Notes from the SRLC fringe

posted at 12:28 pm on April 10, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Normally, a Republican conference brings out a veritable army of protesters, but the SRLC in New Orleans disappoints on that score.  Perhaps the French Quarter Festival that’s taking place now made travel a little too difficult, or maybe the Left has enough problems of their own with the Democrats.  In any case, the only protesters I’ve seen here at the SRLC were this small band of sign bearers from Amnesty International on our way out of the conference yesterday evening:

That was all of them, and they were slightly less enthusiastic than this picture suggests.  One of our passengers in the van opened the door to engage them and asked them if sex was a human right, to which they shouted “Yes!”  Maybe they’d like to explain how that works when one can’t find a partner f0r that kind of activity, but that would presume that they understand the concept of human rights at all.  Since they’re arguing that health care and housing are “rights,” I doubt they would grasp the dilemma.

Heck, at least they weren’t out there supporting “defensive jihad” by terrorist networks.  They need to check in with the home office more often, I suppose.

Just in case any of these benighted youngsters check in at Hot Air, here’s my rebuttal to their jejune protest sloganeering and a crash course in actual human rights, from my AIP column of last year.

Rights and Wrongs

The current health-care debate may produce some of the best civics lessons given in the United States for several decades – if we can get the media to challenge one of the underlying assumptions of government-run health-care advocates.  It’s a sound bite we hear repeatedly from supporters of Obama’s health-care reform proposal, and one we sometimes hear from its opponents when they try to sound reasonable.  The UN even got into the act with a declaration not long ago, insisting that health care was a basic human right.

It may sound harsh, and it may sound “unreasonable,” but health care is not a right, at least in the terms understood in the American experience.  In fact, the insistence that health care is a right contradicts the basic fabric of liberty: property rights.

To start, let’s take another look at the founding documents of the US to get a sense of what “rights” meant to those who formed the nation.  From the first moments of independence, the founders focused on the “unalienable rights” of free men: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  The only other right mentioned specifically in the Declaration of Independence is the right to overthrow any government that does not respect those unalienable rights.

In the Constitution, the founders returned to clarify what specific rights the Creator had endowed for men and women.  It is not an accident that the very first mention of a “right” in that document comes not in the Bill of Rights concerning the relationship of government to its citizens, but in acknowledging the crucial role of property rights in liberty.  In Article I, Section 8, the founders provided Congress the power to create an environment for creativity and industrial impulse by “securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

This gave Americans the right to control and profit from their own intellect, treating their works as individual property that the nascent nation would protect to help build a prosperous America.  Instead of being a subject who had a sovereign lord who would demand tribute or even receive in some cases a royal monopoly restricting trade and goods, Americans would own their own property and prosper from its use.

The Bill of Rights also followed a pattern, which was to lift the innate, natural rights of citizens above the power of government.  The rights in those first ten amendments again flowed from the concept of natural law, which flow from the individual and not from the society in which the individual lives.  The rights to speech, assembly, privacy, petition for redress of grievances, to keep and bear arms, and so on come from the individual himself as a consequence of his humanity – and require no gift or confiscation from government.

Note that the founders did not add a right to health care, or to food, or shelter, or even water in this bill.  Why?  Each of those items existed in those days, obviously, and were just as critical to life and happiness as they are today.  However, to grant a right to food, as an example, would directly contradict the idea that the farmer who grows the food has a right to ownership of the fruits of his labors – literally speaking, in this instance.  It sets in motion a confiscatory requirement to satisfy that right.  Someone has to seize that food and distribute it to others in order to bring that “right” to fruition.

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.

The founders understood that property rights would secure liberty and the greatest good for the nation as a whole.  That’s why they declared the “pursuit of happiness” as an unalienable right, and not the end result of happiness itself.  They knew that creating a government that respects private property and the innate rights of individuals over their government would create the best opportunities to achieve happiness for the largest amount of people.  The 20th century proved them correct, for those who paid attention.


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Comments

Anyone else notice how overwhelmingly white the protesters are?

Someone call Chris Matthews.

joshleguern on April 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

So which one is Growfins??? crr6???

BigWyo on April 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

AI is a clearing house for morons and assorted other useless idiots.

thomasaur on April 10, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Thank you, Ed. I printed out your essay for my college-bound daughter. She is conservative leaning and will be attending an Ivy League – she needs all the help she can get and this column gives her a great foundation.

