Not long ago, I was having a gathering of about eight people at my house. The last guy to show up walked right into my kitchen and then protested because he couldn’t find any bottled water in the refrigerator. Next, he complained that we ate all the snacks before he showed up thirty-five minutes late. When he finally came into the living room to sit down, he asked what we were talking about. I told him we were talking about economics, which involves not just demand but supply. I joked that he wouldn’t have to demand any bottled water and snacks if he’d remembered to supply some, too. That drew a laugh from one of our mutual friends.
This trait of being more in love with consumption than production is one shared by most of my socialist colleagues in academia. They base their lives on the idea of taking “from each according to his ability” and giving “to each according to his need.” The problem is that they do a better job of articulating their needs than promoting their abilities. This is, of course, because socialists are generally short on abilities. They seek socialism because they think being guaranteed an average outcome is safer than trying to beat the average in a system based on merit, which is otherwise known as ability.
Anyone watching the 2008 presidential race has doubtless seen a similar dynamic among supporters of Barack H. Obama. Most of his supporters have been talking about rights without any mention of the notion of responsibilities. Like supply and demand, and need and ability, the terms rights and responsibilities are best understood in relation to one another. For example, I have a 2nd Amendment Right to Bear Arms that the government cannot simply take away from me on a whim. But I also have a responsibility for everything that occurs between the time I discharge a bullet and the time the bullet comes to its final stopping point.
But consider the following list of “rights” that supporters of Obama have recently told me that we all have:
Everyone has the right to a college education. I can’t imagine what it will be like as a college professor once Obama implements this one. I’ve been teaching to the occasional unqualified black and the occasional unqualified athlete for years. But now that everyone, including, presumably, the mentally retarded, has a right to a college degree, I might just retire and become a firearms instructor. Hopefully, Obama will not grant a Right to Firearms Education to both idiots and the insane. (Author’s Note: This one came from Obama himself).