AIP column: Rights and wrongs

posted at 9:28 am on August 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

You hear it from ObamaCare advocates incessantly, and the point even gets conceded occasionally by ObamaCare opponents: people have a right to health care.  When people make that argument, it’s designed to change the debate from one of public policy to a neo-Civil Rights movement.  Not surprisingly, the UN has bitten on this canard, too.  However, not only is health care not a right in the American tradition, that argument undermines one of the key principles of American liberty, as I explain in my American Issues Project column today:

Rights cannot be confiscatory in a society that respects the individual right to property. That’s why none of the enumerated rights in the Constitution involve confiscation. Americans have the right to free speech, but they do not have the right to demand publication in a newspaper, nor do they have the right to demand that other people listen when they speak. The right to free expression of religion does not involve occupying someone else’s church and using it to your own ends. You have the right to keep and bear arms, but you do not have the right to demand free or publicly financed weaponry. All of those examples involve confiscating someone else’s property or services, whether done through the government or by force individually.

That brings us to the notion of the “right” to health care. As human beings, we want to see people succeed to the point where they can feed, clothe, and care for themselves independently, as that establishes true personal freedom. However, none of us have the right to confiscate the services of a doctor or nurse without their consent, and without their ability to set a price for their time and expertise. We don’t have the right to walk into a grocery story to demand apples when we’re hungry, either, although we should have access to the market without bias when we can properly compensate its owner for the goods.

Arguing that we have a right to health-care goods and services disconnected from our individual ability to provide that compensation takes us down a much different path than that envisioned by the founders. It owes much more to schools of thought where private property rights have little or no meaning, where the individual gets subsumed by the society in which he lives, and where all property belongs to the people as a whole. We have seen massive experimentation with those systems in the 20th century, and they had several points in common: they resulted in a sharp decline in individual liberty, in production, and in standards of living.

This doesn’t mean we can’t build safety-net programs for those who really need assistance.  We’re a free people, and we can choose to create those programs through our representative democracy, and there are good arguments in either direction on that issue.  However, we need to impose some historical and philosophical reality on the current discussion and get it out of the realm of civil or human rights.  It doesn’t belong there, and the argument that it does leads directly to an attack on private property rights and the underpinnings of true and successful liberty.

Be sure to read the entire column, and while you’re there, catch the other great articles and blogs at AIP.  Cassy Fiano looks at exorbitant government spending — on itself, John Stossel blasts big-business complicity in ObamaCare, and Jimmy Bise actually likes President Obama’s post-office analogy … but not for the reasons Obama liked it.


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Arguing that we have a right to health-care goods and services disconnected from our individual ability to provide that compensation takes us down a much different path than that envisioned by the founders.

Thanks, Ed. Would that the Republican politicians take this up and educate the American people.

Christian Conservative on August 13, 2009 at 9:32 AM

Excellent points. Hopefully the clowns in the UN don’t start finding rights for other countries which should be funded by the evil rich American tax payer.

perroviejo on August 13, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Great article Ed. You should send this to every member in congress, and send it to the white house snitch line, they might learn something.

MDWNJ on August 13, 2009 at 9:34 AM

Arlen Specter was asked aa town hall where Congress got the authority to require everyone to have insurance. Arlen’s answer was “Article I” (powers of Congress).

Wethal on August 13, 2009 at 9:35 AM

There are simply no “rights” that entail the provision of goods and/or services on the part of others. Period.

Logic on August 13, 2009 at 9:35 AM

although we should have access to the market without bias when we can properly compensate its owner for the goods.

This so called right, involves appropriation, just as much as demanding an apple when we are hungry.

We have no right to use someone else’s property, even for a temporary period of time.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

However, none of us have the right to confiscate the services of a doctor or nurse without their consent, and without their ability to set a price for their time and expertise

Great point.

Mulligan on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Ed, did you mean health insurance was not a right? Seems like there is a distinction between saying there is no right to health care and saying there is no right to have the state insure your health care.

DarkKnight3565 on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Our Rights are based on what government cannot do.

coldwarrior on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

We don’t have the right to walk into a grocery story to demand apples when we’re hungry

Give it time. Basic concepts of life have been under attack by liberals for decades.

Grafted on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

If a town didn’t have a hospital nearby, would the federal government then be obligated to build one AND force medical staff to populate it?

Bishop on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

If you have such a right (which you don’t) then you have a right to food FIRST, housing SECOND and then health care.

I don’t see any scrambles to nationalizing the first two.

