A right to life, or no right to life?Submitted by farmer on Sat, 03/02/2013 - 08:27
There have been a number of posts/discussions started in what appears to be some kind of effort to justify some level of existence for the state, that is, government, and there seems to be a particular affection for the notion of "limited" government with the power of taxation.
In most of these discussions, reference is made to inalienable rights. This terminology, of course, is from Jefferson. What did he mean? Here are some things to consider, when evaluating/participating in such discussions.
1. Probably the most natural way to interpret Jefferson's notion of rights is that they are the ability to do or control certain things that lead to benefit for society.
This is a really important enlightenment idea: They were thinking about the manner in which society should be constructed, and asking the question: "What structures in society will lead to the most desirable outcome in terms of people getting along harmoniously, development of useful technology, a broadly recognized application of justice, and such things?"
2. When Jefferson spoke of these rights coming from the "Creator" he probably meant that the world has been created in such a way that these particular structures/rights/rules will lead to the best outcomes.
It's not clear that Jefferson (or many of the so-called founders) really believed in any notion of a personal God, much less the notion of "one true God" with power to actually personally do anything. Their view was that, at most, God had set up the world to work according to complicated rules which people could understand. Taking account of these mechanistic rules, people could change their behavior to produce better outcomes.
Thus, what he was asserting with the notion of unalienable (or inalienable) rights, was that if people want to have the best outcomes (or even reasonable outcomes) in a society, then these are freedoms which should be allowed to everyone and respected by everyone---at least pending some specific forfeiture. (Clearly, a person may not be allowed a right to life if his behavior in a society is antithetical to the existence of the society. Such behavior might be termed sociopathic---against society---or psychopathic---terminally wrong thinking.)
3. The main point I'd like to make is that the right to life includes what one produces with one's life. It includes what one produces with one's time. It includes the fruits of one's labor. Thus, any form of involuntary taxation is, simply, a violation of the right to life. It is a claim, obviously laid by someone, on a right which it would be better to respect.
4. Thus, all arguments starting with the premise that inalienable rights can only be present in the context of involuntary taxation, contradict the Declaration of Independence. It's that simple.
First of all, it's not really a question of whether those rights are "present." Their existence is not really the question at all. The question is whether or not they are respected. Involuntary taxation is a blatant disrespecting of the right to life.
5. The basic premise of the Constitution is to build a structure for the collection of involuntary taxes. It's basic purpose is to lay a claim on the lives of those subject to it, and the lives of those yet unborn who are the targets of its subjugation.
So, do you believe in the right to life or not? Is it best for society for that right to be respected or not? Every time you submit to the tenet that it's best for someone, or some group, to claim a portion of your life and the lives of others, you are rejecting the suggestion that the right to life be unalienable in your society.