My Point of View: Defining every privilege as a right is surest way to lose rights

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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My Point of View by Brad Kramer

What is the role of government? Before deciding how to vote, we should at least be able to articulate our basic beliefs.

Brad Kramer

One of government’s primary roles is to protect the people. Most notably, we think of protecting us from terrorists and other nations, so we have a strong military. We also look to government to protect our individual rights, both from infringements from our fellow citizens, as well as from government itself. If someone tries to take from you what is rightfully yours, government is supposed to have a role in restoring justice, whether it’s through the courts providing a means to judge the situation, or through law enforcement and prosecutors taking on the role of restoring justice.

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What is a right? When we’re discussing rights and liberties, a core requirement is that it must not obligate another person to do or not do something. For example, I have the right to express myself under the right of free speech. I do not have the right to force you to listen to me or give me a platform. I cannot compel you to agree with me nor speak of me in a certain way. If I showed up on your doorstep demanding you hear me, you would be well within your rights to slam the door in my face. It likewise protects government from censoring the speech between citizens or only allowing us access to what it deems as speech that might be more free than others (remember Animal Farm?).

Is health care a basic human right? The compassionate and humanitarian side of me exclaims, “Yes! Of course!” What does that mean in practice, though? Does it mean that I have the right to basic treatment of immediate life-saving care, such as resuscitation from a heart attack? Or does it mean that I’m owed any medical procedure I demand, whether life-threatening or elective, regardless of my ability to pay? Can someone be compelled to provide medical care, such as forcing a doctor to perform an abortion that they believe is immoral? If there is a shortage of health care providers, is government tasked with filling those roles by conscripting citizens or taking over management of those roles or rationing who gets what treatment? Who is responsible for paying?

This is a tough moral dilemma that must be worked through. What is the value of human life when you must pay what can easily be six to seven figures for medical treatment?

Medical treatment is very expensive in many cases and simply adopting a stance that everyone should have access to the level of treatment they desire will quickly bankrupt our economy.

My freedom of speech ends where your rights begin. Government cannot restrict what I say, with few exceptions, such as the courts using the example of yelling, “fire!” in a crowded theater, which would endanger lives, or when that speech includes obscenities or threats, for example. My rights don’t end because of your emotions, and vice-versa. I am also not free from the consequences of my speech. For example, I know there are businesses in the community that do not work with me because of my political views, and there are businesses or people I will not do business with for the same reason. My speech is not required to make you feel good, affirm who you believe you are or align with your values. As a decent human being, we should not simply go around insulting people, but we must also have the ability to stand to our principles or speak when we disagree.

As Americans, we’ve gotten very flippant throwing around the word “rights” and “liberties” without defining what they are. We talk about the “right” to health care without defining not only the right, but the obligations that come along with that right. If someone else must pay for or secure my “rights,” it fails the basic definition of a right. I encourage you to think about the many rights you have as an American, which our Founding Fathers wisely defined as coming from our creator, not government, because if our rights come from government, government can take them away. Rather than stopping with what you feel you are owed or free to practice under that right, take time to research and ponder where your right ends and your neighbor’s begins. That is basic citizenship and should be a part of your thinking process as you consider how to vote. Simply defining every privilege we have in America, as the most free and prosperous society in world history, as a right, is the surest way for us to lose our rights.

Americans before us died to secure our rights. It’s our moral duty to practice, defend, and have meaningful understandings of our rights.

Brad Kramer is a member of the Freeborn County GOP Party.