Anda di halaman 1dari 16

individual rights are not subject to a public vote or are they?

How would this be different from a judge deciding whether someone is guilty or not? Wouldn't it be equally wrong that one person (or three or nine in the case of higher courts) gets to decide whether you are put in prison or executed? If it's the voting that is problematic you should be equally opposed to any type of judicial decision making. If instead you have a problem with the fact that juries consist of laymen, then how about a panel consisting of technocrats who have years of experience with the subject? Is a decision made by such a body suddenly superior and non-rights violating just because the people involved know better what they are talking about? That seems to be a very subjective criterion... I would suggest that whether a judicial proceeding is a violation of rights has a lot more to do with whether due process has been observed, and whether the law is objectively applied. There are many places around the world that use judges instead of juries to decide guilt and they aren't any more rights-respecting by default. It is almost entirely irrelevant. Finally, jury verdicts have to be unanimous for them to count, which sets a fairly high threshold. They are NOT majority votes, nor are they really 'public votes' either. I think I would rather be judged by a jury of my peers.

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). - Ayn Rand People say I am very outspoken. They do not know it has been a long process finding myself and my voice - a steady journey right from my parents' home and through school and university. I didn't always want to be a lawyer - I loved the idea of being a musician. But sometimes, you look around and realize the world is bigger than your dreams. Law school was a challenge for me. I was curious to see why people said it was tough. Challenges sometimes become your love and destiny. This is where I found my passion for advocacy of minority rights. This is where I am supposed to be. My first encounter with activism was on Facebook, in groups and on newspaper articles statuses; I would wake up and sleep to commenting. The responses I got through my comments shocked me, but what broke my passive activism cycle was the day BBC Africa asked me to speak on their show. This made me realize the power of speaking up and giving others the courage and hope to fight on. I learned how actions can bring quick change in a little place called Lokung in Northern Uganda. During an interview process, I met two women in the same predicament of having their husbands share their HIV treatment drugs with them. Within the few days I stayed in this village, I was able to have their husbands

agree to go to the clinics and get their own drugs, and this was through getting three housewives in the same village to have a meeting with these men and talk to them collectively. I have been in political protests. I have had my toes stepped on. I have been sexually assaulted. I have been labeled a lesbian for speaking up for gay rights. Its more rewarding than challenging to speak up and fight for what is right .The Uganda LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transexual and Intersex) community for instance had their second pride parade and had no interference from the police this August. This was good for the community. It was good to see how perspectives slowly change and this happened largely through rights activism. Its very important for people to be able to express themselves freely and speak up on issues that affect them, to criticize their government, because at the end of the day it is the people who make or break democratic societies. How unfortunate that just when I am starting to become the voice of and for change, the government is allowing the police to put a duct tape over my mouth. I have been a strong supporter of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), the ruling party in Uganda. While I am in awe of the role President Musevenis government has played towards womens empowerment unlike any other Ugandan regime, assenting to the Public Order Management Bill will mean shutting women like me up - people who are lobbying for equality of womens rights, regardless of sex, race and social background. Less than a week ago, you could sense the shock of opposition members as the proposed Public Order Management Bill 2011 was passed. The singing of the iconic We shall overcome song overpowered the judgment being read in the parliament. A very popular song that became a key anthem of the AfricanAmerican civil rights movement, it felt like we were back to that era. Does it ever end with Uganda?! There were chaos and the hunger for freedom was evident. The Ugandan parliament really passed the Public Order Management Bill 2011. The bill, simply stated, seeks to shut people up and silence my voice as an activist. Who am I after all? I am not a registered organization or trade union. I do not fall in the category of persons legally required to speak, assemble or think freely. Contentious Clause 8 of the Public Management Bill orders whoever wishes to hold a public meeting or gathering to first seek permission from the police. The bill says: A person shall notify the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) in writing about an intended demonstration or public meeting within three days prior to the event. The IGP can also authorize a police officer to issue permission for a public meeting on his behalf on the phone. Clause 7 of the POMB states that an organizer shall give notice in writing to the IGP of the intention to hold a public meetings at least 17 days before the meeting. The bill seeks to regulate public meetings and hence halt any form of immediate activism. This means delay in justice and keeping people in the dark about whats happening . The law states the procedure that must be followed when organizing such meetings or meetings and their legal implications.Failure to comply with this procedure of carrying out organized debates could lead to imprisonment. The Public Order Management Bill 2011 (POMB) is not something new to the Ugandan Parliament. So as an activist, I am left to wonder how we got to the point where the government is taking our rights away. This development has taught me the importance of sustaining your advocacy - never snooze or your opponent will attack when you least expect it. Curtailing freedom is nothing new in Uganda. Amid the confusion of debating bills that do not matter significantly, debate on the Public Order Management Bill may have been taken casually. Most people

