Friday, June 25, 2004

Opportunities Not Rights

The past couple of days at the Volokh Conspiracy there has been a series of articles about FDR's proposal for a second Bill or Rights. These are the rights listed in the first link:

"The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education."

Following the links will take you to a discussion on so-called "constitutive commitments" that FDR is supposedly naming. None of the conspirators has directly commented on the rights themselves but something about them strikes me as horribly wrong, and I'm shocked that no one else (at the Conspiracy) has pointed it out. There is no Constitutional basis for ANY of these, with the possible exception of the anti-monopoly "right" being an outgrowth of the interstate commerce clause. I'm no Constitutional scholar, but the only possible justification of these is meeting the "provide for the common welfare" part of the big C (and that would be a HUGE stretch).

Reading the list, it is clear that FDR is proposing Socialism in the Swedish sense (a hop and a skip [but no jump] from Communism). The anti-monopoly one is the only one I have no objection to, the rest do not qualify as "rights". This is not Europe, people have the OPPORTUNITY for a job, a nice home, good medical care, education and so on. No citizen has the "right" to even eat if they are unwilling to work for it (in my opinion, with the obvious exemption of children, the elderly, and sick people [who may be willing but unable]). This is America and these supposed "rights" sound way too much like the EU Constitution. See the following as examples from the EU Constitution that sound just like FDR's proposals:

"Article II-14: Right to education
1. Everyone has the right to education and to have access to vocational and continuing training.
2. This right includes the possibility to receive free compulsory education.

Article II-34: Social security and social assistance
3. In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises and respects the right
to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack
sufficient resources, in accordance with the rules laid down by Union law and national laws
and practices.

Article II-35: Health care
Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical
treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human
health protection shall be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and

This list would be a recipe for disaster. First, it would bankrupt the country as the government would have to vastly increase in size, raising taxes and/or the national debt. Second, it sets-up all kinds of powerful dis-incentives to improve your lot in life, as the big G would have to give you everything you needed to live (and live well). Socialism has NEVER and will never work, let's kick it to the dust-bin of history and move-on.

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