CarolynM on April 10, 2010 at 12:36 PM

One of our passengers in the van opened the door to engage them and asked them if sex was a human right, to which they shouted “Yes!”

No Justice No Piece!

kahall on April 10, 2010 at 12:37 PM

It may sound harsh, and it may sound “unreasonable,” but health care is not a right, at least in the terms understood in the American experience.

Rights don’t require you too steal from another human being.

gdonovan on April 10, 2010 at 12:39 PM

Gun ownership is a constitutional right, too. See the Second Amendment.

Wethal on April 10, 2010 at 12:40 PM

No Justice No Piece!

kahall on April 10, 2010 at 12:37 PM

The fault lies with BUSH!

VegasRick on April 10, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Anyone else notice how overwhelmingly white the protesters are?

Someone call Chris Matthews.

joshleguern on April 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Bazinga!

Enoxo on April 10, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Ed,

Thanks for reproducing your ‘rights’ article. It still reads very well!

As for the AA turnout, they really should start with lefty chicks. If they come, hordes of guys will follow. 60% of the time it works every time!

chaswv on April 10, 2010 at 12:41 PM

It doesn’t surprise me that these protesters don’t look old enough to have held a real job for any length of time. It dovetails with the idea that they believe others owe them something.

Liberalism is narcissism. It’s all about them and they cannot see how imposing their will on another person is bad. Because really, in their minds, other people exist purely as a means to their end.

ButterflyDragon on April 10, 2010 at 12:41 PM

I guess the critical distinction made by Sir Isaiah Berlin between “negative liberty” and “positive liberty” is foreign to them?

Here’s a good link to what he was distinguishing: Berlin.

SteveMG on April 10, 2010 at 12:43 PM

MSNBC & CNN reported thousands of protestors. /

Mojave Mark on April 10, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Justice does not equal theft.

Justice does not equal theft.

Justice does not equal theft.

I have repeated that so maybe it will sink in.

tetriskid on April 10, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Bottom line is if I have a right to a 600,000 dollar cancer treatment then why don’t I have a right to a 120,000 corvette? It is still taking from someone else so that I can be comfortable. In health care you get what you pay for and in some cases much more, that is the sharing of risk. As a society we are more than generous to those who need help but if you don’t share the risk why should you reap the profits of others labor.
On another note what other group in society gives away more services for free than the Docs and Dentists? I’ll answer that ..NONE.

tim c on April 10, 2010 at 12:47 PM

When the left is in the position to decide what “human rights” are, no rights are left.

BottomLine5 on April 10, 2010 at 12:47 PM

CarolynM on April 10, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Best of luck to your daughter. She’s walking into a hornets nest.

But if she has a personal and good grasp on con principles she will be fine.

blatantblue on April 10, 2010 at 12:47 PM

I’m still stumped as to how Health Care is a right yet the state can mandate and ration it.

But hey, I still am under the impression that 1+1=2.

jukin on April 10, 2010 at 1:04 PM

Liberalism is narcissism. It’s all about them and they cannot see how imposing their will on another person is bad. Because really, in their minds, other people exist purely as a means to their end.
ButterflyDragon on April 10, 2010 at 12:41 PM

That’s as good a definition of sociopathy as I’ve encountered. The most likely explanation for the childish obsession with zombies is that it’s a projection of their own mental state.

warbaby on April 10, 2010 at 1:06 PM

CarolynM on April 10, 2010 at 12:36 PM

I have two daughters at UF and they respond to the leftist education in different ways. The oldest is the rebel and she is definitely conservative (but with a moderate boyfreind). The youngest takes no sh__t. She takes on professors, TA’s, students, whomever. She gets it and will not stand down.

zeebeach on April 10, 2010 at 1:07 PM

Seriously, don’t these kids have something constructive to do, such as smoke pot and try to beat their high score on Guitar Hero?

RMOccidental on April 10, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Average age of the protesters: 19

carbon_footprint on April 10, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Note to hippies: Deodorant is a human right.

Laura in Maryland on April 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Excellent post, Ed, but do you really think any of these folks are going to listen? I have yet to meet a liberal who let the facts get in the way of their current narrative, regardless of its inanity or triteness.