(Try telling that to some Canadian/UK leftists when they tell you their countries are more respective of humanitarian needs than the US because they have “free” health care… it really ticks them off)

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Awesome article Ed! This needs wide circulation.

elduende on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

although we should have access to the market without bias when we can properly compensate its owner for the goods.

How does this so called right, differ from govt demanding that all doctors must perform abortions, when a patient asks?

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:37 AM

The specific event is dated, but the video is still very powerful.
The communists have awakened a Sleeping giant.

sannhet on August 13, 2009 at 9:37 AM

Your rights end where your wallet ends. Any “right” you claim after that is theft.

beatcanvas on August 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Nothing which requires someone elses labor or money is a “right”

tommyboy on August 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM

We’re a free people, and we can choose to create those programs through our representative democracy, and there are good arguments in either direction on that issue.

This is interesting. You claim that there is no right to health care, but it’s ok to take people’s money, by force, to give to those society feel need it, just because a majority of voters feel it is a good thing to do.

You started of well Ed, but then you shot yourself in the foot by openly contradicting yourself.

Have you been taking lessons from Obama?

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM

It seems I do have a “right” to pay for it (as well as my children).

ColumbusConservative on August 13, 2009 at 9:39 AM

they resulted in a sharp decline in individual liberty, in production, and in standards of living.

Obama has no problem with that. In fact, he WANTS us to have a lower standard of living. He believes it’s unfair to the world for us to live in a home kept at 72 degrees because it contributes to a greater use of energy.

I hope people won’t waste their time trying to convince Obama to change his mind with predictions of outcomes like the above. He WANTS those outcomes.

Daggett on August 13, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Ed, did you mean health insurance was not a right? Seems like there is a distinction between saying there is no right to health care and saying there is no right to have the state insure your health care.

DarkKnight3565 on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

A “right to health care” directly implies that you have a right to have someone provide it. They aren’t seperate issues.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Excellent Ed!

cmsinaz on August 13, 2009 at 9:40 AM

You have a right to buy whatever someone else wants to sell.

There is no right to buy whatever you want.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Give it time. Basic concepts of life have been under attack by liberals for decades.

Grafted on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

Liberals would have an easier time selling the idea if they started with “good sex is a right, not a privilege.”

Daggett on August 13, 2009 at 9:41 AM

Ed, did you mean health insurance was not a right? Seems like there is a distinction between saying there is no right to health care and saying there is no right to have the state insure your health care.

DarkKnight3565 on August 13, 2009 at 9:36 AM

There’s no right to health care period.

A right is something you’re born with, not something given by the state. For someone to “give” you this right to health care, you’d have to force someone into slavery to serve you health care.

Now everyone pretty much agrees that health care is a GOOD THING and we should try to provide it to as many people as possible. (Subsidizing hospitals, helping defray costs, etc) But it’s not a government requirement and certainly it’s above and beyond THIS government’s powers to sell you health care and control the system.

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM

MarkTheGreat: I think Ed’s point is simply that the owner or manager of the market may not arbitrarily prevent certain people from attempting to buy goods there, e.g. a “whites only” market or something similar.

jwolf on August 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM

Health Care is Not a Right

Good writing Ed. This type of argument needs to be made more often (and not just for health care).

Though I do agree with MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM on his point.

modnar on August 13, 2009 at 9:43 AM

MarkTheGreat: I think Ed’s point is simply that the owner or manager of the market may not arbitrarily prevent certain people from attempting to buy goods there, e.g. a “whites only” market or something similar.

jwolf on August 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM

I know that was his point, and I showed him where his point was wrong.

If an owner is stupid enough to want a whites only store, that is his right. Just as it is my right to not shop at such a store. Just as it’s the right of a bar owner to decide whether or not smoking is to be allowed in his bar.

Ownership is nothing, if it does not include the right to control how your property is to be used.

Once the govt takes that power away, then you no longer own the property, the govt does, you just lease the property from the govt.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:44 AM

Great article! Loved it!

Im sending this to my progressive brother who keeps saying he defends the Constitution.

becki51758 on August 13, 2009 at 9:44 AM

The government is supposed to protect the rights we inherently have, not *give* us rights like they are some kind of gift from those in power.

ZenDraken on August 13, 2009 at 9:46 AM

A right is something you’re born with, not something given by the state. For someone to “give” you this right to health care, you’d have to force someone into slavery to serve you health care.

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM

That’s how it was defined by the founding fathers, because they defined rights as God-given, not man-given.

Liberals want to redefine a right as something man (the state) gives. Aside from being part of their lust for power, it makes perfect sense to them, since they view government through Godless secular eyes.

