Our Rights are Threatened by All These New Rights

I have shared before the main problem with all these new fake "rights"  (e.g. right to healthcare, right to a job, etc.).  Our original Constitutional rights were merely checks on government - they said the government could not pass laws to prevent us from doing certain things or invade our homes without some sort of due process, etc.  But these new rights require that some previously free individual be coerced into providing money or labor or both to supply others with these new rights.    I often use the desert island test - if you can't have the right alone on a desert island, its not a right.

But what I had not realized until recently is that many of these new fake rights also share in common a level of compulsion on the beneficiary  (not just the payer and provider).  For example, you have the right to bear arms and engage in free speech, but you are not required to own a gun or speak in public.   But you will be required to use, and pay for, your new "right" to health care, at the threat of a term in prison.   In this light, its doubly perverse to call something like health care a "right."  How can something which government uses compulsion on the payers, the providers, and the users be associated with so clean and moral a notion as a "right."  Freedom of religion is a right.  Health care is a want.

I got to thinking about this even more with "the right to a job at a fair wage," embodied in such laws as the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Proponents of such a right would consider it a victory that employers have been compelled to not pay less than $7.25 an hour for labor.   But the beneficiary is the subject of compulsion as well.  This law also means that I cannot sell my labor at less than $7.25, even if I am willing (even eager) to do so.    This means that if my choices are to sell my labor at $6.00 or for nothing, the government compels me to be unemployed.  My son is 16 and would like a retail job, preferably around books this summer.  Having real job experience and customer contact experience, for him at his age, is worth enough that he would likely work for free.  But he can't work for free, because the Fair Labor Standards Act only allows compensation to be valued in monetary terms - non-monetary benefits like skills improvements don't count.  So, given the economy, my son will likely not work next summer.  All for his own good, of course.

  • Horspool

    I'm not arguing with you, but beg leave to suggest a way for you to help your son evade the (evil) minimum-wage restrictions and gain some experience: a business proprietor doesn't have to pay himself minimum wage. Stake your son to a (very) small business, housed inside another business' facility. E.g., rent 20 square feet inside someone else's convenience store for your son to operate a newsstand in. Pay the owner of the convenience store to act as a "business consultant" to your son. Ensure that the landlord (temporarily) decides he doesn't want to separately stock books and magazines. Have your son contract with the landlord for heat, light, furniture, "financial services," etc. Your son can keep simple books and if he shows a net profit he can keep it. If he doesn't you can write off the investment (well, maybe not on taxes, but you get what I mean).

  • Peter

    Another option if your alright with your son traveling is to have him work in a resort area that typically has living expenses so high that most businesses are in such desperate need of labor that minimum wage would be considered a bargain to the employer. Your son wont get to keep much (if any) of what he earns but he will get job experience.

  • Anna

    Your son can volunteer at the local public library, like I do. Right now I do two hours a week and enjoy interacting with patrons, especially the little kids who are just starting to read. I also help in shelving books and pulling them for inter-library requests. There's also the added incentive to read more books. When checking in returned books, I often find interesting stuff I take home. The most recent one that my husband and I enjoyed is "Nero Wolfe's Cook Book." I never even knew that book existed until someone returned it.

    As for the main thrust of your post re "new rights," I couldn't agree more.

  • me

    Spot on where the distinction between a new 'right' and a compulsion is concerned.

    However, one point in favor of new rights: I don't believe that it's always flawed to decided that as a nation, we want something to be a right (we seem to be in the business of retiring existing ones just fine). Random example: There is an argument to be made that providing basic medical care (shin an arm, prescribe an antibiotic, rescuscitation) on a free (ie tax-paid) nationwide basis can be cheaper and more efficient than the current US system of interlocked insurance and private hospitals with employer-financed healthcare (and vastly inflated prices for single payers).

  • Not Sure

    "There is an argument to be made that providing basic medical care (shin an arm, prescribe an antibiotic, rescuscitation) on a free (ie tax-paid) nationwide basis can be cheaper and more efficient than the current US system of interlocked insurance and private hospitals with employer-financed healthcare (and vastly inflated prices for single payers)." - me

    IOW, one government regulated system can be cheaper than another government regulated system. Wouldn't surprise me a bit.

  • Michael

    What just came to me is that the government is going to enforce health insurance coverage trough the IRS. Several issue come up.

    Not everyone in the country is on the IRS's books.
    Illegals often use other peoples SS number to get work.
    Criminals file fake returns to steal people's refunds.

    If this passes, a lot of people are going to need tax and criminal lawyers just to deal with the IRS problems.

  • http://www.ameriturf.com George

    When they raised the minimum wage to $7.25 it was often said that this action would result in higher unemployment, with young and unskilled labor being the hardest hit. Now that this prediction has become reality, I have seen no mention anywhere that higher minimum wage could be a contributor to unemployment. There is zero discussion about repealing it. I fear for a generation of youth that become adults without ever having held a meaningful job. Also why should the minimum wage be the same in NYC as it is in rural Texas? Cost of living is radically different. The wisdom of the elites escapes me yet again.

  • http://www.devilish-details.blogspot.com Methinks

    Your son can volunteer at the local public library, like I do. Right now I do two hours a week and enjoy interacting with patrons, especially the little kids who are just starting to read.

    See, that just irritates me. You can volunteer at a public library or a food bank, but you can't volunteer at a business of your choice.

    Michael's right. Your son doesn't have to be officially employed. Maybe he can work out a scheme with a local small bookshop owner (if there are any left) and agree to take compensation in books and cash. Hopefully, nobody will call the authorities.

