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Mar 19, 2009


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"Naturally, it would be comforting to know that if we lost our jobs tomorrow, strangers would be forced, against their will if necessary, to take care of us."

Would it be equally as conforting to those strangers?

The issue probably touches on the confusion, so prevalent in our society, of "rights" with "entitlements".

One of the basic human rights is surely the right to be left alone.

But the whole discussion hinges on what we mean by "rights". I believe that rights and duties go together. And we really can't talk about either rights or duties without talking about society. The lone woodsman has absolute rights and no duties (other than to himself).

I think that a lot of the things people call "rights" are things that other people - most commonly governments - can (and often do) take away from them.

Like water.

We went through that particular fight early on in this country - through the time of the cattleman and the rancher, up to the more recent time of California's Bill Mulholland, the guy who made Southern California an agricultural possiblilty.

Water is in the odd position of being the most common substance on Earth, and also the scarcest - in its drinkable form.

Where water is scarce, I'd bet that most of the problems come from the governments involved.

"Edwin Baker claims, “If the practices of the society indicate that certain things are necessary in order to be a full member, then the community must assure the provision of these things to all who are expected to be part of the community."

I wouldn't go so far as "provision". The end result of that is that eventually, everyone will be equally poor. What must be provided is the opportunity to get and share in these things. (The Founding Fathers recognized that when they wrote "the pursuit of happiness", not just "happiness". Unfortunately, they left it up to later generations to decide just what "happiness" means.)

Certainly any society claiming to be civilized owes its members certain basics (not the least of which is to stay in the tribe), and in return, the members owe the tribe (e.g., to help defend against attack, to go to war of necessary).

To keep going in the narrow example - water, wherever there's a shortage of something, it's either because Nature is indifferent to our presence, or someone has caused the shortage.

There will always be floods and famines, disease and disaster. Since that's out of our control, we can complain only to God.

When it's other people making the shortage, usually by monopolizing, and usually to profit from shortage, the usual route of complaint is to government. But when government is the culprit (as often happens on other continents), the people are left with only the first recourse.

A larger question is, suppose somebody (or some organization) declares that "clean water is a basic human right", what then? (Or more plainly, so what?)


"clean water is a basic human right", what then? (Or more plainly, so what?)

More taxes.

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