Daggett on August 13, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Of course if you are Obama, this represents a fundamental flaw in the founding father’s thinking…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11OhmY1obS4&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.conservativefront.com%2F2009%2F07%2F18%2Fobama-constitution-reflects-fundamental-flaw%2F&feature=player_embedded

jhffmn on August 13, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Once you accept the idea that govt has the right to tell you how to use your property, where does it stop?

Where is the bright line that says govt is allowed to have this much control, and no more?

There is no such bright line, once you accept the idea that govt has the right to tell you who can shop at your store, you have given the govt the right to do anything it wants with your property. Up to the point of taking it away from you and giving it to someone else.

In some regions of the country, they have no trouble with govt telling some people what colors there house must be painted, and what kind of modifications they can make to the house.

(If the govt wants to “protect” houses that the govt deems “historic”, then the govt can d@mn well buy the house directly.)

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:54 AM

I have a right to Al Gore’s Mansion and Barack Obama’s weekly White House concerts.

Really, how can anyone justify denying me such a basic right?

BTW, is anyone else amused to see that the people who’ve been telling us that we have a constitutional right to not have government involved in our health care decisions (for abortion) now want government to control our health care?

18-1 on August 13, 2009 at 9:55 AM

but you know that saying “there is no right to health care” sounds really, really mean?

kelley in virginia on August 13, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Arlen Specter was asked aa town hall where Congress got the authority to require everyone to have insurance. Arlen’s answer was “Article I” (powers of Congress).

Wethal on August 13, 2009 at 9:35 AM

When Arlen crossed the aisle, betraying the voters who gave him his job and proving that he was loyal only to himself, he unwittingly asked to be fired. He’ll get his wish next November.

perroviejo on August 13, 2009 at 9:55 AM

mark the great: you are great. and be sure to bring up your new baby with these ideals! i hope you have triplets because our side needs the help.

kelley in virginia on August 13, 2009 at 9:56 AM

There is a very simple way to end this Obamacare issue. It can’t happen if the Docs “just say no”. Who’s going to deliver the care if the only providers don’t go along? Even in the UK and Canada there are private, fee-for-service Physicians, and they are increasing in numbers. Here in Illinois the dentists turned back the state government run managed care program by refusing to join. The state brought in a couple of clinics staffed by recent grads and dentists who couldn’t cut it in private practice but that failed after the state employees got a sample of the quality of care being delivered. The state eventually dropped the managed care option. The problem the physicians have is they sold out to the bean counters with Medicare and Medicaid. It’s going to be harder to say no now, but if they want to make any kind of decent living for 16 years of higher education, they will have to do so. Already many are leaving the profession. Recent applications to Illinois dental schools included 12 practicing MDs. I fear the best and the brightest are not going to enter the medical field and you and I will be looking up from the operating table at the guy or gal that missed the cut to get into plumbing school!

illinidriller on August 13, 2009 at 9:56 AM

Obama hits 47% approval

jhffmn on August 13, 2009 at 9:57 AM

This is interesting. You claim that there is no right to health care, but it’s ok to take people’s money, by force, to give to those society feel need it, just because a majority of voters feel it is a good thing to do.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM

But that’s true of EVERY tax.

I agree with you in principal but there’s a definite, non moral, benefit to supporting those who’ve fallen on hard times or are disabled in some manner. I know two fathers, right now, who’ve become physically disabled through no fault of their own (genetic disorders) who now have a family they can’t support. Both desperately want to work and not be on the dole but their disabilities frighten off employers. (Both, btw, have their health care already paid for by the state… health care reform indeed) Their churches help them out, I help them out, but it’s still not enough to keep them consistently afloat.

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Unfortunately, the dems have given themselves the right to buy votes with other people’s money.

RustBelt on August 13, 2009 at 9:59 AM

Liberals want to redefine a right as something man (the state) gives. Aside from being part of their lust for power, it makes perfect sense to them, since they view government through Godless secular eyes.

Daggett on August 13, 2009 at 9:47 AM

Oh yeah, that’s why I barf everytime I hear of how we need a “Airline Passenger’s ‘bill of rights’” or similar ilk

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:59 AM

If you have a right
To something I must provide,
I must be a slave.

Haiku Guy on August 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM

You have a right to health. You don’t have a right to health care. The first is what you do for yourself. The second is what others provide you.

That’s like saying that I have the right to my own TV show as a matter of free speech. While I have the right to speak as much as I like, I can’t mandate that someone provide the channel for me. (Unless I’m Obama – he takes over TV channels all the time.)

beatcanvas on August 13, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Outstanding article. We need to send it to every Congress Critter. They need a refresment of their minds.

BetseyRoss on August 13, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Their churches help them out, I help them out, but it’s still not enough to keep them consistently afloat.

