The origin of rights?
What are the origin of our rights? Our Founding Fathers believed that our rights came from the mere fact that we are human beings. Cass Sustein, a key advisor to President Obama, takes a different approach. Sustein argues that our rights come from the government. In The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxation, which Sustein co-written with Stephen Holmes, the following argument is present:
Our freedom from government interference is no less budget-dependent than our entitlement to public assistance. Both freedoms must be interpreted. Both are implemented by public officials who, drawing on the public purse, have a good deal of discretion in construing and protecting them.
The Fourth Amendment right [against unreasonable government searches and seizures] cannot be absolute unless the public is willing to invest the enormous amounts necessary to ensure that it is seldom violated in practice. The fact that the Fourth Amendment is violated so regularly shows that the public is not willing to make that investment.
What. The. Hell?
This argument, first read at Campaign for Liberty, posits that all our rights are derived from the government and that our ability to keep our rights is contingent upon our willingness to pay taxation. Basically, our rights don’t count for a damn thing.
You see, the Constitution is clearly designed to reign in government. However Sustein and Holmes argue that we must pay government to reign itself in, and that argument that makes about as much sense as trusting Charlie Sheen to not sound like a drugged up moron on the radio.
I wonder how Sustein and Holmes would feel about the concept of rights originating from the government should their sacred cows be removed via government. How would they feel if their freedom to write such crap were permenantly removed by the government? After all, what government gives, it can also take away.
Obviously, they would have a problem with this. The logical inconsistency would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic. The issue would be a lost cause though.
No, rights don’t originate with the government. Governments exist solely to protect those rights, but they exist regardless of whether taxation is sufficient to protect them. Sustein and Holmes will have to get over that.