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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Doug Wilson has a wonderful post today on rights and the government's involvement therein.
There is a chasm that separates the two views of rights. In the first, grounded in a biblical worldview, rights basically consist of the right to be left alone. The only subsidy that others must pay in support of this right is to do the leaving alone. I have the right to own property, which means that others have the obligation not to steal it from me. I have the right to keep and bear arms, which means that others don't get to take my gun (as they pry it from my cold, dead fingers). I have the right to free speech, which means that others have to obligation to let me say what I believe. I have the right to a fair trial if accused of a crime, which means that others must not bring charges against me that they cannot prove in an open court. The subsidy that others (especially others in the government) pay to me in support of my rights is that of abiding by the law when it comes to me. They can honor all my rights without ever finding out that I exist. To the extent they come into contact with me, they have the obligation to obey the Golden Rule. That's it. There is no expensive enforcement mechanism, no vast budgets, no regulatory agencies, nothing. Two guys sitting on a log all afternoon can honor all the rights given by God to the other one.

But let us look at the other kind of "right," so honored and prized by officious meddlers, tyrants, and regulatory punks. If I have a right to affordable health care, then that means someone else has an obligation. (All rights bring obligations for others with them. The two concepts of rights differ in the nature of the obligations they impose.) So if I have a right to affordable health care that I cannot afford, then this means that someone else has the obligation to make up the difference. If I have a right to own a house, but I cannot afford a house, then someone else, or a consortium of someone else's, has the obligation to buy me one. Capice?

When hunting around for who that somebody who owes me a house might be, I look (not being mama's little fool) for somebody with money. Whoever has some extra money owes me a house, darn it. And knee surgery. And a better job than the one at the warehouse I used to have.
But what happens if the first view is correct, and my rights consist largely of my life and property being left unhassled by others, but the government is proceeding on the assumption that my rights actually consist of me getting my share of the free chocolate milk, as I have said before, that is owed to everyone? On the strength of that assumption, they will go in search of the funding for these rights, and they will take the funds that are necessary for me to get my milk, my house, and my surgery. But in doing this, they are stealing -- violating basic human rights, and they are doing it in the name of basic human rights.

God's Word says something about not stealing, even if you are the government. Ahab would not have had the right to take Naboth's vineyard if only he had been planning to fund Medicare with it. And God's Word does not say that I have the right to a free house, with someone else obligated to pay for it. This means that all the current talk about rights is a deceitful lie, calculated to create confusion so that the government can create a situation they desire about as much as anything -- free rein to trample on real human rights. And we must never forget that in this regard property rights are human rights.
Democrats AND many Republicans could stand to learn this lesson.


Dave Hodges said...

Hey, this is Dave Hodges here, from Rev. Wilson's blog. I'll probably just start interacting with you here on your blog since it looks like you talk about the same stuff anyway.

A lot could be said here. Long story short, I agree with this post 100%. As more stuff comes along with specific applications to economic theory, I'll chime in.

Darius said...

Welcome Dave... you'll see below my posts regarding Jay Richards' book. When I get time, I'll look more into the distributist ideas.

Steve Martin said...


Stealing is stealing, whether it's a thug with a knife, or a Congress that votes to do it.

Years and years of left wing education has insured that our own people are totally ignorant of the type of government that our founders gave us and the Constitution that was supossed tp protect us from an overbearing government.

We are in big trouble.

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The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
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