Negative vs. Positive Rights

The US Constitution was designed to create a republic with a weak central government and strong member states.  The Bill of Rights reflects this principle quite well, listing rights that the citizens inherently possess and the government cannot infringe upon.  Barack Obama has described the Constitution as having a “blind spot” in that it doesn’t specify the things that government must do for the citizens.  Look at FDR’s Second Bill of Rights for an example of what Obama would like the government to supply to the citizens.  These are confiscatory or “positive” rights that require the redistribution of the fruits of the labor, i.e. property, of one party to another party deemed to have a deficit of the same fruits.  Judge Andrew Napolitano gives us great explanation here:

Take housing as an example.  The negative right view of housing that we’re all familiar with is that you have option of finding housing proportionate to your willingness and ability to pay.  This can mean purchasing, renting, staying with family or living under a bridge.  A positive right to housing means that the government is obligated to provide you housing.  How is this to be accomplished?  How about things like electricity, water, natural gas and septic, which are all needed to make your government-supplied dwelling livable?

A system such as this would require a government body to weigh all the various and ever-changing needs of the people that come before it to demand housing.  Think about this: Once you have obtained your new pad, what is to prevent the commissars from deciding that some other family has a greater need for your house than you do and that you must decamp for another ‘home’ deemed more appropriate for your situation?

Liberty and freedom cannot survive such a regime.


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