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:58 AM

One way to transition away from our social welfare state is to make it easier to make deductions to charitable organizations. Since the government, especially at the federal level, is incredibly wasteful in this regard, it will dramatically help the truly needy while at the same time removing the unconstitutional, and immoral, structure of the welfare state.

18-1 on August 13, 2009 at 10:04 AM

but you know that saying “there is no right to health care” sounds really, really mean?

kelley in virginia on August 13, 2009 at 9:55 AM

Only to those who assume that all good things flow from govt.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:05 AM

Gee Wiz Ed, leftist thought has nothing to do with the constitution. I have a right to every thing you work hard for so I don’t have to work. Man oh Man don’t be such a stingy jerk!

david kumbera on August 13, 2009 at 10:05 AM

But that’s true of EVERY tax.

I agree with you in principal but there’s a definite, non moral, benefit to supporting those who’ve fallen on hard times or are disabled in some manner. I know two fathers, right now, who’ve become physically disabled through no fault of their own (genetic disorders) who now have a family they can’t support. Both desperately want to work and not be on the dole but their disabilities frighten off employers. (Both, btw, have their health care already paid for by the state… health care reform indeed) Their churches help them out, I help them out, but it’s still not enough to keep them consistently afloat.

Skywise on August 13, 2009 at 9:58 AM

The bright line here, is that there are some things that only govt can do. Such as provide for the national defense.

Everything else, is best left to the private sector.

The example that you give is bad, but there is private charity, and if govt weren’t stealing 40% of our national wealth, there would be even more money available for private charity.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:07 AM

It doesn’t belong there, and the argument that it does leads directly to an attack on private property rights and the underpinnings of true and successful liberty.

I can agree with aspects of your argument Ed. But where in the constitution are there provisions for communal rights, rather than individual rights. Or, more importantly, what do you think of the Supreme Court rulings in the 1870s that enshrined “corporations” as “individuals.” Despite the fact that even in the word corporation there is a denial of individuality. I think there’s a strong constitutional arguments for business taxes which could, probably pay for healthcare and a host of other social programs, even in a world where individual taxes were abolished.

If the argument is that we need to be constitutional traditionalists, how can conservatives support rulings which completely revised the notion of the “individual.”

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:09 AM

One way to transition away from our social welfare state is to make it easier to make deductions to charitable organizations.

18-1 on August 13, 2009 at 10:04 AM

Instead, they have made it more difficult, under Clinton. I give substantial amounts to various charities, both in cash and goods, and the reporting guidelines to the IRS have made it so that I usually don’t claim half of them as deductions.

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:09 AM

The example that you give is bad, but there is private charity, and if govt weren’t stealing 40% of our national wealth, there would be even more money available for private charity.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:07 AM

I think those that support the social welfare state really should be forced to explain why they want to spend more money on such “successes” as HUD at the expense of the likes of the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities.

I know Bush actually tried to address this by working with such organizations, but the Left really didn;t like that idea either…

18-1 on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 AM

I think there is a distinction between arguing that we do not have a right to health care and arguing that we do not have a right to health care insurance.

Health care alone, as provided by the state, is the bare minimum of medical services that can be provided to me if I have no means to compensate the providers. If I am poor, I still have the right to have teachers educate my children or to have policemen protect my being. Similarly, I believe I do have a right to have doctors treat me in an emergency room if I walk in with a broken arm.

Health care insurance implies a measure of health care well beyond the state minimum; including preventative care, examinations, access to drugs, and so on. That we may not have a right to.

DarkKnight3565 on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 AM

There are very few things that only the state can do.

National defense.
Criminal courts. (Civil courts can be provided by the private sector.)
Maybe a few others.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 AM

I think there’s a strong constitutional arguments for business taxes which could, probably pay for healthcare and a host of other social programs, even in a world where individual taxes were abolished.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Who do you think pays those ‘business taxes’? Maybe the consumer?

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 AM

MarkTheGreat: I think Ed’s point is simply that the owner or manager of the market may not arbitrarily prevent certain people from attempting to buy goods there, e.g. a “whites only” market or something similar.

jwolf on August 13, 2009 at 9:42 AM

In a free market society, green is the only color that really means anything.

Johan Klaus on August 13, 2009 at 10:12 AM

I would point out that we have do have a right to health care: we have the right to purchase whatever health care we want, to see whatever doctor we want, as many times as we want, and a right to buy the red pill even if it’s more expensive. That’s our “right to health care” and it’s what liberals desperately want to strip us of.

joe_doufu on August 13, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Who do you think pays those ‘business taxes’? Maybe the consumer?

