(Foreword by Newland) From time to time I have mentioned that I admire Larken Rose's ability to distill his disdain for inane philosophy into common-sense arguments. Here's an example of it (and I apologize for the length, but this is so good....).
Most people don't think in distinct, specific concepts. They "think" (if it can be called that) in vague blobs of mush. They can't follow simple trains of logic, and have a complete lack of what I call "clarity of thought." For example, my wife just showed me an online poll, asking people whether they thought "health care" should be considered a "basic human right." What a fine example of meaningless mush.
Most people answered "yes," no doubt feeling very compassionate for having done so. Trouble is, none of those "compassionate" people have any idea what a "human right" is. They haven't bothered to THINK about it, because merely FEELING good is enough for them. Had they THOUGHT about it, they might have realized how stupid the question is.
What most people probably interpreted the question to mean is something like this: "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone got the health care they needed?" Well, duh, of course it would. But that wasn't the question. The question is whether the thing called "health care" is a basic "human right"--whatever that is. The implication is that if someone doesn't get the healthcare they need, someone's "rights" are being violated.
Let's consider the following question: Are Snickers (the candy bar) a basic human right? If so, everyone who lived prior to 1930 (when Snickers came into being) must have had their human rights violated. Poor them. Furthermore, it would also mean that every time someone craves a Snickers, but doesn't get one, his "human rights" are also apparently being violated. (By whom, I'm not really sure; the Snickers-makers, I guess.)
Think that example is silly? Yes, it is, but no more silly than asking if healthcare is a "basic human right." If you hit a deer with your car, out on a country road at night, and careen into a ditch, there's a good chance that you'll be wanting some health care. So WHO, exactly, would be violating your "basic human right" to such health care when you don't get any? (Try suing the deer.) And who has an obligation to supply you with the alleged "basic human right" of healthcare, when no one even knows you're in need of any?
Sorry for stating the bleeding obvious, but you can't violate someone's "rights" unless you DO something to them. If you torture them, rob them, assault them, or murder them, you may very well be violating their "rights." In other words, a "right" is a purely NEGATIVE concept: something that should NOT be forcibly interfered with by anyone else. "Rights" aren't a bunch of goodies that someone has to provide for you; they're the things that no one should STOP you from doing yourself. For example:
1) If you have a right to "freedom of religion," it means only that no one should forcibly prevent you from practicing the religion of your choice, or force you to practice a religion you don't want to. It does NOT mean that anyone has to make you a church, or listen to you pray, or pray with you.
2) If you have a right to "freedom of speech," it means only that no one should forcibly stop you from speaking your mind. It doesn't mean anyone has to give you a stage, a microphone, or an audience.
3) If you have a right to be free from unreasonable searches, or from being forced to testify against yourself, or from being imprisoned without a trial, or from being tortured--and the list could go on for ages--all it means is that no one should use force to STOP you from exercising your individual liberty.
So what would it even MEAN to say that "health care" is a "basic human right"? It means nothing, and makes no sense. A "right" cannot be something positive; it cannot be some THING that someone else should be FORCED to give you, like a house, or a job, or health care. To have such a "right" would require that someone else be FORCED to serve you. Unless you think you have the right to enslave others, you can't possibly have the "right" to any service or any product. You have the right to be left alone, and that's all. ALL true rights boil down to that.
The trouble is, collectivists like to hijack and mangle the concept of "rights," in order to justify the INITIATION OF VIOLENCE--the exact opposite of what a "right" really is. For example, when people try to pass off "health care" as a "human right," they are advocating the use of state VIOLENCE (via "taxes") to FORCE some people to serve other people. For example, socialists like Obama are pushing a system in which the government can forcibly rob some people, and/or forcibly conscript doctors and nurses, to give out health care to other people. They are advocating nothing less than widespread government violence, under the euphemism of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." (Sound familiar?) And they have the audacity to talk about it in terms of "rights." And the American people are so clueless they actually buy it.
(Apparently the old world slave-masters just needed better PR guys. Had they managed to pass off "affordable cotton clothing" as a "basic human right," they might still have those slave plantations.)
Unfortunately, having been thoroughly indoctrinated for years, most Americans not only believe, but PROUDLY believe, that no one has a right to keep what he himself produces, but that everyone has a "right" to what his NEIGHBOR produces. And it's hard to get any more economically idiotic, morally schizophrenic, and logically
insane than that.
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