assumed it would be shelved again. Article 92 of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda prohibits parliament to pass any law to alter the decision or judgment of any court. The constitutional court has quashed this bill before; it said police has no powers granting permission to Ugandans who would want to have an assembly to express their grievances. Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) leaders and human rights activists have objected to the bill. The bill is unconstitutional, a UHRC report said, adding that all clauses were in conflict with the principles of a democratic society that allows criticism of government policies and actions. The constitution of the Republic of Uganda is clear that power belongs to the people. The same constitution provides for freedom of speech and assembly in Article 29 which states that: 29. (1) Every person shall have the right to(a) freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media: (b) freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom in institutions of learning; (c) freedom to practice any religion and manifest such practice which shall include the right to belong to and participate in the practices of any religious body or organization in a manner consistent with this Constitution; (d) freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition; and (e) freedom of association which shall include the freedom to form and join associations or unions, including trade unions and political and other civic organizations. This bill affects human rights defenders like me; its goal is contrary to Paragraph 2 of the national objectives and directive principals of state policy of the constitution which says: the state shall be based on democratic principles which encourage the active participation of all citizens at all levels in their own governance. I am a law-abiding citizen and activist for minority rights of children and women ,including LGBTI rights. This therefore means that if the president assents to this bill, I will need police permission to carry out any form of demonstrations relating to the work I do. There is no way the police is going to accept an illegal assembly in the name of human rights activism. Following government directives takes more priority for any trained militant over basic rights; its what feeds his family. You cannot blame such a man but fight the system. A luta continua... The struggle continues We must bend the rules to move forward despite how compromised the government has become. We shall be here and stay put to keep them in check. I have many dreams. I acquired yet one more cause in the course of the last two weeks and that is for this bill not to become a law because I deserve the benefit and right to speak my mind for the society. If I make an honest application to the police for a meeting, I should be granted that permission. I envision future of equality for all as far-fetched as it may seem today. I fight for these rights because some laws do not serve the purpose. Either they are found wanting or the good ones have not been implemented properly. People have long lost faith in the judicial system. Therefore, there is an urgent need to start reinforcing these laws beginning from the grassroots and community levels. This needs me to speak up at the right time and right now instead of having to wait. All I am asking from my government is to let me raise my voice and speak for human rights.

Man's Rights
"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)." www.FreedomKeys.com

Dumb Voter No More . com What Really Goes On In Washington Philosophy of Liberty Where We Went Wrong What We Need To Do Limiting Politicians Democracy vs Freedom Man's Rights The Moral Foundation of a Free Society FOUNDATION of a FREE SOCIETY Good Govt Protects

The function and purpose of rights is to protect individuals from the encroachment of society and government in their lives.

To protect the individual's life, liberty, property from acts of encroachment by politicians and society. A right is something that justly belongs to someone and creates a claim against those who would deprive one of that right. One persons right implies an equivalent duty in others not to interfere unjustly with that right. In terms of these fundamental rights (called natural rights), we are all equalno one has more and no one less. Different Founding-era documents trace the origins of our rights to different sources. The Declaration of Independence says that men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, the Massachusetts Constitution asserts that all men are born free and equal, and the Virginia Declaration of Rights states that all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights. Whether our rights come from God or nature, the point is the same: They dont come from government. Government exists to secure our rights. Liberty Rights : are rights to act in certain ways , where everyone else has a duty not to interfere. Welfare Rights : are rights to certain things or services , where

Individual Rights Property and Government Freedom, Individual Rights, Capitalism Bankruptcy of a Mixed Economy FREEDOM and GOVERNMEN T Land of Liberty Society and Government Rewards of Economic Freedom Separation of Economics and State Flat Tax vs Sales Tax Library of Liberty Common Sense Laws What's Wrong With Conservative s FREE MARKETS and LIBERTY The Law and Plunder

certain other people have a duty to provide these things or services.

