Thursday, March 25, 2010

What is a right?

What is a right? This question has been asked thousands of times over the course of history, been debated by philosophers and far wiser men than this total idiot, and, forgive me if I should parrot their arguments without going too deeply into them. The nature of rights was discussed by some of the greatest liberty-minded men, and equally discussed by the greatest despots.

There are those that insist rights lie in the majority, that it is the will of the majority that establishes and creates rights. This will, this power, ideally benefits the majority more than it inconveniences the minority. This is the nature of pure democracy, the power of the majority determining what all will receive, for better or ill.

This document, however, discusses rights in the nature of a constitutionally limited republic, under the common-law tradition, as understood and argued by the founders of the United States government. Rights in this system are not things established or created by social contract, not placed under the heel of the majority or minority, but discussed as intangible, but vital property. One of these rights, in fact, is a circular one, a right to have property... as well as an essential property within that right. Rights, in this system of government, are individual, existing even outside of the majority.

To understand rights, therefore, one must understand the nature of property. A property, in the loosest sense, is anything in which the individual or society places value. Any property has several essences, the first, dominion, the second control, and the third disposition. Some properties are considered inalienable, properties protected even from the action of the owner, prohibited from transfer by any means, including by consent. Other properties are considered to be alienable, capable of being transferred. There are properties in fee-simple arrangements, in arrangements of trust, of lease, and more complex contractual estate and escrow.

The essence of property is something that one has a right to, and has dominion and control over, something that one places value within, and that one has increased with his or her work. Property is not the thing, it is the right within the thing.

This seems yet another circular argument, but remember that one of our rights is to have property, and, as Madison said, also a property in our rights. This right to property in rights, is the very right to have rights. It is an inalienable property, as we establish the value ourselves, and according to our effort, defend that value. The right to have property, and the right to have rights, may well be the essence of the argument.

We have a right to live, a right shored up by the arguments of our founders, and the works of Manegold, John of Salisbury, and many of the philosophers. That right was bound within the Declaration of Independence, and recognized by the Common Law and the Constitution and laws of the states. We could not commit murder without depriving another of that right, and for that loss of right, we forfeited our own lives. We could not steal the property of others without losing that property, and making just recompense from our own for any dimunition of it. We could not take things from another's property, without recompense. If we took wood from the property of another and made it into furniture, the wood must be paid for in a fair market value, but the property within our labor remains ours.

Perhaps the best definition of a right is a property interest that leaves all others to enjoy the same property, without dimunition. If one takes the right to breathe, all others share that same right. If one chooses to defend his or her home against those who would take it, he or she still leaves all others that same right. If a person takes another person's property, he does not leave the other the same right within their property. If a person takes another person's life... he cannot give just recompense for that life.

A right, therefore, to be a right, must be something that allows all others the same use of the same right. The right to have, own, and protect property, for instance, is not the same as a right in any given property, but is a right to the property of one's own opinions, one's own hands, and one's own work. If this leads to property in a real, tangible sense, than it is a right to dominion and control over that property.

We have the right to live our lives in a way that does not diminish the lives of others. We have the right to property. We have the right to liberty, for liberty leaves all with the same enjoyment of rights. We have the right to equality under the law, without regard to our station, without regard to our past, without regard to any status humanity may place upon us. That is liberty. We have the right to property, so long as we leave others the same right. We have the right to defend all of the above against all takers, so long as we leave others free to do the same.

The moment we restrict those rights of another, our own are fundamentally insecure. We are outside of our rights when we choose to limit what rights another may exercise, while still enjoying that right ourselves.

At that moment it ceases to be a right, for we are diminishing the rights of others.

There are established ways and means of suspending these rights, as punishment for a crime until the sentence is complete. This is the means of judge and jury, as well as having the jury know the full punishment for the crime the person is being charged with. The jury is the full arbiter of both the facts in the case, the law in the case, and the moderator against the excesses of the legislature.

That is a social right, the right to a fair and speedy trial. It is likewise a right to have the punishment be of limited, express scope, and only for a very limited period of time.

Otherwise, what happens? We may make laws applicable to some, but not to others. This is called attainder. When the legislature determines those upon whom the law is to operate, rather than making general laws, attainder applies. The only just and applicable power applies to all, regardless of situation, equally.

That is the rule of law. It does not matter if the law is criminal or civil, if it only applies to some, it is attainder. It does not matter what the past of the individual is, if the court, and jury adjudicate that the person is to be limited, that is within the powers of the jury, not the powers of the legislature.

Given this power, the legislature makes monopolies rise, benefits their friends at the expense of the general public, and creates scapegoats to take the aggression and attention of the people from their own misdeeds. They give handouts on one hand, take things on another, and exempt themselves from their own laws.