College Prof on April 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Thank you, Ed. I printed out your essay for my college-bound daughter. She is conservative leaning and will be attending an Ivy League – she needs all the help she can get and this column gives her a great foundation.

CarolynM on April 10, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Also, give her doc Zero’s… with these two she can start to make the transition to full blown conservatism…

CCRWM on April 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Ron Paul wins.

Spathi on April 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Being a sponging moocher is a human right; throw in chix and it’s a divine right.

ya2daup on April 10, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Excellent post, Ed, but do you really think any of these folks are going to listen? I have yet to meet a liberal who let the facts get in the way of their current narrative, regardless of its inanity or triteness.

College Prof on April 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

I actually did get through to one liberal in the health care is a right argument.

I was talking to a friend and told him to imagine him, another friend of ours and myself were stranded on an island. Which one of us would he force to be the health care provider? Since none of us know a thing about providing health care it dawned on him that it would be futile.

ButterflyDragon on April 10, 2010 at 1:21 PM

I have yet to meet a liberal who let the facts get in the way of their current narrative, regardless of its inanity or triteness.

Well, the left and right have a different concept of rights.

We use the same terms but do so quite differently. So we then accuse each of other of using those words/terms for their own interest.

Broadly speaking, the left loves equality; the right loves liberty. The two concepts are in perpetual conflict.

SteveMG on April 10, 2010 at 1:23 PM

At the time the United States was invented, the center of each community was the church. That’s where all the most important events in your life happened, and where you found the people to help you recover from personal disasters. Your county was there to enforce state laws, keep records, and your state was there to do the same, along with passing new laws. The federal government was there to deal with war, foreign policy, and enforcing federal laws. People from that era wouldn’t think for a minute that the federal government was required, or even authorized, to get involved in your health care. I would be as unimaginable as having the federal government get involved in buying your funeral services. Whether on a pine box budget, or on an engraved bronze budget, paying for your funeral was the business of your family, your church, and your insurance agent if you had one. Same for your hospital bill.

RBMN on April 10, 2010 at 1:25 PM

Also, give her doc Zero’s… with these two she can start to make the transition to full blown conservatism…

CCRWM on April 10, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Will do. I think the hardest thing for young people to do is to counter a statement like “health care is a right” without sounding cynical and even outrageous to their peers- it’s a difficult argument for anyone to articulate let alone a student surrounded by the community/global warming/diversity/and if you disagree you’re a racist/ mindset.

CarolynM on April 10, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Broadly speaking, the left loves equality at the lowest common denominator — like crabs in a bucket; the right loves liberty — to be all you can be. The two concepts are in perpetual conflict.

SteveMG on April 10, 2010 at 1:23 PM
FIFY

AH_C on April 10, 2010 at 1:51 PM

AH_C on April 10, 2010 at 1:51 PM

arrgh – messed up on the bold-ing

AH_C on April 10, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Gun ownership is a constitutional right, too. See the Second Amendment.

I wonder how they’d react if you walked up holding a nearly-identical yellow sign that read “SELF DEFENSE IS A HUMAN RIGHT. Support the 2nd Amendment”.

Anyone else want to bet their reaction would involve spitting?

Crawford on April 10, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Amnesty International? Where are the “burning little girls with acid for trying to get an education — is a human right” and “burying your daughter alive for refusing to marry her cousin — is a human right” and, of course, “Jihad is a human right” signs?

Those guys must have gotten caught in traffic.

29Victor on April 10, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Anybody that believes their limp socialist crap please get help.

rplat on April 10, 2010 at 2:33 PM

No Justice No Piece!

kahall on April 10, 2010 at 12:37 PM

No Piece, No Peace!

Jvette on April 10, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Broadly speaking, the left loves equality

I disagree that the left loves equality. They have no understanding of the equality guaranteed us all in the DI and the Constitution. They are all about equality until it means giving up some of their wealth and comforts. Do you think Oprah is ready to open her home to any homeless? Do you think Sean Penn is willing to take a pay cut so that everyone who works on one of his movies makes the same amount? Do you think Michael Moore is willing to give up a meal so that someone hungry can eat?

Jvette on April 10, 2010 at 2:54 PM

slim pickens and the hash was even free

tarpon on April 10, 2010 at 3:11 PM

“Toilet Paper is a Human Right!”