When we say that we hold individual rights to be inalienable, we must mean just that. Inalienablemeans that which we may not take away, suspend, infringe, restrict or violatenot ever, not at any time, not for any purpose whatsoever. You cannot say that man has inalienable rights except in cold weather and on every second Tuesday, just as you cannot say that man has inalienable rights except in an emergency, or mans rights cannot be violated except for a good purpose. Either mans rights are inalienable, or they are not. You cannot say a thing such as semi-inalienable and consider yourself either honest or sane. When you begin making conditions, reservations and exceptions, you admit that there is something or someone above mans rights, who may violate them at his discretion. Who? Why, societythat is, the Collective. For what reason? For the good of the Collective. Who decides when rights should be violated? The Collective. If this is what you believe, move over to the side where you belong and admit that you are a Collectivist.

LIFE...A right is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a mans freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a mans right to his own life. Life is a process of selfsustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated actionwhich means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life.

The right to life means that a man has the right to support his life by his own work (on any economic level, as high as his ability will carry him); it does not mean that others must provide him with the necessities of life.

LIBERTY...What is the basic, the essential, the crucial principle that

Politicians, Plunder, Wasteful Spending Constitution and Progressives Learning From Walter Williams POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY -ayn rand Capitalism Center Principles of a Free Society vs The Road to Socialism Government, Capitalism, Welfare Income Inequality World Poverty Free People Are Not Equal and Equal People Are Not Free CollectivismStatismSocialismCommunism FREE TRADE Bloody Politics - Why Socialism Failed Vision of a Free Society

differentiates freedom from slavery? It is the principle of voluntary action versus physical coercion or compulsion.

Freedom, in a political context, means freedom from government coercion. It does not mean freedom from the landlord, or freedom from the employer, or freedom from the laws of nature which do not provide men with automatic prosperity. It means freedom from the coercive power of the stateand nothing else.

Do not be misled . . . by an old collectivist trick which goes like this: there is no absolute freedom anyway, since you are not free to murder; society limits your freedom when it does not permit you to kill; therefore, society holds the right to limit your freedom in any manner it sees fit; therefore, drop the delusion of freedomfreedom is whatever society decides it is. It is not society, nor any social right, that forbids you to killbut the inalienable individual right of another man to live. This is not a compromise between two rightsbut a line of division that preserves both rights untouched. The division is not derived from an edict of societybut from your own inalienable individual right. The definition of this limit is not set arbitrarily by societybut is implicit in the definition of your own right. Within the sphere of your own rights, your freedom is absolute.

PROPERTY...The right to property means that a man has the right to take the economic actions necessary to earn property, to use it and to dispose of it; it does not mean that others must provide him with property. The right of free speech means that a man has the right to express his ideas without danger of suppression, interference or punitive action by the government. It does not mean that others must provide him with a lecture hall, a radio station or a printing press through which to express his ideas.

HAPPINESS...Observe, in this context, the intellectual precision of

Proper Government Foreign Policy Government Spending Global Capitalism Collectivism vs Individualism Taxes Can Destroy Capitalism and Selfishness ManGovernmentLibertyTyranny The Basic Issue--Mixed Economy-Seven Principles Individual Rights Life , Liberty , Property Politicians and the Economy Rights and Limited Government Good Sites to Visit Vices and Crimes - A Better Philosophy

the Founding Fathers: they spoke of the right to the pursuit of happinessnot of the right to happiness. It means that a man has the right to take the actions he deems necessary to achieve his happiness; it does not mean that others must make him happy.

The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness means mans right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own private, personal, individual happiness and to work for its achievement, so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that man cannot be forced to devote his life to the happiness of another man nor of any number of other men. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a mans existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness. It is not society or government that forbids you to ...

1) steal .. it is the person's right to his property that makes stealing wrong 2) enslave .. it is the person's right to his liberty that makes slavery wrong 3) murder .. it is the person's right to his life that makes murder wrong

Each person's right to - life, liberty, property - makes it wrong for society or government to encroachupon these rights.

No one has the right to initiate force against another person.

But each person has the right to defend his - life, liberty, property against those who initiate force.

