I think that we’d all agree that:

  1. Humans have certain God-given, inalienable (unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor) rights.
  2. America’s government was designed expressly to protect those rights.

What Rights?

So if we have certain basic human rights, then the question would follow, what are those rights? Our Founding Fathers believed that among those rights were life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now, I wouldn’t say that I’m smarter than the Founding Fathers.

But apparently Bernie Sanders thinks he is.

Bernie believes that the Founding Fathers missed a couple things, such as the inalienable right to government payed for healthcare and free college.

This may have you wondering, how many basic human rights are there? After all, modern healthcare and college are relatively recent inventions in the grand scheme of things.

A basic human right implies that it’s basic, meaning when you strip away the frills and the non-necessities, you’re left with just the basics. According to Bernie Sanders, basic means your healthcare and college tuition.

But if it’s true, that free healthcare and college are “human rights” then why isn’t Senator Sanders advocating for free food and water for all Americans?

After all, humans can go a lot longer without hospitals and college than they can without food or water? There seems to be a priorities problem here.

We must learn the distinction between what is a right and what is a privilege.

Protect or Provide?

Government is designed to do one job – protect our rights. That is completely different from saying that government is to provide for those rights.

Let’s go back to food and water. No one will argue that every human has a right to life. You cannot live without food and water. Therefore you have a right consume food and water. But before you start your petition to Congress to provide for that right, you must remember that every right comes with a parallel responsibility.

You have the right to life, and you have the responsibility to find food and water and ingest it, or else you will die. Would you argue that your neighbor has the responsibility to go and get food for you? Do you then have a responsibility to go and get food for all your neighbors?*

You and I both have the right to bear arms. But does that mean government must provide everyone with munitions? You and I have the right to speak freely. Should government provide free wireless internet and smartphones so our voices can be heard? We have the right to security in our homes. Does that mean the government must provide homes in which to be secure?

We have a lot of rights. Our Founders did not try to list all the rights we have because they are far too numerous (and they had to hand-write everything back then, so we can cut them some slack). That’s why they codified the Ninth Amendment, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Arguing Assumptions

Anytime you’re debating policy, you have to realize the different levels of debate. We need to start at the beginning. Once you get to a certain level, you are accepting assumptions from the other side.

Bankrupt $

For instance, we could argue about the utter ridiculousness of Bernie’s “Medicare for All” plan based on the fact that it will bankrupt our already bankrupt nation. In other words, we don’t have any money.

“In a 2016 report on his presidential campaign’s “Medicare for All” plan, the Urban Institute estimated that the plan would cost $32 trillion over 10 years.”


Or we could argue efficiency. Should we send money directly from me to the person providing the service? Or should we send money from me, to third party, and then to the person providing the service? The third party will take a cut as the money changes hands. You can bet on that.

No Such Thing 

Or we could argue that there’s no such thing as free. That money comes from somewhere. Options for paying for his “Medicare for All” plan include:

“…a 7.5 percent payroll tax on employers, a 4 percent individual income tax and an array of taxes on wealthier Americans, as well as corporations.”

You’ve heard of trickle down economics? Well this is trickle down taxation. Taxes aren’t paid by the “wealthier Americans, as well as corporations.” They are able to offset those taxes, and pass the burden on down the line. In other words, you’ll end up paying for your “free” healthcare and college one way or the other.

We may have “free” healthcare and college. Except it’s not free. We just changing who we pay for those services. We’re still paying for them.

Back to Basics

And while all these arguments are sound and valid, they are arguing while accepting the assumption that it is government’s job to provide for our rights in the first place.

We need to take a step back. We need to start at the beginning. Then, and only then, will these debates actually accomplish something.

Jonathan Paine

Follow on Twitter: @painefultruth76

Let us know what you think: painefultruth1776@gmail.com


* Note: A common objection to this reasoning is that it would be morally wrong to say that everyone has a responsibility to provide for their own rights because there are some who cannot provide for their rights, e.g. a starving person, a person sick and bedridden, etc.

A starving person has the right to food and water, however if they lack the ability to perform their responsibility of providing for that right that is where individual responsibility comes into contact with responsibility for our fellow man. The fallacy in this argument is assuming that it is government’s job to fix this problem.

Who sees the needs of others? Government has no eyes or ears. Government is not a person with a heart, a brain and helping hands. We, as individuals, have a responsibility to help those in need.

I will point out as well, that this is a wholly moral argument and cannot be made without an admittance of the existence of right and wrong and some transcendent arbiter of said morals. So much for survival of the fittest. ~JP