Our politicians and our press have become too loose with "rights talk." Everything is now a "right." The "right" to work. The "right" to health care. The "right" to a own a home. Each and every one of these "rights" is actually a restriction on liberty.
Our Constitution provides for liberty because it focuses on true rights -- negative rights. Negative rights are rights created by restraining others from treating you in a certain way. The right to free speech exists because we restrict the government from encroaching upon free speech. The right to bear arms exists because we restrict the government from taking away guns (or should, in any case). The right to life exists because we restrict citizens from murder.
Positive rights are something else entirely: They are rights created by forcing others to engage in certain behavior. The right to work, for example, requires someone else to give you a job. The right to health care requires someone else to provide health care for you. These are not true rights, but tyrannical impositions, taking from Party A and giving to Party B.
No country that focuses more on positive rights than negative rights can remain truly free for long. Negative rights provide a space in which individuals can pursue happiness; positive rights impose crushing burdens on some for the benefit of others.
Sen. Bunning is standing up for negative rights -- the same underlying rights that provide the framework for our system of government. His opponents are standing up for positive rights, suggesting that some of us, the employed, owe something to the unemployed -- or worse, that future generations owe something to today's unemployed.
Everyone sympathizes with the unemployed, of course. But many of those who are living off the unemployment program affected by Bunning's stand have been on the unemployment lines for over a year at this point -- at minimum, everyone affected has been on unemployment for at least six months. We simply cannot keep extending unemployment benefits indefinitely by calling on imaginary "rights" derived from depriving others. That is not only a betrayal of those who must pay, but a betrayal of our founding principles.
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