The recognition of individual rights implies three things: first, that

Immigration Constitutiona l Primer #7 Property Rights Right to Own Guns Majority Limited and Pursuit of Happiness POLITICS and FREEDOM The American Revolution Classical Liberalism Politics and Plunder Welfare and Charity What Is Money Seperating Money and State Separating School and State POLITICS PART 2 Taxes and Property The Anatomy of the State American Government Idea's Good Quotes

each man must accept full responsibility for governing his own life; second, that no man should be coerced into sacrificing his liberty or property in order to satisfy someone elses needs or wants; and third, that mans only reciprocal social obligation is a negative obligationto not violate the rights of others. This is what it means to live in a free and civilized society.

Noted economist Walter Williams says, Two-thirds of the federal budget consists of taking property from one American and giving it to another. Were a private person to do the same thing, wed call it theft. When government does it, we euphemistically call it income redistribution, but thats exactly what thieves do redistribute income. It is not only immoral but ineffective as a national policy.

Two thousand years ago, the Roman statesman Cicero observed that democracies usually choose a leader who curries favor with the people by promising them other mens property. George Bernard Shaw said, A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul. And there will always be more Pauls than Peters. So in a democracy, politicians will campaign for the Paul votes, at the expense of the rights of the productive minority, and the economy will be worse off as will the majority of Pauls, who will not experience the job opportunities, better products and services, and other benefits created by the entrepreneurial minority. What is a right? A right is a gift from God that extends from our humanity. Thinkers from St. Thomas Aquinas, to Thomas Jefferson, to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II have all argued that our rights are a natural part of our humanity. We own our bodies, thus we own the gifts that emanate from our bodies. So, our right to life, our right to develop our personalities, our right to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, our right to worship or not worship, our right to travel, to defend ourselves, to use our own property as we see fit, our right to due process -- fairness -- from the government, and our right to be left alone, are all rights that stem from our humanity. These are natural rights that we are born with. The government doesn't give them to us and the government doesn't pay for them and the government can't take them away, unless a jury finds that we have violated

ABORTION , Questions and Answers Learn Economics Here Three Youngsters Drown INCOME for LIFE OUR LORD'S PROPHECY PREDICTED AND FULFILLED JESUS CAME BACK FUTURISM, FIGURATIVE PRETERISM and LITERAL PRETERISM by W. Hibbard WERE THE APOSTLES FALSE PROPHETS? by M. Fenemore Lee's Bio GUESTBOOK & LINKS

someone else's rights. What is a good? A good is something we want or need. In a sense, it is the opposite of a right. We have our rights from birth, but we need our parents when we are children and we need ourselves as adults to purchase the goods we require for existence. So, food is a good, shelter is a good, clothing is a good, education is a good, a car is a good, legal representation is a good, working out at a gym is a good, and access to health care is a good. Does the government give us goods? Well, sometimes it takes money from some of us and gives that money to others. You can call that taxation or you can call it theft; but you cannot call it a right. A right stems from our humanity. A good is something you buy or someone else buys for you. Now, when you look at health care for what it is, when you look at the US Constitution, when you look at the history of human freedom, when you accept the American value of the primacy of the individual over the fleeting wishes of the government, it becomes apparent that those who claim that healthcare is a right simply want to extend a form of government welfare. When I make this argument to my Big Government friends, they come back at me with... well, if people don't have health insurance, they will just go to hospitals and we will end up paying for them anyway. Why should that be? We don't let people steal food from a supermarket or an apartment from a landlord or clothing from a local shop. Why do we let them take healthcare from a hospital without paying for it? Well, my Big Government friends contend, that's charity. They are wrong again. It is impossible to be charitable with someone else's money. Charity comes from your own heart, not from the government spending your money. When we pay our taxes to the government and it gives that money away, that's not charity, that's welfare. When the government takes more from us than it needs to secure our freedoms, so it can have money to give away, that's not charity, that's theft. And when the government forces hospitals to provide free health care to those who can't or won't care for themselves, that's not charity, that's slavery. That's why we now have constitutional chaos, because the government steals and enslaves, and we outlawed that a long time ago. .. Judge Andrew Napolitano www.lewrockwell.com The function and purpose of rights is to protect individuals from the

encroachment of government in their lives. If new powers, spending, controls, administrators and authorized use of force enable government to take things from some people to supply to others with a "right" to them, then no real rights are left to us. www.capitalismmagazine.com