This can never be beneficial to a society, even in the short run. It destroys the government, destroys the respect in the rule of law, and the nature of law. It can never be allowed to gain foothold and flourish in our constitutional republic, and even the states themselves are prohibited from exercising such powers.

But do the protections still exist? Look around you. Even this total idiot sees what has been done. Are you willing to see?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Universal health insurance?

I am a total idiot. Being such, one must ask questions that may seem foolish to the outside individual, in my maundering, mouldering mind lost in untrammeled paths, ceding sense by the moment. I am a being of contradictions and paradoxes, and in my foolishness believe logic must be used to find the truth.

That being aside, the congress has just passed a bill that, in their own language, purports to extend an explicit right. Such a thing is within the power of the congress, to recognize and protect the rights of the people, however, I have wondered if they have fully thought out the nature of such a right.

The maintenance of rights is, and remains, by recognition of numerous court cases and the founder’s own papers, the purpose of government. The preservation of those rights against all takers is paramount in the nature of the social compact, and the essence of the republic.

Rights, by their nature, cannot come into conflict. If two rights appear to come into conflict, the one of them cannot be any right at all, but merely the illusion of a right.

Such, to this idiot’s mind, seems to be the case of health care. The essence of rights is that no person may have a right for which they must ask permission prior to use, gain authorization, make amends or payment. The exercise of that right must be left to the discretion of the user. Rights in the original sense, in the unalienable and fundamental sense, are not established by social contract, but by the innate nature of the human being.

We have the fundamental right to our own lives, our own properties, our own liberty, and our own ability to protect the above. Without regard to laws that purport to modify it, or to restrict it, these were the reasons for the creation of government.

From the Jehova’s Witnesses, to the cases of laundries in San Francisco, we’ve had many court cases establishing that right as a property, eligible for suit within the courts of law. Yick Wo v Hopkins went so far as to state:

When we consider the nature and the theory of our institutions of government, the principles upon which they are supposed to rest, and review the history of their development, we are constrained to conclude that they do not mean to leave room for the play and action of purely personal and arbitrary power. Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law; but, in our system, while sovereign powers are delegated to the agencies of government, sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts. And the law is the definition and limitation of power. It is, indeed, quite true that there must always be lodged somewhere, and in some person or body, the authority of final decision, and in many cases of mere administration, the responsibility is purely political, no appeal lying except to the ultimate tribunal of the public judgment, exercised either in the pressure of opinion or by means of the suffrage. But the fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, considered as individual possessions, are secured by those maxims of constitutional law which are the monuments showing the victorious progress of the race in securing to men the blessings of civilization under the reign of just and equal laws, so that, in the famous language of the Massachusetts Bill of Rights, the government of the commonwealth "may be a government of laws, and not of men." For the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life at the mere will of another seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself.

The judgment within the Jehova’s Witnesses cases was similar.

We think that the ordinance is invalid on its face. Whatever the motive which induced its adoption, its character is such that it strikes at the very foundation of the freedom of the press by subjecting it to license and censorship. The struggle for the freedom of the press was primarily directed against the power of the licensor. It was against that power that John Milton directed his assault by his 'Appeal for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing.' And the liberty of the press became initially a right to publish 'without a license what formerly could be published only with one.' 1 While this freedom from previous restraint upon publication cannot be regarded as exhausting the guaranty of liberty, the prevention of that restraint was a leading purpose in the adoption of the [303 U.S. 444, 452] constitutional provision. See Patterson v. Colorado, 205 U.S. 454, 462 , 27 S.Ct. 556, 10 Ann.Cas. 689; Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697 , 713-716, 51 S.Ct. 625, 630; Grosjean v. American Press Company, 297 U.S. 233, 245 , 246 S., 56 S.Ct. 444, 447. Legislation of the type of the ordinance in question would restore the system of license and censorship in its baldest form.

If it is a right, one cannot license it, one cannot put limitations upon the places or means with which one utilizes to exercise the right, save those that are directly injurious to others. One cannot place a right within a box, and then determine the means by which it may be lawfully exercised, after taxation, nor may it establish that the exerciser may be limited by prior action. The right is universal, not to be licensed, sold, or taxed, and unlimited in both scope and bearing. It is a property subject to judicial suit for its lack.

One cannot presuppose doctors will work for free, nor donate their hours, their lives, and their time to that which does not give them gain, or even food upon which to live. Their investment of time is their own property. One cannot require someone to give their property, even for the greater good, without just recompense. To do so would be, as Yick Wo v Hopkins said, ‘nothing less than the essence of slavery itself’. To tax for the exercise of a right is also not congruent with the nature of a right. It is a licensure, and but for that licensure, a procurement or use of that right would automatically be unlawful.

