What Gives You the Right?

Have you considered what gives you the right to do what you do?  Specifically, what gives you the right to take from someone the fruits of his labor?

You may reply that you don’t have that right. I agree, but how about this question: What gives you the right to delegate to someone else a right you don’t have?  You say you don’t have that right? Again, I would agree. So then, consider, what if you take a vote among your neighbors and 51% vote to take the Mercedes from the guy at the end of the block and share it among yourselves? Again, you say you don’t have that right and of course I agree.

I believe that if I progress to a large enough group of people, let’s say the entire state in which you live, to vote for the measure, I’ll eventually get you to say that you do indeed have that right. Now we’re talking Democracy!

The reality of the situation is that you vote for a representative to vote for measures to take the money from your neighbor that might be used to pay for a Mercedes. Or he might choose to pay for college for his daughter, or take a vacation, or help fund his retirement, or pay for medical care for his elderly mother, or whatever other thing he would prefer to do with his money, with his property

That’s exactly what you do every time you vote for a representative in a government body who has the power to take from others the fruits of their labors.

And what gives you the right? 

You might respond that that’s democracy, the greatest political system ever invented by man. Or as Winston Churchill said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

And there I’ll have to disagree. Democracy can be illustrated by two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. Or, to put a crude spin on it, democracy is best illustrated by gang rape. Democracy has nothing to do with rights and in fact, is not better than any other political system for protecting rights. According to Hans Herman-Hoppe, it has proved itself to be wholly inadequate to the task and has been a root cause of what might be the most horrible century in the history of mankind as measured by war, misery, and the destruction of property, society, and lives. 

Democracy gives millions of people the justification to do things they would never think of doing on their own, but that somehow become perfectly acceptable when delegated to someone else. But logically and by definition, a right you do not hold individually cannot be delegated to someone else. I can’t personally threaten someone at gunpoint and take half of his income to spend on what I think is a better use of that money. Nevertheless, through the magic of democracy, I and 51% of others within a population under the control of a State or other political structure, can hire (with money stolen from others) people with guns and other forms of life-threatening force (police, Treasury agents, and countless other government officials) to coerce others to comply with our desires, whether that might be to give us their money, or associate with people with whom we believe they should associate, or rent their privately-owned property to those they’d rather not, or any number of other actions. In fact, I cannot and would not personally do any of those things myself, knowing that I have no moral right to do so. But as if by magic, using democracy I can legally do horrific things to others because I have convinced 51% of people within my political sphere to agree to them.

With democracy, you can have the legal right to violate any number of personal rights. But again I ask, what is the source of your moral right and authority? What gives you the moral authority to authorize others to steal for you through income taxes? To keep people apart who would like to be together? To keep people together who would prefer to be apart? To kill people who have never threatened you? To do or prohibit any number of things with the tens of thousands of laws and regulations, the extent of whose effects not one person on the face of the Earth can possibly know or understand? 

You might answer, “That’s just how things are. Someone has to make the rules. Someone has to decide what we can and can’t do. That’s what maintains an orderly society. We all have certain rules we have to live with. We can’t just all do what we want.” 

I can imagine two hundred years ago when a slave might ask you, “Who gives you the moral authority to shackle me and force me to do your bidding? To take from me the fruits of my labors? To keep me from the people I love? You would tell him, “That’s just how things are. Someone has to make the rules. Someone has to decide what we can and can’t do. That’s what maintains an orderly society. We all have certain rules we have to live with. We can’t just all do what we want.” 

It’s time to start imagining a different way. We might not all think we’re living in the best of all possible worlds, but we accept the injustices and crimes committed in our names, thinking that this is just the price of civilization. We’ll make it better when we finally vote in the representatives of our party, those good and honest people who will finally right all wrongs. Government parties have changed, philosophies of governments have changed, the players on the world’s government stages have changed, but the institution of government itself has continued to grow and take more power while diminishing the rights of individuals. The government’s schools teach millions of people that the form of democracy in these United Sates is the best of all possible worlds and we have to support our government no matter what. Further, we have to force our form of democracy on other countries and cultures, even at gunpoint, because the end justifies the means.

The end, never stated, is simply more government control.

And all the while, no one seems to ask, what gives you the right?  

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