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 AM

I knew I’d get this response to my post, but I thought this thread was merely about the constitutionality of taxation or property confiscation. What businesses may or may not do with taxes levied against them is one thing. But I’m concerned with the fact that according to a series of revisionist Supreme Court decisions, corporations somehow became individuals. Why does a corp have the same right as an individual, it doesn’t seem like something thats rooted in constitutional principles.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:14 AM

If I am poor, I still have the right to have teachers educate my children or to have policemen protect my being. Similarly, I believe I do have a right to have doctors treat me in an emergency room if I walk in with a broken arm.

Policeman, maybe. Teachers and doctors, no way.

If these are rights, then how could anyone argue that giving you a place to live is not also a right. How about a right to a car, you have to be able to get to your job. Speaking of a job, how can having a job not be a right.

Once you start down that road, no matter how well principled you may believe yourself to be, you have started down the road to socialism and serfdom.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:14 AM

I think there’s a strong constitutional arguments for business taxes which could, probably pay for healthcare and a host of other social programs, even in a world where individual taxes were abolished.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:09 AM

I would argue the opposite. Taxes need to be as transparent as possible, and business taxes are inherently hidden taxes on the citizenry.

18-1 on August 13, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Wethal on August 13, 2009 at 9:35 AM

Actually it was Ben Cardin of Maryland not Specter

xler8bmw on August 13, 2009 at 10:16 AM

to see whatever doctor we want,

joe_doufu on August 13, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Even if the doctor doesn’t want you as a patient?

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:16 AM

You started of well Ed, but then you shot yourself in the foot by openly contradicting yourself.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM

I am with you on this point. Safety nets, while admirable, take mone for one group of people and give it to another. There is NO basis for this in the consitution nor its amendments.

SKYWISE said, “But that’s true of EVERY tax.” That is incorrect. Defense of the nation is an obvious example. If society wants to build safety nets via their governments, do it through your state government. The federal constition does not prevent states from taking people’s money and giving it to another group of people.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:14 AM

Corporations are owned by individuals. Whatever you do to my property, you are doing in affect to me.

The court decisions were not revisionist, they were just recognizing reality and placing it into the law.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Once the govt takes that power away, then you no longer own the property, the govt does, you just lease the property from the govt.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 9:44 AM

With property tax, we just lease it from the government anyway.

Johan Klaus on August 13, 2009 at 10:18 AM

The federal constition does not prevent states from taking people’s money and giving it to another group of people.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Any state govt that permits this, is a state that deserves to lose every productive citizen within it’s borders.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:19 AM

I know Bush actually tried to address this by working with such organizations, but the Left really didn;t like that idea either…

18-1 on August 13, 2009 at 10:11 AM

Again, this is not legal at the federal level.

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
— James Madison

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:20 AM

If you have a right
To something I must provide,
I must be a slave.

Haiku Guy on August 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM

I like Haiku Guy!

Grafted on August 13, 2009 at 10:21 AM

I think there’s a strong constitutional arguments for business taxes which could, probably pay for healthcare and a host of other social programs, even in a world where individual taxes were abolished.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Businesses do not pay taxes. Their customers do.

Johan Klaus on August 13, 2009 at 10:21 AM

The Dems are very good at this game. Beware.

faraway on August 13, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Any state govt that permits this, is a state that deserves to lose every productive citizen within it’s borders.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Agree with you on that too. At least there would be up to 56 other states to move to and you could still be in the greatest nation on earth.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Corporations are owned by individuals. Whatever you do to my property, you are doing in affect to me.

Well most are owned by a set of individuals, not one individual. So, for example, of one stock holder thinks the corporation he owns a part of should do one thing, and another has a different opinion who has the “right” to detemine the course of their “property?” How about when there are differing opinions between the CEO and the board and the primary investors. A corporation is NOT the same as an individual, and thus, should not have the same rights and protections as individuals.

If corporations should have the same rights as an individual, does that mean that churches are “individuals” that YMCAs are “individuals.” It’s blatantly unconstitutional. What kind of a standard can be created that doesnt, effectively, negate the whole notion of “individual rights,” a concept that’s important to our Democracy.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:22 AM

The court decisions were not revisionist, they were just recognizing reality and placing it into the law.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Well they were recognizing the power of the industrial elite. But if “recognizing reality” isn’t revisionist than, what is?

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Why does a corp have the same right as an individual, it doesn’t seem like something thats rooted in constitutional principles.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:14 AM

Because it is an entity independent of a sole proprietor. It is a collective group of owners (stockholders) who cannot be readily assembled. Therefore, the corporation was created to become the prime entity. The corporation sells goods, pays taxes, carries insurance, and holds the liablility for the products produced. It is merely an outgrowth of the increasing size of business, not a conspiracy.

