Inscrutable Things Those “Rights” Are

Still kind of fresh to this whole blog phenomenon–both writing and reading ’em. I mean sure, I had one of those “livejournals” since way back when, but that was entirely private and self-serving. And I never got down with reading blogs until lately.

Stumbled across a blog today that just happened to take on an issue I had started writing about weeks ago but never finished, a discussion on “rights.” Had some “interesting” things to say. I don’t know, what else am I supposed to say but that I disagreed entirely.

Statement Uno: Government is not the source of rights, God is.

I know this is what Jefferson said, but I have to wonder. Is it really my right to own a gun because God makes it so? Search your Bibles for that one. I think I’m a pretty solid and educated Christian but I am at a loss to uncover where Jesus said anything like, “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Also kind of begs the question, if rights come from God, why did He wait until 1920 to let us know women had the right to vote…? And that would make women’s suffrage not a historical event so much as a divine proclamation.

Laying sarcasm aside, the problem is that too often people stop reading the Declaration prematurely. How about, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Now this I can follow.

Statement the second: Government (ideally, he says) does not give people rights, it only protects them.

What does that then mean? No rights are given? But checking my Michigan State Constitution:

“The legislature shall maintain and support a system of free public elementary and secondary schools as defined by law. Every school district shall provide for the education of its pupils without discrimination as to religion, creed, race, color or national origin.”

I can’t see how the right to education was not given to me by government. Either education isn’t a “right,” which would seem to contradict the fact that all children are entitled to an education, or education isn’t “given” by the government, which would seem to contradict the fact that my K-12 education came from government.

Additional things that government gives us all, and provides to us: police protection, national security, FDIC, due process, prison (we’re all equally entitled to a cell), access to civil courts, a vote in elections… obviously these things are not just “protected” because unless they were given there would be nothing to protect.

Statement Three: Services and perks that the government gives to people, with particular regard to the new universal health care reform, are tyrannical socialism because *my* money is taken through taxes to grant them. (This is my favorite statement!)

Oh yes, those dastardly perks *I* have to pay for. I needn’t ask what “socialist perks” these are. Undoubtedly, health care, welfare, food stamps were all on the intended list even though they weren’t specifically listed.

I put a comment on this person’s blog, which sadly didn’t seem to go through. The question I posed was: “if your house was being robbed, and you called the police (i.e. government) to intervene on your behalf, would it not be “socialist” to expect me to contribute my taxes toward the police service you’re benefiting from?” Seems to follow, and who knows if I would’ve been corrected on this, that if the police are servicing you it would be your individual responsibility to pay for it. Cops should sent a bill after you call on them, isn’t that so?

Statement Four: Didn’t pertain to rights, per se., but rather drawn as a consequence of the “right not to be taxed.” If you could call it that. Basically, the dude said that if taxes were cut, especially for the rich, employment rates would skyrocket. Cited as an example: Ronald Reagan.

Pertinent, and worth looking at, even if I’m straying from the rights discussion, because you definitely hear this enough these days. FOX news is basically a sounding board for a return to Reagan years.

The truth of the matter is that following Reagan’s huge tax cuts in 1981 the unemployment rate did not plummet. In fact, unemployment shot up for the next two years and peaked in 1983 higher than what we’re currently facing. Reagan apologists say that the tax breaks “needed time.” But if the logic is: cut taxes for the rich and they’ll hire more people, what then were the rich doing with all that extra money, laying off their workers, for all those months?

Those tax cuts are what people remember. Ask your local conservative if they know what the letters TEFRA stand for. Betcha they don’t. But I do.

Less-simplistic and ideological economics offer better explanations and more realistic expectations. The recession probably had more to do with the Federal Reserve and irresponsible banking practices (deja vu!) The real fault of Reagan was just his naivety in pushing a tax program while the financial sector was going to shit. Well, thank God for deficit spending that got us out of that hump! Follows with the wise economic logic we practice today: if you need something just put it on your credit card.

Really no one misses the Reagan years, give us Clinton any day. Remember what he did? Cut taxes for low and middle income families, increased taxes for the rich. And did the rich lay everybody off because of it? Nope. Unemployment dropped consistently through Clinton’s presidency.

I might’ve received a public, socialist education but I did learn one good thing: math, the ability to read numbers.


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