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What are rights?

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What are rights?

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Editor’s Note: This was written to introduce the idea of rights to the Young Statesman.

What are rights? There are two types or rights: Negative rights and positive rights. If you’ve ever heard the Ten Commandments, you’re familiar with Negative Rights. Thou shalt not…. Negative rights make you refrain from encroaching on the person or property of another.

RightsThou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Or as Libertarians like to say: Do not encroach upon the person or property of another. Simple, no? These rights don’t require you to Do anything. Only to refrain. A negative right essentially protects you from the encroachment of another person, a group, and the State. The negative right tells you that you can expect not to be subject to violence or coercion.

Negative rights are based on the idea of ownership. You own yourself and you own your property. No one has the right to infringe upon your life or your liberty or your property because they properly belong to you. For a negative right to be violated, one person, group, or State must encroach upon another. (Thou shalt not kill apparently doesn’t apply to tornadoes or earthquakes so if you’re killed by a tornado we don’t say that your rights have been violated.)

If you’ve ever heard someone argue that all people have the right to healthcare, education, food, shelter, or clothing they were making an argument for Positive rights. Positive rights make everyone responsible for providing one another with goods, services, and resources. Positive rights negate the principle of ownership. Every single argument for Positive rights without exception, no matter how kindly intended or reasonable, is an attack on self ownership and property.

Positive rights are based on the principle that we do Not own ourselves nor do we own our property. Therefore access to the property and person of another without their consent–theft and servitude–is fair and reasonable.

Positive rights require that you Do something. This is a violation of the principle of self-ownership. If I own myself, I am not required to Do anything at the behest of another. A Positive right guarantees the encroachment of another person, a group, and the State against your person and property. You will be subject to violence and coercion if you violate the right of another to your labor and property.

Constitutionally, the preservation of Negative rights is the purview of the State. Negative rights are ancient and history has shown that despots violate them first by claiming the ‘general welfare’ or ‘common good’ is being served and after establishing that the people will tolerate their breach they will do away with them in all but name.

They Said It… P. J. O’Rourke, Nick Gillespie, And More!

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Senator Rand Paul

RAND PAUL ON WHY WE SHOULD MINIMIZE GOV’T:
“You want to minimize how much government we have because government frankly isn’t good at anything.” — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tweet, July 19, 2014.

P.J. O’ROURKE ON LEGISLATING PERSONAL MORALITY: 

P.J. O'Rourke

“Imagine trying to make the Ten Commandments into laws. There goes Hollywood Buddhism, representative art, golf on Sunday, the language I use during golf on Sunday, most sex, Wall Street, fibbing to escape the Tupperware party next door, and envying your boss’s Porsche. And we’d all be jailed for putting mom in the nursing home.” — P.J. O’Rourke, “Up To A Point: My Problem With People Who Agree With Me,” The Daily Beast, July 20, 2007.

Nick GillespieBACK TO IRAQ:
“[T]roops — well, advisers — are going back to Iraq, six years after this president was elected on a promise to get us out of there.” — Nick Gillespie, “After Bipartisan Bush-Obama Blundering, Let’s Try a Libertarian Foreign Policy,” The Daily Beat, July 16, 2014.


GOV’T VS THE POOR:

Cory Massimino“How do states harm poor people? Oh let me count the ways… patent and copyright laws, which impede competition, immigration restrictions, which lock people out of opportunities, licenses, which prevent people from entering the market, regulation that is often originated in rent seeking, the money monopoly, which helps large banks and currency manipulators, credit laws, which crush small banks through capitalization requirements, tariffs, which protect large companies from foreign competition, transportation, which helps big box corporations through highway subsidies, urban sprawl policies, which enrich construction companies, research subsidies, which hook the public on risky investments, limited liability laws that protect large corporations from lawsuits, labor laws that restrict the ability of unions to defend their workers, bailouts that directly redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, eminent domain, which rewards land to political donors, a tax code that can be gamed by the wealthy, the military industrial complex that enriches weapons manufacturers, and more.” — Cory Massimino, “The Conscience of an Anarchist: A Review,” Center for a Stateless Society, May 30th, 2014.

UH-OH:

David Letterman“According to a new study, the largest producer of oil is now the United States. So you know what that means — any day now we’ll be invading ourselves.” — David Letterman, July 11, 2014.

 

REAL BREAKING NEWS:
“They want to make it so the president can instantly Jimmy Falloninterrupt TV broadcasts whenever there’s breaking news. Then Obama said, ‘And I mean REAL breaking news, not that CNN stuff.’” — Jimmy Fallon, July 15, 2014.

POWER OF THE PEN:
“House Speaker John Boehner is threatening to sue President Obama for using executive actions to create laws, instead of going through Congress first. Then Obama shrugged and made a new law that you can’t sue the president.” — Jimmy Fallon, July 7, 2014.

NOTED AND REQUOTED

LIBERTARIANISM:
Murray Rothbard“The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (‘aggress’) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.” — Murray Rothbard, from his classic 1963 essay “War, Peace and the State,” recently requoted by Sheldon Richman.