What Rights Are


What does it mean to have rights? A right is an absolute political claim. If you have right to some land, other people ought to permit you to have it. If you have a right to vote, nobody should prevent you from voting. If animals have rights, then we mean that no one ought to harm them. Rights are political claims because they pertain to what the law can or cant force you to do, and what it can or cant forceothers to do for you. Rights are not a physical property of human beings. They arent encoded in your DNA, rooted in your hair follicles, or readable via an iris-scanner. But they arent just a moral fashion statement, either: its wrong to say someone has a right simply to cheer for whatever the right stands for. I think it would be grand if people would travel to Mars. However, that alone doesnt give someone a right to travel to Mars. Moreover, if you have a right, you have a right to do wrong, too. Your right to vote isnt just a right to vote for good candidates: its a right to vote for the bad ones, too, if thats your choice. How can you tell a pseudo-right from a real one? In fact, rights are principles. Properly understood, they are objective moral principles that provide the foundation for a political-legal order. No law should violate rights. Rights are self-evident and unalienable because they are derived from facts about human nature. They are principles defining the fundamental freedoms and responsibilities that people need to have in society, if we are to live and flourish. Rights pertain to individuals, not groups. They derive from the basic nature of each individual human. So, they do not pertain directly at the group level of, say, country, tribe, religion, or race, because all those groupings are made up of individuals. Individuals can change the groups they belong to, but the groups cant make do without individuals. Most fundamentally, it is individuals who think, act, and choose, not groups. Moral responsibility lies within individuals first, and with groups only by aggregation. It is individuals who live and die, suffer or achieve happiness. Find a happy club, town, office, or school, and youll find happy individuals there.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness


Ayn Rand was not the first, nor the last, person to understand the meaning of individual rights. Individual rights are a basic thread in classical liberalism and libertarianism. But Rand was rights clearest, most

passionate and most systematic explicator. Following and expanding on the arguments of John Locke, Rand, like the Founders, understood that individual rights were unitary: they identify aspects of the freedom one needs to act, if one is to live in harmony with others. The right to liberty is the right to be free to act as one chooses. Thus life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not a well-meaning but vacuous bromide. It is, in fact, a pretty precise specification. The right to life is the right not to be killed. It is the right not to be injured or harmed in ones body. The right to liberty is the right to be free to act as one chooses. This is crucial to ones life because it is through ones productive work that one gains the goods one needs to maintain ones life. The right to the pursuit of happiness is the right to aim for independent goals. This is what seeking happiness consists in, and to succeed in being happy is to succeed in living.

Property
In 1774, the Continental Congress summarized the three basic rights as life, liberty, and property in their Declaration of Colonial Rights. And well they should have, because without the right to property, no right is worth all that much. If you have the right to your life, but not the right to your own food, you wont live long. If you have the right to liberty, but are not free to create and own things, then your choices wont do you much good. And good luck pursuing happiness if happiness is misunderstood to be totally disconnected from any physical things you might take joy in making; or want for their own sake; or need as means to a valued goal. If you have the right to your life, but not the right to your own food, you wont live long. Indeed, what is freedom of speech, if you have no right to own a press, or own a home or hall where you can speak to others, or to own the means of transmitting your ideas? Such is the travesty of rights-talk today that while all bow before the words freedom of speech, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold bill) has made it illegal for most citizens to spend their own money to circulate a political message, beyond certain very narrowly set limits. The right to property is the basis of industrial civilization. It allows us to live in a society based on trade, where the exchanges we have are by mutual consent. Property is the basis of a positive sum, win-win society, because if you have a right to your property you gain from every purchase you make or contract you signor at least, it is your choice whether to take part or not in such ventures, and you remain uniquely responsible for yourself.

Property Rights Solves Problems

(1) If each parent were given an education voucher to pay for education [or, even better--a tax credit], those parents wishing prayers, or those against prayers in school, could enroll their children in the school that meets their preference. Thus, conflict would be eliminated. Of course, a superior solution would be getting government entirely out of education.

