Sunday, May 23, 2010

Guest Blogger

This post was written by guest blogger Alexander Herbitter.

The Importance of Language

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve is the misuse of the word "right(s)." For instance, states' rights is a misnomer. States do not have rights. No government has rights. States (like the federal government) have powers. Only people have rights.

The difference there is that a "power" is a right, belonging to the people, that the people have elected to delegate to the government. For instance, we delegate the power of building roads to the government.

Perhaps the most poignant example of this misuse is the current debate over health care. Health care is absolutely a right. Let me say it again so that there is no mistake: I have every right in the world to purchase health care and health insurance to the degree I am willing, and able to do so.

What is meant by the "health care is/isn’t a right" debate is really "health care is/isn’t an entitlement." While I absolutely have the right to health care, health insurance, and other associated services, I am not entitled to them.

The distinction here is very important. Currently I work in metal building fabrication. I show up to work every day and I make steel beams that will be assembled into buildings. Because you do not own me, you do not have a right to my labor. That is what the institution of slavery did—it gave slave owners the right to the labor of the slaves. Now my employer, by virtue of our mutual contract, has become entitled to my labor. That is, he pays me for it. He has bought my absolute right to my labor and so it has become an entitlement on his part (much like a right becomes a governmental power once delegated by the people). He does not own me, but I have agreed to sell him my labor and so long as I continue to accept his money he is entitled to what he has paid for (my time and labor).

A doctor sitting in an examination room trying to figure out why my wrist hurts is doing precisely the same thing I do when I fabricated that previously mentioned steel beam. He and I have contracted (the difference between “employer” and “customer” is minimal) so that I may purchase his (highly skilled) labor. I have paid for it and am entitled to receive service as such. But he is not my property and I do not have any right to his labor. He may refuse to contract with me at any time, and I may refuse to contract with him and take my business elsewhere. If I had an absolute right to his labor, he would not have that freedom.

An insurance company does exactly what my employer does—that is, offers a product to meet the demands of its customers. And unless you own the company, you have no more right to the product of an insurer than you have a right to the product of my employer. You can purchase their product and become entitled to the fulfillment of their contractual obligations, but until you own the company you do not have a right to their products.

This is, by the bye, why stocks pay dividends. Owning stock in a company represents ownership of that company (own 10% of the shares out there and you own 10% of the company) and dividends are paid from the company's profits—that is, they are your share of the profits that you have a right to because you are an owner of the company.

It’s simple word play, but it is important. The liberals have defined health care as a "right" and were the first to misuse the word. But when conservatives play that game it makes us into the folks saying "YOU AIN’T GOT NO RIGHTS, SON!" and that’s not the way to play it. The "entitlement" point allows us to come off, not as the ideology of "no," but the ideology of "earn it."


  1. How come the writer at linden-would doesn't have this type of writing ability! Like Mother, like Son.

  2. Well put. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention health care not being a right. That's where the Libs jump off the rails.

    Ideally there would be no illness, no crime, no automobile accidents. We do not live in an ideal world and unfortunately, the Libs that perpetuate the poverty in this nation are also the ones that want to spend money that doesn't exist on a fix that won't work.