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:24 AM

One obvious proviso that I have overlooked so far, is that while I have a right to control my property, I do not have a right to use that control to hurt someone else.

I do not have a right to use my control of my baseball bat, to make indentations in your skull.

However, offense is not harm. If the color that I choose to paint my house offends you, tough luck on your part.

Beyond that, another sticky problem is what are called raparian rights (I think I’ve spelled it right)

In a nutshell, if a stream flows through several people’s property, who does the water belong to. The commonly accepted answer is, it belongs to everyone whos property the stream flows through. That is, I do not have the right to take all of the water flowing through a stream, because that would be stealing the water from those who live downsream. Nor could I pollute that water. Air is similar, while it would be pretty hard for me to take all of the air, I can’t pollute it to the point where other people are harmed. (You may not like the smell of my campfire, but since you aren’t harmed by the odor, tough cookies.)

Govt does have a legitimate role in defending raparian rights, see my comments about criminal courts above.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:27 AM

If corporations should have the same rights as an individual, does that mean that churches are “individuals” that YMCAs are “individuals.” It’s blatantly unconstitutional. What kind of a standard can be created that doesnt, effectively, negate the whole notion of “individual rights,” a concept that’s important to our Democracy.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:22 AM

A better way to look at it, IMHO, is property owners. If an entity can own property, the rights of that entity are protected under the federal constition.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Well they were recognizing the power of the industrial elite. But if “recognizing reality” isn’t revisionist than, what is?

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Gag, I hate it when populists think they know what they are talking about.

What makes you think that just because someone has a lot of money, they lose their rights? A corporation is no different from the corner grocer, just bigger.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM

Illegal aliens have a right to sneak into this country and benefit from tax dollars

Everyone has a right to free health care

Everyone has a right to a car, housing and a job (if they really feel like working)

and if you vote straight Democratic, all of these things will be yours….but when they aren’t, ever, blame the insurance companies, Rush Limbaugh and Bush.

Hening on August 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM

It’s not only the UN that declares that health care is a right. There is another large transnational institution that says so. The difference is that it’s probably more popular on this site than the UN, although it certainly has its very noisy critics here.

corona on August 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM

If you have a right
To something I must provide,
I must be a slave.

Haiku Guy on August 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM

I like Haiku Guy!

Grafted on August 13, 2009 at 10:21 AM

Me too.

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Well most are owned by a set of individuals, not one individual. So, for example, of one stock holder thinks the corporation he owns a part of should do one thing, and another has a different opinion who has the “right” to detemine the course of their “property?” How about when there are differing opinions between the CEO and the board and the primary investors. A corporation is NOT the same as an individual, and thus, should not have the same rights and protections as individuals.

You really should study a little bit before you start spouting. It would make you look less like a communist.
Each person’s control of a corporation is comensurate with their ownership portion. That is, each person votes their shares in the corporation.

Why do you feel that it is ok to steal from people, so long as each person doesn’t lose too much?

If corporations should have the same rights as an individual, does that mean that churches are “individuals” that YMCAs are “individuals.”

In as much as they are owned by someone, then you are correct.

It’s blatantly unconstitutional. What kind of a standard can be created that doesnt, effectively, negate the whole notion of “individual rights,” a concept that’s important to our Democracy.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Just because you believe something that is patently wrong, doesn’t make it right.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Because it is an entity independent of a sole proprietor. It is a collective group of owners (stockholders) who cannot be readily assembled. Therefore, the corporation was created to become the prime entity. The corporation sells goods, pays taxes, carries insurance, and holds the liablility for the products produced. It is merely an outgrowth of the increasing size of business, not a conspiracy.

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:24 AM

Two things are at play here:

1. It’s clear that conservatives are OK with massively revisionist decisions by the Court as long as that decision favors large corporations. Terms like “outgrowth” indicate that the country had changed, and thus, the scope of constitutional protections changed along with it, despite the fact that the original constitution has no provisions which indicates that constitutional rights for corporations was something the founders intended. Does founders intent matter or not? Is revisionism bad or not? Can we shed this false notion that conservatives = strict constitutionalist and recognize that, regardless of ideology, people want the court to legislate and to amend and expand the original intent of the founding documents.

Because it is an entity independent of a sole proprietor. It is a collective group of owners (stockholders) who cannot be readily assembled.herefore, the corporation was created to become the prime entity. The corporation sells goods, pays taxes, carries insurance, and holds the liablility for the products produced.