One side or the other must fall. Either the doctor’s property in their own lives is immaterial, or the people’s right to health care is not a right at all. One cannot force a doctor to labour with no recompense without falling under the thirteenth amendment prohibition against slavery, an absolute prohibition extended and expanded under the 1957 treaty for the abolition of slavery, and institutions like slavery.

Where two rights appear to conflict, one right is no right at all. The right of property within the doctor's own life conflicts with the supposed right to universal health care. While one can recognize the 'right' to universal health care... the doctors do not have to provide. To force them to provide is just another means of servitude.

Where a legislative right comes up against an absolute, human right, the legislative right must fall.

Furthermore, any right under the constitutional mandate is not merely extended to citizens, but by, and under international law, extended to all who operate and live within our borders. This was recognized as late as 1910. The legislature does not have the power to alter this. If there is a right to health care, all must receive the same care, from the richest to the poorest, and all have the right to the best health care, medications, and treatment available for their problem.

No matter where they are from.

For free. Forever.

When a legislative, or executive panel determines the nature, the quantity, and the allowable costs of health care, it cannot be a right. It cannot be that a panel can defer responsibility for their decisions in a patient’s care to a doctor who is under duress to follow their orders, allowing malpractice suits upon the doctor rather than the panel.

No doctor could knowingly operate in such a fashion and still be ethical. They must give the best care, the best treatment, and the best, and most appropriate decisions for their patient’s care. To say a panel can determine what is ‘best’ and the doctor is left holding the responsibility for their decisions is also a matter of involuntary servitude.

Moreover, there can be no delay in the exercise of an established right. The right must be available immediately, and in its final form, not in the form of the choosing of the legislature. Not in four years... today.

If it is a 'right to health insurance', rather than a 'right to health care', the people should have the choice of exercising the right, or not... just as they choose to exercise the right to alter or abolish their government... or not.

As wonderful as the idea of total health insurance appears on paper, this total idiot, at least, recognizes that the only way to accomplish it is to force labor in their behalf, to ration it to those ‘deserving’ of care, and to actually create a far worse fiasco than if the system were left alone with all of its issues. It would actually be better for the nation if full deregulation took place than if we attempt to, by legislative fiat, determine that nature of care without regard to the human lives involved.

But what do I know? I’m a total idiot.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Our most valuable property

Our nation shudders to the core when heinous crimes occur, and again when news of their terrible import reaches our ears. We are right to be angry, within our rights to direct that anger, and well within our rights to try to fix the problem.

Anger is a powerful force, one wrought in the deepest essence of the human soul, where in our pride, our fear, and our fury we eke our our vengeance upon those bodies that have brought us wrong.

Anger, and the associated vengeance are both necessary, and to some limited extents, healthy. They are survival essences wrought in the forge of the universe, winnowed and sharpened by time, and targeted to eliminate problems with brutal force where needed.

But is it applicable to the problem of heinous crimes? Certainly, those who violate the laws of society bear the condemnation of those very laws. Certainly, as well, we have the right and duty to see to it that justice is carried out.

But even that right and duty is limited in the nature of crimes. While we may restrict the individual from actions, within the confines of the law, we cannot restrict individuals who have not created a new crime. Those restrictions are forbidden us.

It is for the preservation of rights that we have entered into society, the preservation of the essence of that which it is to be human. A tree cannot have rights, nor can a stone, nor a machine that cannot think. We, the human being, the thinking beings have those rights.

They are not something, by tradition, to be picked up or laid down by others, and some rights were so all-compelling that they could not even be laid down rightfully or justly by our own hands, nor stolen by the hands of others, including the hands of the law.

It is, and has always been an act of war to use force to take that which is not yours. The limited interpretation of the law today cannot change that, cannot alter the fundamental purpose of the law itself.

Our greatest property of all is not our land, nor our liberty, nor our lives, nor even the thoughts in our own mind, but is, rather, the very right to have rights. That essence is core to human thought, human behavior and perception, and the very essence of our right to property... the right to sue, or if necessary, to make war to preserve that very right to have property. The right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to defend that property all reinforce the intimate essence of the property within our selves, and in that which we think, perceive, and create.

It is an essence so intertwined in who we are, that we cannot lay it down justly. We have the power, the right, the authority to protect that right with whatever means we may, should the courts fail to preserve them against takers.

That is the very substance of the Second Amendment, and those Bills of Rights through the ages: A method of preserving an intimate, irrevocable, property for which no price, no lien, no attainder, nor alienation may be allowed.

After all... should you vote to remove those inalienable properties of others.. how long until your own are removed?

Without those rights to property, and the means to defend them against all takers, are we human, or have we become property to be disposed of as well?

I am a total idiot, but how may one resist acts of war, without a force sufficient to counter the barbarians? This idiot... wonders.

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