Sunday, July 17, 2011

Goods and Rights

Noemie Emery writes a very good piece over at the Weekly Standard about the propensity of the Left to try to make a good, health care, for example, a right.  As she points out:
The problem is that...goods and rights are not the same things. People tend to concur upon rights (except for the speech rights of those who oppose them), and they do not depend upon others to supply and pay for their rights. With goods, there is always a political argument: about the value of the good, who is to get it and who is to pay. And all this comes down to the question of “fairness,” about which there is no end of disputation and grief.
Well said.

I will, however, quibble with her over this:
It was not wrong to have a fling with the welfare state sixty-five years ago, when it was a noble experiment that had not yet been attempted. It is wrong to ignore the evidence that in some ways it is failing, that the model set up has become unsustainable, and that renovations are needed if its critical functions are to survive.
Among some, too many I fear, the chief reason we must finally step up to the difficult task of weeding the overgrown welfare state is that now, like never before, we're undeniably broke.  (Although there are still some on the Left who insist we're not.  Unbelievable.)

But, as Mark Steyn (him again) is apt to say, even if Bill Gates himself were to agree to pay the entire tab, the welfare state would still be wrong.

A nation of welfare state-reared subjects is incapable of self-government.  Self-government demands, by contrast, a nation of citizens, that is, self-disciplined, self-reliant, and independent men and women.  Men and women who know the difference between goods and rights and who insist that the distinction be maintained.

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