2. This is my point though. The court had to, quite literally, invent a catagory of “person” to award corporations individual rights. That defies the notion that the constitution is meant to govern human, individual rights. And, if you just take the next logical stake there’s huge problems with that argument. Despite the difficulty of assembly investors still profit from corporation profit. Yes the “corporation” sells goods, but human individuals decide what those goods are and, in the case of liability, should be held responsible for those decisions. And, ultimately, the Court has not been consistent since that ruling, a corporation can’t be convicted of murder even if a corporate product kills someone. Why not? If a corporation is a constitutional individual aren’t they subject to all the laws that humans are subject to?

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Govt does have a legitimate role in defending raparian rights, see my comments about criminal courts above.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:27 AM

And the government should be as close to the people as possible. In the the stream case, the town or county government would be the ultimate authority.

I do not mind towns making laws about the color of house, type of materials used (e.g., brick only), and no smoking in businesses (do no support this law). The less number of people the government effects, the more latitude it should have to take freedoms away from those it governs. If the goverment chooses poorly, the consequences will be felt by those that made the bad decisions.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:34 AM

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Why do you believe that you, and you alone, know the correct way to interpret the constitution?

Why do you assume that the only reason someone would disagree with you and your immaculate interpretations is because they are part of a conspiracy?

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Great article Ed, and MarkTheGreat’s comments are spot on. There’s a lot of squishy thinking on the left starting with the UN Convenant on Econonic, Social and Cultural Rights supported by socialist countries for decades. These are not rights enshrined in our Constitution, but leftists either think they should be (we’re all selfish otherwise) or the general welfare clause somehow supports them. Problem is, among other things, the general welfare clause — if anything — should only apply to Fed actions that benefit the general, i.e., whole, population (like common defense) . . . not actions that benefit some people at the expense of others.

Firefly_76 on August 13, 2009 at 10:35 AM

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Mother of Antonin Scalia you are stupid.

Take your class warfare sh#t somewhere else.

daesleeper on August 13, 2009 at 10:36 AM

A corporation is no different from the corner grocer, just bigger.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:28 AM

A corporation owned by an individual is an asset or an investment, no different than a house. Does a “house” have constitutiona rights as an individual? Can you murder a house? Can you sue a “house?” Of course not, you can sue its owner. But a corporation with multiple owners, a piece of communal property, is a constitutional individual? How?

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Well most are owned by a set of individuals, not one individual. So, for example, of one stock holder thinks the corporation he owns a part of should do one thing, and another has a different opinion who has the “right” to detemine the course of their “property?” How about when there are differing opinions between the CEO and the board and the primary investors.

The stockholders vote on the direction of the corporation, and majority rules. Your level of ownership in the corporation determines how much say you have in the running of the corporation.

A corporation is NOT the same as an individual, and thus, should not have the same rights and protections as individuals.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:22 AM

Corporations don’t have all the rights of individuals, just the responsibility. A corporation can’t cast a vote in a presidential elections, just to name one example.

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:38 AM

I do not mind towns making laws about the color of house, type of materials used (e.g., brick only), and no smoking in businesses (do no support this law). The less number of people the government effects, the more latitude it should have to take freedoms away from those it governs. If the goverment chooses poorly, the consequences will be felt by those that made the bad decisions.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:34 AM

It seems that you are arguing that as long as not too many people are screwed, it’s ok for govt to trample on people’s rights.

Rights are rights, no govt has the authority to take away these rights, town, county, state, federal, world. It doesn’t matter.

That it is easier to avoid a town that tramples on rights is not the same as saying it doesn’t matter if a town tramples on rights.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:38 AM

Why do you believe that you, and you alone, know the correct way to interpret the constitution?

My point is that conservatives claim that there is only ONE way to interpret the constitution. That is in a “strict” “constitutionalist” way that most closely mirrors the “founders intent.” I’m merely attempting to apply those standards to the issue of corporations to demonstrate that conservatives have no problem awarding “rights” to entities that are not enshrined in the constitutoin. Thus, deligitimizing the constitutional arguments against healthcare reform.

Why do you assume that the only reason someone would disagree with you and your immaculate interpretations is because they are part of a conspiracy?

I didn’t accuse anyone of being part of a conspiracy.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:39 AM

Yes the “corporation” sells goods, but human individuals decide what those goods are and, in the case of liability, should be held responsible for those decisions. And, ultimately, the Court has not been consistent since that ruling, a corporation can’t be convicted of murder even if a corporate product kills someone. Why not? If a corporation is a constitutional individual aren’t they subject to all the laws that humans are subject to?

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:33 AM

Union Carbide, Bhopal, India – look it up.
Johns Manville, USA – ditto.

