CONSTITUTIONAL CONVERSATIONS

        What Are Your Human Rights?

                               by

  1. E. Boyd, Esq., “Miss Constitution”

It is fashionable in some Democratic circles, certainly those on the Presidential debate stage, to talk about health care, college education, lifetime income, etc., etc., as “human rights.”  As such, according to our Declaration of Independence, they would be obligations of our Creator.  God owes you health care, a college education, and so on.  In our unique system your HUMAN RIGHTS do not come from the United States Constitution or from any government.  Your HUMAN RIGHTS come from God.  I know you all learned this is your 7th grade civics class.  We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights – among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  In other words, our human rights are ideals as abstractions, they are not material things.

Why did the Founders enunciate human rights as abstractions and not “real” things?

The Founders, human beings themselves, had studied human nature extensively and had also studied why earlier civilizations had failed.  They were determined that we, as an American civilization, not fail.  Edward Gibbon, you will recall, had just come out with his seven-volume account of why the Roman Empire failed.  It was read with interest, believe me.  The Founders knew that human beings have certain characteristics that include an almost insatiable desire to bring all things down to the lowest common denominator.  They also knew that human beings, once they are given something, will declare it a “right” rather than a “gift” and demand it vigorously.  That is why our system is not supposed to give things that have monetary value it is supposed to inspire citizens and those within our country’s jurisdiction to acquire those things through hard work and frugality.  The private sector should be the first stop in providing benefits as those benefits come only after earnings not taxation.  How would the private sector handle this issue is the first question that should come to everyone’s mind?

“Please, Miss Constitution, our political leaders can’t wait to give people things that others pay for and get their votes through these gifts.  This is hopelessly old-fashioned.”  Well, yes, it is hopelessly old-fashioned but the Founders, remember, were trying to prevent the usual decline of civilization and to prevent that decline they knew that we cannot keep giving people things from someone else and last long.  At some point, the money others have earned that is redistributed as “gifts” or “human rights”, simply runs out.  We have tried to compromise by creating a “safety net” for some people but, of course, human beings being what they are, want to expand the net to a guarantee of everything material for a lifetime.  Human nature has not changed over the centuries and one of the great gifts of our Founding generation is that they had a great handle on this timeless problem.

“Miss Constitution, you are saying that we are on the wrong track, then.”  Yes, sadly I am.  Let me explain how it is supposed to work and what rights we do have that emanate from the Constitution of the United States.

God gives us life (qualified by the Supreme Court), and liberty (qualified by following the four bundles of law – moral, unwritten, positive, and natural), and the right to pursue our own happiness or ambitions or dreams (qualified by taking into account the welfare of others and giving back to society) and our governmental system gives us civil and political rights to help us attain the happiness we desire.  Our Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitution, spells out what rights we have as an individual as against government power.  Remember, people have rights, government has power.  There is no such thing as state’s rights only state power.  Our political rights involve the right to vote and to be a part of the political discussion without the entrenched state censoring our views.  So, bottom line, our system grants us certain civil and political rights, but our human rights come from God.

Well, what about people who, for one reason or another, cannot pursue their own happiness?

Miss Constitution understands that there are people who need help and a safety net should be there for them.  The Founders thought this net should be both public and private, in partnership, to help those people but they did not want to extend this net further than required lest we get back to the human inclination to turn a “help” into a “right”, that compounded by the population, cannot be sustained.  The Founders relied on the nature of a healthy family unit and the religious convictions of the population that provide restraints to negative behavior, and the free-market economic system that rewards creativity and productivity in conjunction with the moral framework capitalism requires of its adherents.  If you will look closely at the symbols of our system represented by the art work in the national Capitol, and the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court, among other places, you will see what the premises are and how it is supposed to work.  We simply must be a good and decent people who do not look to others, but to ourselves, for the answers to a meaningful life.  We need role models for these concepts, but we seem hell-bent on finding fault with those Americans from the past whom we should cherish.

Miss Constitution would put us on the right track in the following ways:

*We simply must educate all American children properly (meaning accurately) from first through twelfth grade in philosophy, civics, American history, and economics.  Children must fully understand our system before other systems are studied.

*We simply must put the onus for thriving on the adult person him or herself.  Lifestyle habits and decisions of the person affect the welfare of the whole society.

*We simply must stop thinking that the Founders did not know what they were doing or are out of sync with modern times.  They are not out-of-sync; they knew precisely what human beings tend to do.  They asked us to be different – to love God; to be grateful for our country; to follow the Golden Rule; and to resist some of humanity’s inclinations.

What Miss Constitution has heard from several candidates for President would undo the entire brilliant, well-thought out system that has produced the most prosperity for the most people in the history of the world.  What are we thinking?

Copyright ©M.E. Boyd, Esq. “Miss Constitution”

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