I have found no person uninterested about “Rights”. When I was a kid, I was taught in the school about the three fundamental rights : Food, Clothing and Shelter. Neither my teachers felt necessary to let me know about how they get fulfilled nor had I any interest in knowing. I had just considered those 3 aspects of life as fundamental rights. Nowadays, people have added many things in the list like: Water, electricity, education, health, speech, information, employment, recreation, reservation etc according to the society they are inhabiting and according to their convenience. Many of the times we have answers rumbling around us, but we remain unanswered. On going through “Man’s Right” by Ayn Rand, it was the first time I get a clear picture.
“At whose expense?”, the question by her, struck in my head deep. At whose expense should one be provided with food, clothing, shelter or any other so called rights. Who is responsible for “Right to life” of a man?, he himself, the government or other third party? In the article, Rand clearly illustrates: “the right to life means that a man has the right to support his life by his own work (on any economic level, as high as his ability will carry him); it does not mean that others must provide him with the necessities of life.”
Similar for the case of property and speech respectively as: the right to property means that a man has the right to take the economic actions necessary to earn property, to use it and to dispose of it; it does not mean that others must provide him with property. The right of free speech means that a man has the right to express his ideas without danger of suppression, interference or punitive action by the government. It does not mean that others must provide him with a lecture hall, a radio station or a printing press through which to express his ideas.
This helped me to understand the right of an individual more clearly. I am completely convinced with Rand about the only one fundamental right i.e. man’s right to his life (this entails his freedom to act on his own judgement, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, un-coerced choice) and all other entities to be the consequences and corollaries of his action. One has the right to education, it does not mean he should be given it freely. Every goods and services should be produced and if some man are entitled to by right to the product of others, it means the producers are deprived of their right. Taking the goods of others in free is stealing and make others provide service in free is enslavement. And nobody has the right of stealing or enslaving others. The conclusion is rights does not mean getting goods and services in free, right refers to get those through voluntary exchange in between.
What about the government? We pay the tax and in return the government should provide them in free.
Is it? I am not convinced.
What is the source of income of the government?
Economically active citizen.
Shared Amongst all for common good.
Then theres some questions. Are not economically passive getting the output of the toil of others? Isn’t it an enslavement?
Who gives the government authority to collect tax? They take them from coerced policy and law. Isn’t it stealing to take the outcome of others by force wherever they use? Isn’t stealing a stealing if its for noble purpose?
Then how can a government run to provide the facilities to people? I now say, why should the government provide the goods and services produced by others? The producers shall manage them. We all know how better we care and manage our property comparative to others.
Then whats the role of government? The answer is simple “Protect the rights of its citizen” through rational rule of law and voluntary exchange of the service.
In general, we have always been expecting the government to take better care of us and provide us the every goods and services. But being rational, we must think “How it comes?” I say – I no longer need the care of the government if it comes from theft. Being a man, I believe in myself that I have the ability to have my living on my own strength. I can support myself from voluntary exchange of my skills, knowledge and toil. In fact, each of us can, and most of us are doing so. Understanding rights helps to change our attitude regarding how we live our life. I just want to leave a question at last: “Do we want to enslave others and/or steal?“