Rights, Responsibilities and Society

It seems that all societies go through periods when they confuse or diminish the distinctions between rights and responsibilities.  On the one hand everyone today is claiming that everything is a personal right and on the other they believe it is the government’s responsibility to fix anything and everything they perceive as not working out the way they think they should.  Both government and individuals have responsibilities and the individuals should have rights in their relationships with government.  Our private dealings with another should fall into another category.  Those would involve the rules of curtesy, manners  and civil behavoir with one another.  We forget that many of the things we assume or rights are in fact privileges granted either by the state or by society.

One of the most common assumptions is that we have the right to drive a car.  Not true.   There is no such right.   We are given a license by the State to drive those vehichles.  It is a privilege and can be lost due to our own behavoir.  We forget that often.   Some now argue that medical care is a right, somehow guaranteed under the Constitution.  It can be declared as such as often as some want but that does not make it so.    No doubt that is a societal obligation as a matter of charity to see to the needs of the truly less fortunate and those that have encountered bad luck along the road of life.  That however is a far different matter than having a right under law to medical treatment.  Can we send doctors to jail for not treating a patient?  Would you want a society where that could happen?  We would all hope that any doctor would be morally compelled to aid those suffering but it would be quite another thing to threaten jail for failure to render such service.  Same with the plumber.  Do you  have a right to have your leaking toilet repaired regardless of whether you  can pay for it or not?  That leak can and will cause very serious damage to your home without repair but does that mean the plumber is obligated to make the repair free or even if you  will pay is he obligated to fix it.  What if he just doesn’t want to.  We need to be very careful when we create a right.  I think our Founders did an excellent job with defining our rights and keeping them simple and yet profound at the same time.  Most of life’s issues they left to us as members of socities or to local authority which is much more in tune with the local concerns and needs of its citizens.

All matters regarding family life have been left to the States to decide.  We have no National rights with regard to those matters such as marriage or adoption.   We have no right to marriage even under the various State laws.  If it was a right then you wouldn’t need a marriage license.  You get the license because marriage is a fundamental concern  of the State.  All family relationships are a concern of the State that is why we have laws against incest and child abuse.  In times not that far removed those matters were mostly left to the man of the house and the State would merely approve whatever action the father took with regard to an errant child or wife.  Likewise that is why up to now we have had laws against polygamy in all the States.  The State we have decreed has such a fundamental interest in the integrity and structure of the family unit that we have ceded authority over all such matters to the State.  If gay marriages were a matter of right then there would be no need for a license.   But even those marriages require a license from the State.  Historic recognition of “common law” marriages never equated with recognition of any right to marriage. 

I frankly don’t rank the gay marriage issue up on my top 20 concerns one way or the other but I am concerned by the ever expanding theory that everything is somehow a right.  It seems fair to assume that if everyone is free to do whatever they please as a matter of right then we really don’t have any freedoms or rights at all but a loosely organized anarchy.  We will all be better off if we stick to the fundamental rights as outlined in the Constitution and then make such adjustments in our family relationships as the people decide in the democratic process.  We have all decided so far that polygamy is a detriment to society and that should remain the rule until we collectively change it by our vote not the decision of a judge somewhere.  We should maintain few rights but guard those we have zealously.

Likewise we must monitor the power of the state with the authority it has over us and its power to “license” our activities we deem important to a functioning society and economy.  We need to be careful that the States or Federal government right to grant corporate charters is never used to control our economy and free markets.  Nor should “regulations” for our own good and protection every exceed the authority of Article One of the ennumerated powers lest they may not be for our own good but for the aggrandizement of an elite governing cabal.

Our weakening dollar will not do our economy any good over the long haul.  Yes, it helps some industries with exports in the short run but on a macroeconomic scale we want our dollar to be the most prized possesion on earth.  That will make our economy stronger and a better standard of living for each American.  Lots of energy and a strong dollar are the backbone of our modern economy.  Our natural urge for innovation will take care of the rest.  wwwe.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Filed under Culture, Economics, family, government, Politics

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