Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ron Paul and Frederic Bastiat - Whats Rights Are and What They are Not

A few months ago, I finally got around to reading The Law by Frederic Bastiat. A Frenchman living in a nation that had already succumbed to all sorts of tariffs, allowing some to sell their products at a higher than marker price and steadily moving in the direction of central planning, Bastiat called for end and to the disastrous path his country was taking. He also wrote the most clear - in my opinion even more so that John  Locke, explanations on what rights actually are and the true purposes for laws that I have ever read. His scathing attacks on the turn that States have taken to turn laws from being tools for protecting rights to a means of taking away rights for the sake of whoever is making demands should be read by all.

Bastiat's birthday was yesterday, and I saved the link from The Blaze  in order to use it today. By a stroke of fortune, The Blaze also had quotes from former Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul today. In an interview with Dana Loesch, Congressman Paul made statements about the employer mandates for abortifacients and birth control contained in the Affordable Care Act that perfectly echo Bastiat's words.

I will include both links today.

"Former Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas said Wednesday that if Americans understood the definition of “rights,” the battle over whether Hobby Lobby should have to pay for its employees’ birth control would likely never have happened.

“It’s the whole issue of the understanding of what rights are, and mandates that we shouldn’t have,” Paul said, speaking on The Glenn Beck Program with guest host Dana Loesch. “If we had that, then we wouldn’t have to go through this agony.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, saying that Obamacare cannot force companies to pay for emergency contraceptive coverage that could lead to abortions if it violates their religious beliefs.

“The claim is that women have a right to free birth control,” Paul explained. “And yet they never talk about the rights of the person that has to provide these demands. But demands and desires and needs can’t become rights, and that’s why we have a society today that, anyone who needs or wants something [says], ‘We have a right to this.’ But they never say, ‘Whose rights must we violate in order to get what we want?’”

“The left never talks about that,” Paul continued. “They only talk about some individual who wants something, and they have a ‘right’ to it, and don’t even bring up the subject of whose rights are going to be violated by providing these services.”

Paul said it is “such a shame” that Americans are fighting over the topic, saying “these debates wouldn’t go on” if we “lived in a free society” and understood the “definition of ‘rights.’”......"

".........Bastiat, who was born some 213 years ago in Bayonne, France, wrote perhaps most eloquently with respect to liberty and the law, expressing positions that are as meaningful and relevant today as when they were first written.

In his, “The Law,” Bastiat begins:

“The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.”

Bastiat continues:

“We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life — physical, intellectual, and moral life............

Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all...........

“But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
How has this perversion of the law been accomplished? And what have been the results?

The law has been perverted by the influence of two entirely different causes: stupid greed and false philanthropy............."

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