Two incompatible conceptions of “rights”

Conservatives, and particularly Tea Party conservatives, seldom get more fired up than when some mass shooting attracts President Obama and his gun control agenda onto national television.

They may not be the most versatile protectors of individual rights, but when it comes to the right to bear arms conservatives are relentless  and courageous.

And here is a fundamental distinction between those on the political left and those on the right. What exactly are “rights”?

Understand what conservatives are not saying when they trumpet their “right to bear arms.” They are not standing outside of congress picketing until legislation is passed forcing taxpayers to fund universal gun ownership. To them, a right to bear arms does not mean everybody gets a taxpayer funded gun courtesy of the federal government. They are simply exerting the belief that individuals ought to be morally entitled to pursuing their own peaceful transactions.

But on the left we hear all sorts of hysterical cries for rights, and it’s a much different conception of “rights” than when conservatives speak about guns. Most prominent is the belief that people have a “right” to health insurance. In other words, taxpayer funded health insurance. But just as nobody–just by the fact of their existence–has a right to a gun, so nobody–just by the fact of their existence–simply has a right to health insurance.

If you disagree with the latter, then you must understand that conservatives could properly use the same logic to demand congress passes legislation forcing taxpayers to pay for everybody to own a gun.

Those on the left need to understand fundamentally what a “right” is. If a transaction is based–not on mutual consent, but on force, i.e. taxation, then we can confidently induce that somebody else’s rights are being violated into funding that transaction.

It’s just not possible to be an advocate for “rights” when all of your strategies can only be funded by violating the rights of innocent taxpayers.


One thought on “Two incompatible conceptions of “rights”

  1. Ron_H. February 16, 2016 / 1:02 am

    That’s right. a positive right can’t exist, because it requires violating someone else’s negative rights by placing them in service of another person against their will. Not only is it immoral, but the 13th Amendment forbids it.


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