What is a right?

I was recently listening to Dr. Walter E. Williams, and he made a few comments that I had never considered before. He pointed out that we have to recognize that government has no resources of its very own. The money being spent by politicians doesn’t represent them reaching into their own pockets. Neither does it come from Santa Claus. When you recognize that government has no resources of its own, you have to also recognize that the only way for the government to give one American citizen one dollar is for it to first take it from some other American.

He went on to discuss people claiming that “healthcare is a right.” He mentioned the right to free speech and the right to free travel. These are legitimate rights, he said, because they exist simultaneously among people. When you talk about free speech or free travel, all you are actually saying is that no one can interfere with you to prevent you from exercising your rights. No obligations are imposed on anyone else besides that of non-interference. When people talk about healthcare being a right, though, what they actually want is for one person to bear the cost of providing healthcare for another person. So he said if we were to look at free speech and free travel in the same way, it would mean that he could take the money from some other American to be able to have a microphone or to purchase airfare and hotel accommodations.

Ultimately, if you say that someone has a right to something that he did not earn (i.e. healthcare at no charge), you are saying at the same time that someone else does not have the right to something that he did earn (i.e. the right to spend his own money in the way he chooses). Reaching into your own pockets to help a fellow man in need, he says, is praiseworthy and laudable, but reaching into someone else’s pocket to do it is despicable and worthy of condemnation.

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3 Responses to “What is a right?”

  1. Renae says:

    This is a very good point. Consent is an issue here though. We vote for the politicians who spend our money. We are letting them give our money away, they are not stealing it from us. We the people keep crying for socialized health care and without some major reforms I don’t see a way to correct the problem.

  2. casey says:

    You’re right. The point Dr. Williams is making, though, is that we shouldn’t be crying for socialized health care. We do need some major reforms, that’s for sure.

  3. Renae says:

    It takes character to not cry for hand outs. We seem to be raising a generation of slaves due to our socialist education system. Thank you for trying to bring some light to this subject.