We all know that wealth redistribution is the sine qua non goal of lefties the world over and has been throughout time immemorial. No need to rehash why, and why it is a terrible idea, here.
What I do want to touch on briefly is how the lefties are moving on to something that should be the DEFCON 5 for those interested, and thus standing vigilant over, our liberties. For the past four years, lefties have hidden their goal behind the patently ridiculous argument that wealth redistribution had economic benefits in which we all share. This is poppycock but that is how they advanced the notion, because they didn’t want the rest of us to see their real motivation.
The most famous of this ruse in action was then-presidential candidate Obama’s interaction with Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, where he insists that we all do better when we spread wealth around. (Again, we don’t, but that is not my point here.) We’ve continued to hear this theme over the years, such as in when Nancy Pelosi says that unemployment benefits create jobs.
Now, however, lefties are moving on to the real deal, and the best that can be said is that at least the economic nonsense may take a back seat. That is hardly a consolation as the next phase is the enshrining of “taking from the making” into the fabric of life. This is done through the concept of “positive rights.” Michael Kinsley gives you the primer:
The president’s second fascinating gloss on the concept of rights has to do with negative and positive rights. In the U.S., when we think of rights, we think mainly of negative rights: rights against the government. The Bill of Rights is largely a list of things the government may not do to you. It may not prevent you from having your say, or praying to your own God, or living unbothered in your own house. It may not discriminate against you on account of race, religion, and so on. But it has no positive duty to feed or house you.
There is another view of “rights” that sees them in positive terms, as obligations of society to all its citizens. The right to education, to food, to a job, to health care, and so on. These are the kind of rights that engage Obama.
While it sounds good on the surface, there is a reason that “positive rights” were not part of our founding as a nation and have, throughout time, not been a key concept of constitutional design, at least not in parts of the globe where freedom and liberty are valued. This is because “positive rights” are a recipe for the destruction of free societies.
The reason is simple: negative rights don’t cost money, positive rights cost money. It doesn’t cost you or me any tangible resources to allow our fellow citizens to speak their mind, worship their god or live unmolested in their home. But when you have a positive right to a home or to food, that has to be paid for with actual money. Who pays for that? We do. The government has no money of its own, it can only tax or borrow or confiscate.
So, we wind up paying, always. Someone has to have a home, because it is their right, so we have to pay for it. What is yours – your money, your property, your business – becomes secondary because people have rights to things and these things cost money. Standing up to confiscation in any form – excessive taxation, trampling of creditor rights (see Chrysler bailout) or outright confiscation – is recast as denying your fellow citizens’ rights.
Now what it is yours is no longer yours. Someone else has a right to what is yours. “Taking” is now not only not taboo, not merely virtuous, it is imperative. That is where Obama and his ilk are taking us.