Today, it seems like wants become needs, needs become rights, and, well... you know what happens when enough people say they have a right to something. It becomes yet another excuse to grow government.
John Locke's ideas on NATURAL RIGHTS were based on your ability to mix your labor with unowned natural resources to create something new; thereby becoming your property. In other words, you OWN the fruits of your labor. By producing something new, you have a right to keep it, sell it, give it away or otherwise decide how it is used or disposed of. Also, Locke talked about man's inherent rights to life, liberty and property. This was revolutionary in the 1600's, when the prevailing law was that the King owned everything, including you. Unfortunately, these rights are once again revolutionary.
The Declaration of Independence described these rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but retained Locke's idea of natural rights.
Groups may facilitate the protection of these natural rights, but group rights depend on and are limited by the individual rights of those who create or support the group. Frederic Bastiat wrote about this in THE LAW.
Contrary to the natural, defensive right to protect yourself and your property from theft or other aggression; another, completely different set of "rights" sprang up over the last several decades, especially since the New Deal of the 1930's. To best describe these "rights," I call them Theft Rights, because that is how they differ from Locke's natural rights. Theft Rights, as the name implies, depend on theft against innocents.
Following the popular "progressive" tide by taking some people's property and giving it to others, President Roosevelt came up with some new rights in 1944, mixed with the old ones so few would notice the difference. His ECONOMIC BILL OF RIGHTS (AKA Second Bill of Rights) included several new benefits, which had nothing to do with protection of individual rights. On the contrary, the only means of providing these would be the forceful theft of money and property from others to fulfill them. These "rights" included the idea that everyone should be provided with the following tangible things:
- Employment with a living wage
- Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
- Medical Care
- Social Security
These "rights" greatly enhanced the power of government to implement Roosevelt's progressive agenda, changing government from a protector of individual natural rights to a gang of thieves who takes property from some by force and gives it to others. It was Republican President Hoover, a former mining engineer and Roosevelt's predecessor, who began the New Deal, which Roosevelt finished. Roosevelt perverted one of the natural rights described in the Declaration, (pursuit of happiness, which became just happiness) as an excuse to provide these Theft Rights. In short, government now guaranteed happiness (not just freedom to pursue it), without mentioning the only way to do this is to steal wealth from others. This became the second-greatest fraud of the twentieth century (first was the Fed).
Tibor Machan recently (2013) published an essay that supports my thesis here:
WELFARE RIGHTS ARE WRONG
The Fed, income tax, New Deal, escalation of the welfare state and decades of undeclared wars since 1945 were all the result of this brilliant, though destructive, power grab. This idea, and its addictive "free" benefits to some, is why today's U.S. government has unfunded future financial liabities between 50 and 100 TRILLION DOLLARS, depending on assumptions. The highest credible estimate I've seen, by the Cato Institute, is 120 trillion dollars, which is more than eight times current GDP. The lower figure is more consistent with former Comptroller General of the U.S. David Walker's estimates, who quit the federal government and went to work for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to promote government austerity measures from outside the beast. Roosevelt's power grab, arguably the most blatant, was not the last. Today, every branch of the federal government rountinely steps outside the bounds of its constitutional powers. Without exaggeration, America's government is no longer limited.
It's good to be the King.
No Congress, no Supreme Court, no Constitution, not even a popular vote; just the President promising prosperity by theft. This is why some call today's democracies "kleptocracies," where everyone is entitled to steal from everyone else. Although Roosevelt's action was not the first such aggression against the natural, defensive rights upon which the American Republic was founded, it was arguably the most destructive. It opened the flood gates for everyone to claim they have a right to anything, for which somebody else would pay. This is why government is so large and oppressive today, so easily manipulated by the left and the right.
Both the left's welfare state and the right's warfare state were greatly enhanced by these policies, to the detriment of every American's freedom - even those who directly benefit from them.
Since I was born in 1945, the year of Roosevelt's death, It's been like a decades-long football game between Democrats and Republicans, where each time one team gets the ball, it has grown much larger. Eventually, the ball will explode. Whoever has the ball when it explodes will get blamed for both parties' sins, but by then, it won't matter.
Of course, when Roosevelt was concocting these new Theft Rights, which would eventually be cheerfully embraced by both political parties, there was no mention of the theft part. Since 1913's Sixteenth Amendment (income tax) was passed (previously unconstitutional) and the Federal Reserve Act (also in 1913; still unconstitutional), the U.S. government had cleverly segregated its revenue from its spending. After these two advances in "progressive" government, now supported by almost all conservatives, government began a long, modern tradition of endless promises of benefits without considering costs or tradeoffs. Now might be a good time to review how this was done by Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt by reading Lawrence Reed's excellent pamphlet, GREAT MYTHS OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION.
If you think these new "rights" represented a cornucopia of wealth, please remember that the Mafia, just like government, can also create prosperity by theft, but only for its beneficiaries. Similarly, 60% of Americans today get more from government than they pay in, while 40% pay more than they receive, as I discussed in WHO BENEFITS AND WHO PAYS FOR GOVERNMENT. After 1913 and again during and after the New Deal, the U.S. Government became a super-Mafia, combining theft and intimidation with unconstrained violence to benefit some at the expense of others. Both organizations do the same thing - take (steal) portions of the lives of productive people, deduct government's (mafia's) cut, and give the remainder to those who worship it as benefactor and savior. This is what American Mafia Government has become.
The Godfather should be so lucky.