(2) Private property would solve the smoking issue. Suppose you owned a restaurant, and you didn't wish to permit smoking. How would you like it if people used the political system to enact laws that forced you to permit smoking? I'm sure you'd consider it tyranny, and I'd agree. But there's symmetry. It's just as much tyranny to use the political system to enact laws to force a restaurant owner who wished to permit smoking to ban smoking. The liberty-oriented solution might be to post a sign saying you don't permit smoking, and customers wishing otherwise wouldn't enter. The same principle would apply to restaurant owners who wished to permit smoking. I fear that too many Americans have contempt for the principles of liberty and opt for solutions that employ the political arena to forcibly impose their wills on others. If that's the preferred game, then those Americans shouldn't whine when others employ the same tactic to impose their wills.

Take for example , the right of free speech. Freedom of speech is supposed to mean the right of everyone to say whatever he likes. But the (neglected) question is: Where? Where does a man have this right? In short, he has this right either on his own property or on the property of someone who has agreed to allow him on the premises. But he has no right to do it on my property without my permission. As one who makes decisions over my own life and property, I am responsible for the consequences of my actions. My authority ends at my boundary line. If I want to make decisions regarding your property, I must enter into a contract with you to do so...B. Shaffer Money and property are the fruit of one's labor, and the ownership rights attendant therein is the (root) of freedom and prosperity...G. Giles As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights...James Madison Three Basic Property Rights 1. the right to ( acquire ) property 2. the right to ( use ) property

3. the right to ( dispose ) of property in any Peaceful, Voluntary, and Honest manner Under ( common law ) people cannot ( acquire, use, or dispose ) of their property in ways that damage or encroach upon their neigbors property. Rights of active use end when they encroach on the property ( rights ) of others. Thus, common law properly ( limits ) a persons - property rights. Ever seen two children quarreling over a toy? Katherine Klemp tells how she created ( peace ) in her family by assigning property rights to toys. As a young mother she often brought toys home. She saw how the fuzziness of ownership easily led to arguments. If everything belonged to everyone, then each child felt he had a ( right ) to use anything. To solve the problem she introduced two simple rules; (1) never bring anything into the house without assigning clear ownership to one child (2) the owner is not required to share. Now - property rights - not parents, settle the arguments. Property rights actually promoted sharing since the kids were ( secure ) in their ownership and knew they would always get their toys back ... Janet Beales

Freedom from Force


The three or four basic rights-in-one (or more: subdivide as needed) are rights to freedom to act. They identify a range of freedom one would have even if no other people were around. Indeed, if you lived life as a 21stcentury Robinson Crusoe, you would have total freedom to think and act, and you could hold and keep any goods you could find or make. However, we are social animals. We can benefit so much from being in society that only the worst kind of community could drive us to try to live alone. But the point remains: the individual rights of life, happiness, liberty, and property preserve for you in the social context the freedom and responsibility that is yours in nature. And they deny you only the phony rights you would never have on your own: to kill and injure others, to take from others, or to imprison or enslave others. In society, individual rights identify areas of freedom that everyone can enjoy equally. Thus, in society, individual rights identify areas of freedom that everyone can enjoy equally. The obligations they impose on others are negative: to not interfere, to not coerce anyone. This is the basic principle that unifies all the individual liberty rights; it is the basic principle of a society of traders. Ayn Rand stated this unifying principle behind rights in the clearest terms in This is John Galt Speaking in Atlas Shrugged:

Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man my initiatedo you hear me? No man may start the use of physical force against others. It is physical force to assault or murder someone. It is physical force to restrain a person and deprive him of his liberty. Likewise, it is physical force that you must use to cut a person off from the things that will make him happy. It takes physical force to deprive someone unjustly of his property. Notice that respecting individual rights is not pacifism. To respect rights is never to initiate force against others; to defend rights often requires that we use force against those who, by attacking or robbing us, show their contempt for our freedom. There are harms people can do to each other that dont involve force. But the difference is this: force hits at ones very ability to live, while other harms are more psychological or contextual. It hurts, for example, to have your heart broken by a lover who betrays you. Yet, if you retain your liberty you can pick up the pieces, recover, and seek new hope for love. Many economic harms dont involve the initiation of force. Its horrible to lose your job, for instance, but if all that happens is that you are fired, or your employer collapses, you retain your liberty. In that case, you can put your skills to work supporting yourself. And as long as others retain their liberty, you can offer them your talents and productive ability, looking for a new win-win position. And of course liberty, especially the freedom to own and use property, gives everyone strong reasons to seek out waste and lost opportunities, and to find new and ever better ways of producing the goods we need. This expands opportunity and wealth for everyone. Its no accident that the societies with the most economic freedomlike Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the U.S.are also the richest, with the lowest unemployment rates.

