2018 Election, Civil Liberties, Governor's Race 2018, Jon Caldara

For Jared Polis, human rights requires both makers and takers

If polling is right, Jared Polis is in the lead to become our next governor. Are Coloradans signaling they’re just craving free healthcare, free preschool and all renewable energy like Polis is promising in every commercial? While voters might elect Polis, polling also suggests they’ll use the same ballot to say they don’t share all his turn-us-into-California dreams.

Current polling shows both of the massive state-wide tax increase proposals, a 21 percent sales tax hike for mystery transportation projects and a progressive income tax income for education, are dying fiery deaths (I’m a proponent of the Fix Our Damn Roads without a tax increase proposition). And the fracking ban Prop 112 (basically what Jared supported a few years ago), is losing support and will likely fail. And, in the most accurate poll of all, two years ago Colorado voters destroyed a ballot issue to provide healthcare for all by a blistering 80 to 20 percent.

But Polis insists “Healthcare is a human right.”

Either my understanding of human rights is completely wrong, or Polis’s understanding of the English language is.

I thought human rights are guarantees through natural law that you can do some things even if the society around you wants to stop you. Those activities, and the beliefs behind them, can’t be ripped from you even if you’re in the political minority. The government can’t force a religion on you, can’t take away your speech and expression, your ability to assemble, petition, own firearms. Government can’t take property without due process, inflict cruel punishment.

The new progressive “human rights” means the people around owed you stuff, and to that end government has to transfer it from them to you.

What stuff? Beyond Polis’s healthcare, other progressives declare it’s food, shelter and clothing.

I’ve always thought providing those things to those in need is wise policy, something a wealthy and generous people strive to realize. But I don’t see how anyone has a God-given right to the produce of other people’s work.

Let’s try it this way. If it is a “human right” it must be true no matter the size of the community, whether we’re talking about a community of 300 million people in our country, or 6 million in our state, or 100 in our small town. Hell, a human right is undeniable even if there is only three of us in the entire universe. It’s a (expletive) human right after all, so it’s inalienable.

Something doesn’t become a right only when we reach a certain population level.

That certainly holds true for what’s listed in our U.S. Bill of Rights. In a society of only three people it would still be a violation of human rights for two of them to force the third into a religion, or restrict his speech, take his guns, punish him cruelly.

But the new progressive view of human rights, where a guarantee of goods and services at someone else’s expense is a birthright, well, that just doesn’t hold up in this thought experiment.

If it is a right then one person out of our fictional society of three could demand healthcare, food, shelter and clothing, and the other two must provide him that human right. It’s not a freedom for the first person to do something the others don’t like, it’s a liability for the other two to provide.

And what if two people demand their new human rights be provided by the remaining one? We can’t demand someone work before they receive their rights. Then it is not a right, because rights aren’t conditional.

And if all three demand their rights? There’d be no one to produce any human rights for any of them.

How could there be humans yet be no human rights?

In other words, these new progressive human rights are completely conditional on other people providing for them. And that blows my tiny little non-progressive brain because HUMAN RIGHTS ARE UNCONDITIONAL, OTHERWISE WE WOULDN’T CALL THEM HUMAN RIGHTS.

By the way, this thought experiment is playing itself out on different real-world policy stages, like Social Security where it now takes three people working to support one retiree. That is expected to drop to two people per one retiree by 2030. By contrast in 1945 it was 41 workers per one retiree.

In Polis’s Colorado will you be the producer of human rights for others, or the taker of human rights?

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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