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Can We Have Too Many Rights?

Saturday, April 4th, 2009
Posted in Education by Joel Gross

Is it possible that we have started to give ourselves too many rights?

Rights are legal or moral entitlements or permissions that are vitally important to theories of justice/law. Rights recognized by the government shape the way laws are written and enforced and are the core pillars for supporting government programs.

America was founded with a few basic rights outlined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. These rights are generally recognized as universally benefiical.‚  A few examples of these rights to refresh your memory are:

  • Life
  • Liberty
  • Pursuit of happiness
  • Bear arms
  • Free speech & press
  • Trial by jury
  • Excessive bail/punishment
  • Protection from unreasonable search & seizure
  • Due process
  • Powers of state & people
  • Protection of rights not specified

The final right pointed out (Protection of rights not specified in the Constitution or Bill of Rights) has helped give life to many more rights:

  • Consumer rights
  • Right not to starve
  • Right to have housing
  • Clean water
  • Clean air

Over the course of time, the definition of what rights are has changed from being certain freedoms and permissions granted to people to also include entitlements that other people must end up paying for.‚  Entitlements that come at the expense of others should never be considered rights in my opinion.‚  Rights are vitally important liberties reserved for every person and when we start tossing in entitlements that are not that important, we end up muddying the waters… if it is easy to add and remove an “entitlement right”, it becomes easier to actually remove real rights from people.

American citizens should have an extensive list of freedoms and permissions protected from government abuse, but entitlements should be reduced in order to better protect these rights.

What happens when people are given to many entitlements by the government? You end up living in a communist country like North Korea or China where the government “knows what’s best for you”.‚  Citizens of these countries have given up their true rights in exchange for promises of entitlements and have suffered enormously because of it.