Rights vs. Pseudo-rights


Sadly, since the rise of socialism and the progressive Left early in the twentieth century, the language of rights has become contaminated with a nearly endless wish-list of worthy-sounding goals. There is nowhere better to start than the Four Freedoms championed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and honored in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The language of rights has become contaminated with a nearly endless wish-list of worthy-sounding goals. The Four Freedoms are: 1) freedom of speech and expression, 2) freedom of religion, 3) freedom from want, and 4) freedom from fear. The

first pair are extensions of the basic liberty rights: if you have liberty of person and property, then surely you have the freedom to hold whatever beliefs you care to and to communicate whatever you are willing and able to. But the second pair cannot be rights at all. To be alive is to have needs and to always be able to benefit from something more. Only the dead are truly free from want. Of course, Roosevelt meant by freedom from want that somehow people have a right to some basic sustenance, shelter, and some other preferred list of basic goods. But what about the people who must provide these things? They must suffer unjust taxation, conscription, or regulatory exactionto force them to produce and distribute the basic goods. And apparently, once they have received the basic goods, people are no longer supposed to feel fear. Only a very poor student of human psychology could make such an assumption. Peoples emotions follow largely from what they believe and value. So fear can no more be eliminated from life than can value and belief. In Roosevelts Promised Land, will students fear no test results? Will marketers fear no shortfall in sales? Will presidential candidates never again fear the results from Florida? Will all dogs be muzzled so that no child feels fear at a bark? A so-called right isnt worth the name if it consists in stealing the freedom of others. But it kills clear thinking completely to claim as a right that which could never exist. It is simple to tell a pseudo-right from a real one. Ask: what initiation of force is involved in violating this right? And: who must act to enjoy this right? If force must be initiated by, or on the part of, the rights-holder, it is a pseudo-right. If others, not the rights-holder, must do the work for the rights-holder to enjoy his freedom, it is no freedom at all.

Rights and Governance


To read the press or study politics today, one might think that government was a special social organization with the unique power to express the will of the people. But in fact, government is the organization which controls the guns. It is government which sets the effective rules controlling the use of force within its jurisdiction. These rules are the law. It is the law which determines what freedoms one has in practice, and what actions are subject to reprisal by government forces like the police and the military. Government is the organization which controls the guns. Rights are foundational to any liberal system of government. Cementing rights principles into the basic law of the land is the only way to ensure that the law never encroaches on our natural and proper freedoms. The degree to which the law respects and defends rights is our best measure of the amount of freedom a government allows. No human institution should exist except to promote human life and happiness. This applies with especial urgency to governments, because their coercive powers

have traditionally been abused to rob, kill, and enslave. The worst crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by governments or groups fighting to become governments: consider the Nazi Holocaust, or the killing fields of Cambodia, or the Taliban misrule in Afghanistan. By contrast, the countries most propitious to life, whose populations have the longest average life expectancies, tend to be those that come closest to fully respecting the objective individual rights. It is as urgent today as it ever was that our governments recognize and respect our rights. The freedom we need to live and be happy, the freedom that modern civilization arose from and depends on, is under pressure from all sides. Conservative factions on the right demand the government curtail freedom of conscience, and insist that the state promote faith in God. Interest groups clamor for economic regulations and subsidies to support their jobs or pet projectsand to hell with the rest of the country that will have to pay for it. Leftists demand more and great, free goodies subsidized health care, subsidized food, subsidized green technologies, subsidized housing. Never mind who is to pay for it. Populists demand restraints on trade. Environmentalists want bans on using land. Selfproclaimed defenders of democracy work to make it harder and harder for outsiders to organize politically, and easier for office holders to avoid serious election-year challenges. Against this tide of pragmatism and special pleading stands our real need for freedom. The individual rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness are, when properly understood, the standard by which judge our government, and the ideal toward which reform should aim. www.atlassociety.org