Government fails at the basics, too

 

The private military contractor Blackwater “has sent a
private sector warship equipped with helicopters to the Gulf of Aden
, and is
offering its services to shipowners concerned with Somali piracy. 

Blackwater Worldwide executive vice-president Bill Matthews
said: “We have been contacted by shipowners who say they need our help in
making sure goods get to their destination. The McArthur can help us accomplish
that.”

I have no comment, other than to ask this:

Why is it that I hand over 50% of my income to the
government and submit to humiliating violations of my privacy on a regular
basis, and it can’t even perform the one role it is constitutionally authorized
to do?  Why is a private company with a
single ship able to do what the worlds superpowers, with their massive budgets
and huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons cannot? 
Are they even pretending to “defend our freedoms” or is mindless repetition
of that phrase enough to fool the masses into surrendering theirs?

 

No such thing as a right to happiness

A recent court ruling awarded a father $11 million due to the
“emotional distress” caused by Wesboro
Baptist Church
members who picketed his son’s funeral.  The
defendant’s attorney presented the case as an issue of free speech.  While the ruling is a violation of rights, supporters
of both sides demonstrate a misunderstanding of rights when they present the
issue as a case of privacy versus freedom of speech.  There is no such thing as a “right” to
privacy, speech, or a certain emotional state. 
Much of the confusion over rights today is due to lack of understanding
of property rights.

Most people understand that there is no absolute right to
“happiness.”  Such a claim would mean
that anyone could turn everyone around them into slaves by demanding their
labor or property in order to be “happy.”  Rights define the actions men make take in a
social context, but do not impose any obligation, except to respect the same
rights of others.  This is why the U.S.
Declaration of Independence declares the right to the pursuit of happiness, not
to happiness itself.

Despite this, democratic governments enforce a “right” to happiness
through the formation of a contradictory set of “fundamental” rights.  By “rights” they mean both freedom from coercion
(negative rights), and “rights” to various goods and services, which are paid
for by coercion (positive rights).  To
clarify: rights include the right to be free from coercion as well as the power
to coerce others.  Democracies hide this contradiction
by the pretence that allowing citizens to participate in elections qualifies as
consent to the coersion.  In fact,
elections only give individual voters a miniscule power to choose the people who
decide who gets to rob whom.  Democracies
are a civil war in which votes are weapons, “positive rights” the cause and public
property is often the battleground. 

All “public” property ultimately benefits individuals.  There is no such thing as a collective mind
or a collective stomach.  “Common
services” like welfare, schools, and parks are consumed by the unemployed, students,
and nature enthusiasts.  In democratic societies,
most of the debate over conflicting “rights” comes from attempts by groups
with conflicting values to use the same public property.  For example, the debate over prayer in schools
exists only because public schools are used by people with conflicting
religious beliefs.  No such issue exists
for private schools – parents simply send their children to schools whose
teachings they find acceptable.  The “right
to privacy” was invented primarily because states started monitoring and interfering
with the consensual behavior of adults.  Likewise,
the need to protect a right to speech is only necessary because people with
conflicting values demand to use the same public spaces to express their ideas.  Over time, the right to speech has come to
mean not just the freedom to express ideas on publicly-owned property, but the
power to regulate private property by forcing property owners to permit or
forbid certain content.  Controls on
speech on private property include “equal time” requirements, censorship of “immoral”
content by the FCC, campaign finance regulations, restrictions of commercial
speech, and laws against “hate speech”
and “hate crimes.”

The solution to the morass of contradictory “rights” is to
re-establish the principle of negative rights – that is, to define rights
solely in terms of property rights (including ownership of one’s own body.)  For example, in the Wesboro Baptist case, the
only relevant question should be –  did
the protester’s actions constitute trespass? 
If the protesters were on cemetery grounds against the owner’s wishes,
or were shouting from a neighboring property, the issue can be handled as a
case of simple trespass.  However to criminalize
merely putting someone in a state of “emotional distress”  criminalizes any speech or action that might
potentially offend someone.    This is nothing less than a right to happiness
- which means the right to use force against anyone to fulfill one’s whims.