Vashta.Nerada on August 13, 2009 at 10:41 AM

A corporation owned by an individual is an asset or an investment, no different than a house. Does a “house” have constitutiona rights as an individual? Can you murder a house? Can you sue a “house?” Of course not, you can sue its owner. But a corporation with multiple owners, a piece of communal property, is a constitutional individual? How?

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:36 AM

You know, if you would bother to learn a little bit, you wouldn’t sound so brain numbingly stupid.

I’ve tried to cut you some slack up till now, but you have exhausted my patience.

1) When the court said a corporation had the same rights as a person, they did not declare that a corporation was indistinguishable from a person. Only a complete moron would think that the courts had. (See my comments above about you being brain numbingly stupid.)

2) It doesn’t matter that a corporation is property. My rights flow down to whatever I own. It’s a very basic concept. Try learning it.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:42 AM

We’re a free people, and we can choose to create those programs through our representative democracy, and there are good arguments in either direction on that issue.

This is interesting. You claim that there is no right to health care, but it’s ok to take people’s money, by force, to give to those society feel need it, just because a majority of voters feel it is a good thing to do.

You started of well Ed, but then you shot yourself in the foot by openly contradicting yourself.

I agree. That is like saying we are free to revoke freedom of speech through our representatives. WE can revoke it but it should require a Constitutional amendment.

That said, as a free people, we are allowed to band together on our own to provide this aid that is not a right. We just should not be allowed to compel others to foot the bill.

OBQuiet on August 13, 2009 at 10:43 AM

Thanks, Ed. Would that the Republican politicians take this up and educate the American people.

Christian Conservative on August 13, 2009 at 9:32 AM

You know, watching the townhalls lately, it looks like the American people are educating the politicians!

katy on August 13, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Rights are rights, no govt has the authority to take away these rights, town, county, state, federal, world. It doesn’t matter.

That it is easier to avoid a town that tramples on rights is not the same as saying it doesn’t matter if a town tramples on rights.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:38 AM

I take the view that you are trampling on the rights of a group of people to establish laws as they see fit. Obivously, those laws must be bound by the governing consitution of that entity.

For example, the subdivision I live in bans perimeter fences via the association (that I am a member nowadays). This law atracted me to this subdivision. Perimeter fences are not banned in my town. Your position infringes on my right to agree with others to ban perimeter fences.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:45 AM

My point is that conservatives claim that there is only ONE way to interpret the constitution. That is in a “strict” “constitutionalist” way that most closely mirrors the “founders intent.” I’m merely attempting to apply those standards to the issue of corporations to demonstrate that conservatives have no problem awarding “rights” to entities that are not enshrined in the constitutoin. Thus, deligitimizing the constitutional arguments against healthcare reform.

There is only one way to interpret the constitution, and corporations having rights is perfectly within that interpretation. As has been demonstrated to you, over and over and over again.

The problem is that you are so drunk on your class warfare nonsense that you don’t care about reality. All you want is an argument that advances your cause, and you don’t care whether or not that argument actually makes sense.

Your argument about corporations makes as much sense as saying that there is no freedom of speech on tv or radio, because neither of those technologies were known to the fathers of the constitution.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:46 AM

I take the view that you are trampling on the rights of a group of people to establish laws as they see fit. Obivously, those laws must be bound by the governing consitution of that entity.

WashJeff on August 13, 2009 at 10:45 AM

There is no right to establish any law that you see fit.

For such a right to exist, then that would mean that govt has all the rights and people have none.

If people have no rights, then they do not have the right to pass any law they see fit.

Such a right is by it’s very nature, self-contradictory.

Just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean you have a right to do it. Even if you hire govt to do it for you.

MarkTheGreat on August 13, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Just to be clear. My point in bringing this up is to demonstrate that conservatives have no problem with declaring certain things “rights” that were not rights in the past when it jives with their overall business model. But when it comes to healthcare then people become “strict constitutionalists.”

When the court said a corporation had the same rights as a person, they did not declare that a corporation was indistinguishable from a person.

I don’t think anyone is claiming the court said that physiologically or in most other standards that a “corporation” is indistinguishable from a person. What the court did declare was that corporations and humans, in terms of their constitutional protections, were indistinguishable.

And you’ve ignored the distinction between an individual owned business, which is no different than an investment or other piece of private property. And a communally owned corporation. There actually should be a different set of constitutional standards for those two things. The individually owned business, in your words, “flows directly” from you to that piece of property. A communally owned corporation makes questions of liability infinitely more complicated.

CrankyIndependent on August 13, 2009 at 10:49 AM

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