Tag Archives: individual rights

Your Rights As They Exist On An Island, By Your Lonesome

I saw a sign at the Occupy Wall Street protest that, well, sort of boggled my mind.

To Say That a Job is a Right is the Same Thing as Claiming You Have the Right to Enslave

How can you claim a job to be a right? Are you not claiming ownership over the product or service of another person?

And this is where the “rights on an island” scenario comes into play. My dear friend Justin used this analogy. Imagine if you were on an island and you were the only person there. No other human exists on this island. Additionally, there are no merchants or health care providers or attorneys or–yes, that’s right–employers.

Consider the way in which your rights exist in this setting. On this island, you have freedom to do as you please. If you wanted to spend time doing jumping jacks, that is your right. If you wanted to build a home* on this island, you could do that too. But your rights are limited to what you can provide for yourself, without infringing upon another.

You have the right to pursue (your own, unique, personal, individual) happiness. You have the right to liberty. That is all.

You do not have the right to another man’s product or service. Or, in the case of the employer, you do not have the right to a job. A job is a value the employer has created for themselves. They worked to achieve a status that affords them the freedom to hire. That is their achieved liberty. They can hire, and that is their choice.

You do not have a right to a job. A job is product that is created and carefully constructed; to be offered, only at the will and desire of the employer who created it. If they deem a candidate of worth and relevance for the job, then they have the liberty to choose said candidate.

Just as a job is a product, so is, let’s say, a lamp. The Lamp Store sells lamps. Do you have a right to the lamp? What about the dentist? Her product is dental care. Do you have a right to that?

No.

Remember, you are on an island. Your rights exist only as if you were on said island, all by your lonesome.

I don’t have a right to a job. I do have the right, however, to make myself relevant and of value to the employer. I do this by honing my skill. Gaining experience. Contacting people in the industry.

I own a small business. It’s new and, week to week, I work hard to build something that will, in time, be enough to support my family. It’s not easy work. It takes dedication. Toil. Sweat. Patience. Do I have a right to this job? Heck no.

I imagine a scenario in which I walk into the office of a local marketing firm and tell them that I have a right to procure a writing project from them. They’d laugh me out of their office and possibly call the police. And rightfully so.

So, please, don’t claim you have a right to a job. You don’t.

*The island is only metaphorical. It doesn’t exist. The home you build is also metaphorical. No private/public property arguments.

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Feed the Homeless, Go To Jail: Part Two

As I wrote last week, people are being thrown in jail for exercising their own goddamn right to feed whomever they goddamn wish. Why are we concerned with the volitional interactions between those that wish to provide a service to those in need of said service, or product?

Sadly, the incarceration continues.

(HT: Hit & Run)

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I Hate the Wealthy Because They Are, In Fact, Wealthy.

On what level, and from what place, does one decide that a particular person- a stranger perhaps- makes too much money, and then consequently give that person the supposed rightful title of “greedy, fat cat, selfish, money monger”? This is a question, of which I have no answer. Actually scratch that. There are, in fact, a few explanations. But to empathize, or understand on a level relating to some sort of enlightening realization- well that’s just madness.

With the recent economic malaise, Wall Street and other Big name financial institutions have seen what it’s like to be truly hated (and I don’t intend to argue with anyone concerning the origins of this economic malaise. There is a slew of evidence that points to the intervention of Government- not, in fact, because of the aforementioned “greedy”). There are a few explanations for this- of which I will list here.

Firstly, what we as a culture and society deem to be moral seems backwards. The moral norm is that of self-sacrifice, of altruism, of a celebration of the meek, the poor, and the less fortunate. This is in large part due to religion and its self-sacrificial pronouncements. Part of this moral sanction tells us we should give away what we produce to those that do not, in the form of handouts, entitlements, and its ilk.

And so, the Big business types, CEOS and the rich, because they have pursued their self-interest and achieved a great amount of wealth, are demonized. Is it not rational or moral to achieve great wealth and production? Let’s say there are two people. One person decides to pursue their happiness, and self-interest, starts a company, and becomes a billionaire. This person, while pursuing their own self-interest, while being “selfish,” has created a great product, has employed hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, and has raised the standards of living for its employees, its consumers, and the economies surrounding the business.

The other person follows this moral norm of altruism and sacrifices their self to those that are less fortunate, the poor, the homeless, etc. Now, before I continue, an important point to make is that I am not belittling simple acts of human decency- of which are all innate within us- nor am I condoning psychopathic behavior of any sort. What I am denouncing is the idea of living a life committed to altruism, which states that:

Man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value” (Philosophy: Who Needs It, pg. 61, Ayn Rand).

In this sense, the man who lives as an altruist, abandons self- i.e. he has no self. His life becomes that of the beggars, the non-producers, and the second-handers. The altruist finds moral value in meekness, and wants everyone to be equal in their worthlessness. It denies the right of man to live for his own sake, to hold his life as his standard of living, and his happiness as his highest moral purpose. It states that “any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil” (The Virtue of Selfishness Ayn Rand).

But how is this moral? How is this virtuous? How is it good to live self-sacrificially? It seems backwards to me when Bill Gates is vilified for his wealth- which is brought forth by creative thought, innovation, productivity- and praised when he gives said wealth away to those that have not earned it.

The second explanation is an issue of fairness, which stems from the moral misuse of the first. The moral sanction of today claims it’s “unfair” that Wal-Mart, and other Big businesses and their CEOs are doing much better than their competitors. They claim it’s not right that these rich CEOs and Big business-types are making billions while there are those that are barely getting by. But what does that say, really? To the altruists, the wealthy have a moral duty to spread their wealth around; to the altruists, the rich have a moral duty to give their well-earned money to those that haven’t earned it; to the altruists, the producers have a moral duty to provide for the non-producers. Now, I ask, how is that right- how is that moral?

This isn’t a new phenomenon either. Read your history concerning Rockefeller, to start. Decades later, during the 80s, the government forced Bill Gates to give some of his secrets away to the competition. On what level, from what place is that moral? The nature of the market necessitates the existence of both small and large business. It necessitates uneven salaries, and wealth. But the altruists say it’s unfair these businesses have created so much, have produced so much, and have earned so much. The “American dream,” I’d say, is not one of giving your wealth away, nor is it about enabling those who choose, for some reason or another, not to. The American dream (and I’ll say this is, more deeply and philosophically, a human dream, a human right) is wholly individualistic. It’s about our individual right to choose to amount to something; it’s about our individual right to choose, on our own volition, to employ the talents we have to expound upon said talents; it’s about our individual right to pursue our own happiness, with reason as our means of perception. The Sam Waltons, or Bill Gates of the world should be viewed, not as immoral, “greedy, and selfish,” but as heroes, as producers, as the individuals who pursued their own self-interest and, in doing so, created millions of jobs, enhanced economies, raised standards of living.

If you think that is wrong, well, you’re simply crazy.

If you want to learn more about these ideas, about Ayn Rand, the failings of Altruism and Man’s rights, check out the links listed below:

The Psychology of Altruism
The Virtue of Selfishness: Why Achieving Your Happiness is Your Highest Moral Purpose

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