    BTW, I don't know if these kinds of labour cases ever get a jury trial. But, if they do and you happen to be a juror, you don't have to deliver a verdict consistent with the law. You can use the process of jury nullification to deliver a verdict that you think is fair, regardless of the law. In this way, Juries can actually get rid of statutes they disagree with. NO court will ever tell you about this and if you want to stay on the jury don't blurt out that you know about jury nullification in voir dire.

    More on jury nullification here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification

  • perlhaqr

    There is zero discussion about repealing it. I fear for a generation of youth that become adults without ever having held a meaningful job.

    Well, you see how good of a job our President and most of Congress is doing, never having held a real job.

  • Michael

    I don't think Congress changes the minimum wage for the betterment of the poor, many union contracts have ties to the minimum wage so upping it gives democrat's union buddies a raise for their vote.

    Our reps have to know it's a job killer. You can't vote in increase the minimum wage and return to your district only to find that the community can't afford to open pools and parks and not put 2 and 2 together. Most of these reps are lawyers who would have been trained in logic.

  • http://evilredscandi.blogspot.com Evil Red Scandi

    Can your son work as an intern, or do t3h f3dz disallow that as well?

  • Rick C

    "You can use the process of jury nullification to deliver a verdict that you think is fair, regardless of the law."

    That's assuming that you can convince the jury such a thing exists. The lawyers and judge will tell the jury there is no such thing.

  • Gil

    The U.S. Constitution failed for two reasons:

    1. It was designed so it could be amended (e.g. 16th Amendment).

    2. It allows for certain rights to disappear in times of "war and certain other emergencies". (e.g. habeas corpus as per Article 1, Section 9).

  • Jim

    Anyone who has hired a young worker lately knows that most kids don't know how to work. Get there on time, dressed neatly, pleasent attitude, etc.
    I think the minimum wage has something to do with it, but illegal immigration has to take a part of the blame also. Anyone know a 16 year old who mows lawns or works construction? Those jobs have disappeared for our teenagers. I've had five young men work for me in the last ten years, and had a bad experience with three of them.

  • Michael

    I wouldn't put direct blame on illegal immigration. Government is setting a minimum rate of pay that is drawing these people here. People willing to cross a river and travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to work show motivation.

    I would agree that many of the jobs open to me when I was in high school are gone. As for teens not knowing how to work, two words, helicopter parents.

  • Noumenon

    I often use the desert island test – if you can’t have the right alone on a desert island, its not a right.

    Well, there goes freedom of assembly.

    The desert island test is stupid -- it's like determining the natural rights for an ant by what he would be entitled to with no anthill. Humans are inherently social and don't exist alone on desert islands any more than singleton ants do. An ant bill of rights that calls for all ants to be fed and protected isn't unnatural just because drones can't feed themselves and workers can't fight.

  • sethstorm

    I wouldn’t put direct blame on illegal immigration. Government is setting a minimum rate of pay that is drawing these people here. People willing to cross a river and travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to work show motivation.
    --

    But they are illegal nonetheless. That's why I'm for stricter border control and penalties for businesses who employ these people or support those who do so(so they can't hide behind anybody).

    The best thing to do is to return them to the nation and make sure they never return, even if by deadly force.

  • Dave

    "The desert island test is stupid — it’s like determining the natural rights for an ant by what he would be entitled to with no anthill. Humans are inherently social and don’t exist alone on desert islands any more than singleton ants do. An ant bill of rights that calls for all ants to be fed and protected isn’t unnatural just because drones can’t feed themselves and workers can’t fight." Humans aren't ants.

  • Noumenon

    Well shit, I didn't realize that! Why have I been raising aphids in my back yard then?

    Humans also aren't spiders, or rhinoceroses, to pick two examples of truly solitary creatures that you could expect to lead a natural existence on a desert island. They are more similar to ants, inherently social creatures.

  • Keith

    Noumenon,

    I don't think you understand the concept of the 'desert island test' if you think it is stupid. The fact of the matter is you can have your 'right to assembly' on a desert island. The right to assembly is defined as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." There is nothing in there that says you have the right to create an assembly of 2 or more people, just that congress can not pass a law prohibiting your right to assemble.

    To understand how this applies in real life, if you say there is a 'right to healthcare' for example, you are stating that if you are sick or injured you have the right to be treated. You do not have this right if you are alone on a desert island because it requires someone to provide the care for you. The idea behind the desert island test is if it requires someone to do something for you it's not an actual 'right' it is the confiscation of one persons labor/money and redistribution to another person.

    There are no amendments to the constitution that require one person or group of persons to give/do something for another person. Not all of them may be particularly useful to you on a desert island and they may not be the easiest to utilize but they are all as applicable on a desert island as they are in any of the 50 states of the union.

  • me

    Thank you Noumenon for making a great point.

    Let's disregard the right of assembly on an island for a minute, the desert island test is stupid exactly because of the reason Noumenon spells out: it abstracts anything having to do with human-on-human interaction by the simple expedient of not having anyone else present.

    Rights get interesting precisely when they impinge on others, so all interesting scenarios are out by definition.

    Example: the desert island test allows for privacy or healthcare - you have the right to complete privacy (you are alone, so it nobody could observe you) and the absolute best healthcare that desert island has to offer (ok, not much due to absence of others ;).

    The only thing it's useful (due to lack of people) is that it clearly identifies any 'rights' that compel others to do things. But that's just a fraction of what constitutes rights, not a complete definition. And before someone chimes up about how that is exactly the point - consider how in real life, your right to a fair trial compels all sort of action in others.

  • Noumenon

    Keith almost had me convinced there but I will keep that right to a fair trial example tucked away for the next time this argument comes up.