Privileges or rights?



Almost five years after ObamaCare was signed into law, the IRS will start tracking and penalizing those who choose not, or cannot afford, to buy approved health insurance. Before ObamaCare was passed, then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said that free healthcare was “a right” for the people. There are many examples of people claiming things as their rights, like college students rioting and demanding for free education, or being able to use food stamps for things beside food. This obsession over individual rights, which has led to a sense of entitlement among some Americans stems from a misunderstanding of what an “individual right” is and what a government provided “privilege” is.

In Constitutional Law, rights are categorized into three different types: natural, civil, and political. Natural rights are those that are believed to be given by man’s Creator and grow out of the nature of the individual human being, such as the rights to life, liberty, privacy, and the pursuit of happiness. Civil Rights are those that belong to every citizen of the state, and are not connected with the organization or administration of government. They include the rights of property, marriage, protection by law, freedom to contract, trial by jury, and the like. These rights are capable of being enforced or redressed in a civil action in a court. Political rights entail the power to participate directly or indirectly in the establishment or administration of government, such as the right of citizenship, the right to vote, and the right to hold public office.

A privilege is a benefit enjoyed by a person beyond the advantages of most. The government owns the “privileges” of things that the government provides, such as public welfare, public housing, public education, driving, etc. Nearly everything that the government subsidizes is a privilege that the government owns. Understanding the difference between these two is as important as understanding the difference between freedom and slavery.

Despite what Nancy Pelosi believes, free health care is a privilege that is being given by the government for its citizens. This privilege is coming at an extremely high cost, but it is a privilege nonetheless. By understanding that privileges, and not individual rights, come from the government one begins to have a sense of personal responsibility for one’s rights, for that is the cost of freedom. This is exactly what Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he pointed at that, “everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” Without citizens understanding the difference between individual rights and government-provided privileges, the U.S. is destined to become a nation of government-owned slaves. We should strive for continual freedom to exercise these rights and not demand for more privileges. A government that is powerful enough to give you everything you want is dangerous enough to take everything away.