider that that $600 million could be used instead to manage highways and airports in those states, or to promote their state/national parks, or even put back in our pockets! At least no one is wasting cash on empty trains.

Our GDP, the entire output of our economy, is about $17 trillion dollars. We also have about $17 trillion dollars in debt. This means that we, on behalf of the wants and needs of our citizens, spent $17 trillion that had never been earned. There are $17 trillion worth of benefits, insurance, roads, student loans, green energy companies, etc. purchased with borrowed money.

Now this isn’t remotely scientific, but if our country produces $17 trillion in economic activity in a year, and has $17 trillion of debt, could you imagine that if we wanted to pay off that debt, each of us (rich included) would essentially work for $0 for an entire year? Can you live off of $0 for a whole year to pay for things we’ve already purchased!? Can you live off of half of your salary for two years? Should you or any human ever be asked to?

No person or organization gave you your rights. You’ve had them all along, earned only by existing. You voted today for two reasons:

1)You wanted to
2)You have a right as a human to choose who you’d like to follow