(L10) Human Rights

1.) Is there a “right of free speech” in the abstract, or is the question of free speech at root a matter of property rights?

Free speech, while being an essential human right, stands only on the basis of property rights. When property and human rights are separated, human rights become inconsistent and imprecise at best. They must instead, for understandings sake, be viewed as two pieces of the same thing, (rather than two different things). For example, if I were to rush into a movie theater shouting “Fire! Run! The theater is on fire!” I would get thrown out. I would not be thrown out because I was exercising my freedom of speech, but because I was on someone else’s property, and I was violating the set rules that they have on their property. I would be thrown out because I yelled (which is against the owner’s rules), not because of what I yelled.

2.) Explain the difference between positive and negative rights, using at least one example.

Negative rights are rights that simply require the absence of interference from others; for example, the rights to life, liberty, and property. More specifically, the right not to be killed, the right to not have my liberties infringed upon, and the right to not have my property stolen. Positive rights on the other hand place burdens on some people to obtain specific benefits for others. Positive rights are things that are all especially desirable, but not technically human rights; the reason for this is that positive rights may only be obtained through plunder and coercion.
Positive rights create conflict (between positive and negative rights) because, one’s negative rights will never infringe upon another’s (negative) rights. Positive rights however (in every case) will infringe upon one’s negative rights not to have their property (money) stolen. Negative rights require only self responsibility and mindfulness of others, whereas positive rights violate people’s negative rights (God given/birth rights) and incite threat-assisted theft.

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State Subsidies (L30)

Is it possible to have state subsidies without state control?

To be blunt, there is absolutely no way for state subsidies to exist without state control. The government should under no circumstances hand out money without “strings” or regulations, because this leads to the abuse of handouts. The welfare state offers one of the best explanations of this in today’s society; it is funded by the plundering of those not receiving such help, and heavily promotes dependence on the state by welfare recipients. It is not considered particularly difficult to become a recipient of government aid in the United States; the welfare state is largely abused and encourages paternalism. The government uses coercion to control the wealth of the United States by means of redistribution. Without this control, there would be no money to fund any state subsidies. Rather, a community of cooperation and charities; people with more of their own money will be more apt to help others. In today’s society one encounters money handouts in thousands of government programs; likewise, as of 2014 taxes are up 42% since last year. Although many people seem to benefit from the plundering of others, they, in reality, are just making themselves wards of the state through dependence. No man wins under state control or coercion.

“How To Argue With a Liberal…and Win!” Discussion Question (L25)

“If the state is strong enough to do something good for you, it can also do something bad to you.”

As true as this is, it is hard for some to understand why, or even how the government would do something bad to the people who so naively trust it. Maybe it is easier to consider it in this context; each action has an equal and opposite reaction. So, to a woman receiving welfare, the state is a positive thing. This is helping move her in the direction she needs and she appreciates the help; what a thoughtful government we have, looking out only for the best interest of it’s people. But, on the other hand, she is not thinking about exactly where that money came from. This recipient of government aid isn’t considering that just as she is cashing that check, or using her food stamps, a man is on the other end pulling his hair out about the devastation of taxes. The government is stealing one man’s money from his paycheck each week simply to hand it over to those who ask. On any scale, the state can only “do good” for one person when it is harming another, due to the fact that 100% of their funding has amounted from the plundering of hard working citizens.

The Morality of Work and Wealth (L25)

The morality of work and wealth is much simpler than it seems when first considered. Although there are many specific jobs that can be argued either moral or immoral by different people, I like to think I take a pretty basic, and arguably ‘fair’ stance on the subject. In the wise words of my boyfriend, “wealth in itself cannot be moral or immoral,” but I do also believe that means of obtaining such wealth can be one of the two. It cannot be immoral to be wealthy if one hasn’t done anything wrong to gain their wealth. However, if one is harming others in the process of, or for making a profit, then this would be considered immoral. Thieves, scam artists / con artists, the list goes on and on. I wouldn’t say that just because one is breaking a law (in the process of making money) that their wealth is immoral, because this would mean I believe that all laws are moral; that, however is not to say that I don’t believe any laws are moral. This being said, it is only unjust that one man has more wealth than another when he has not worked honorably to earn this wealth. If you pit a hard working middle class man, against a politician, who lives a life of luxury by the plundering of this exact hard working man, and many others like him, then it is easy to see that the politician’s wealth is immoral. My grandmother has always told me two things to live by; “honor all your contracts, don’t harm your neighbor.” Upon hearing this day in and day out as my grandmother shoveled advice out to my friends like candy, I came to the conclusion that even the most complicated of situations will really boil down to these two things. To live a moral life is to make an honest earning, be kind, and let your word be as good as gold.

Bastiat’s Concept of the Politics of Plunder (L20)

One of the most famous lines of Bastiat’s Government is “government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else,” and I think it perfectly embodies his concept of plunder. He says that this desire is the “fatal disposition,” and that the product of this desire (by means of the state) is war, oppression, slavery and monopolies. Collectively, through “naked greed and misperceived philanthropy” this is the origin of plunder. Law is supposed to increase the risk of plunder, however it has in fact only become an instrument of it [plunder]. Through taxes and the right of assistance (welfare state) the government plunders the many for the benefit of some. This, says Bastiat, is a perversion of the law.