Dandapani on April 10, 2010 at 3:33 PM

They should get a job.

tommer74 on April 10, 2010 at 3:51 PM

The hell does health care being a human right have to do with political prisoners? I think another rights group just lost its relevance.

abobo on April 10, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Does one of those signs say “Housing is a human right”? I have an image in my head from Dr. Zhivago when the commies take over the houses of the wealthy….

I agree with an earlier commenter that these signs seem irrelevant to Amnesty International’s stated aim – except perhaps the “Justice is a human right” sign. But even that – what’s the point of waving it at a SRLC conference? What are they trying to say? Justice for whom?

CityFish on April 10, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Anyone else notice how overwhelmingly white the protesters are?

Someone call Chris Matthews.

joshleguern on April 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Sorry , Tingles said he can’t take any calls for about 1/2 hour. He said not to be disturbed as he went to dressing room wearing a thong and carrying a pic of the precedent.

cableguy615 on April 10, 2010 at 5:43 PM

Ed,

Our elites keep trying to get us to trade our ancient rights for these shiny new rights, such as this:

Old rights: Freedom of Speech
New “Rights”: My Freedom Not to be Offended by your Freedom of Speech

I’ve compiled a list. Some other examples:

Old rights: involved telling King George to go to hell
New “Rights”: involves going to the Chinese with hat in hand

Old rights: the American Dream
New “Rights”: the Soviet Daydream

Old rights: for American citizens
New “Rights”: for rocks, insects, plants, dirt and terrorists

Old rights: written in the Bill of Rights
New “Rights”: written on back of Bill Clinton’s Playboy

Old rights: “Congress shall make no law…”
New “Rights”: Congress shall make no sense. …

Noel on April 10, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Not A Right, A Responsibility and Responsibility = Control

Health coverage is not a right, it is a responsibility.

As such the debate should be over who is responsible for your health coverage — your employer, the government, or you.

Remember, responsibility for an issue is equal to control of that issue.

LifeTrek on April 10, 2010 at 6:38 PM

Note to hippies: Deodorant is a human right personal responsibility.

Laura in Maryland on April 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

;)

pannw on April 10, 2010 at 9:08 PM

I wish I could be there when they get their first paychecks and angrily ask who FICA is. Poor little fools.

redwhiteblue on April 10, 2010 at 10:08 PM

These boots are made for walking,…….

christene on April 10, 2010 at 11:12 PM

Anyone else notice how overwhelmingly white the protesters are?
Someone call Chris Matthews.
joshleguern on April 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Good point!
And they all look like Olbermann? Hummm?
Guess that’s why they think Sex is a Human right.

BTW, Why is the Democrat party majority white?

DSchoen on April 10, 2010 at 11:36 PM

Sorry , Tingles said he can’t take any calls for about 1/2 hour. He said not to be disturbed as he went to dressing room wearing a thong and carrying a pic of the precedent.
cableguy615 on April 10, 2010 at 5:43 PM

With or without the “Palin wig”?

DSchoen on April 10, 2010 at 11:38 PM

Why do all the signs look the same?

I’m calling AstroTurf.

Mr Purple on April 11, 2010 at 12:21 AM

With or without the “Palin wig”?

DSchoen on April 10, 2010 at 11:38 PM

Shazam !

cableguy615 on April 11, 2010 at 8:55 AM

Not only is universal health care not a right, it is immoral to even propose it.

proconstitution on April 11, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Excellent post, Ed, but do you really think any of these folks are going to listen? I have yet to meet a liberal who let the facts get in the way of their current narrative, regardless of its inanity or triteness.

College Prof on April 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Ditto. It’s utterly confounding and frustrating.

Midas on April 11, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Ed just wanted to tell you my 18 year old daughter going Ivy this fall read this as I had printed this out and left it on the table. I was working on the computer and she yelled over “who wrote this” I told her and she said it was awesome. Wanted to let you know you are reaching people.

tim c on April 11, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Very well spoken Ed… Good for you! I have passed this essay (with your name attached of coarse) to the 2K people on my email roster. Very worthy read indeed.

Keemo on April 11, 2010 at 8:52 PM

I was there on Thursday for Newt’s talk.

The reason Amnesty International had protestors is they had a series of seminars at the Marriot planned for the same weekend in New Orleans. No one had to make a special trip.

barnone on April 12, 2010 at 10:58 AM