Yesterday, as the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted for the 30th time to repeal ObamaCare, Nancy Pelosi said:
“We put forth a vision for the middle class to make health care a right, not a privilege for all Americans. Today, as they have done more than 30 times this Congress, Republicans will vote to take away that right.”
Pelosi, among many of our legislators and politicians in general, displays a level of ignorance about rights and privileges that seems pretty basic to me. Governments don’t grant rights, they grant privileges no matter how hard they try to characterize what they do as a “right”.
A right, to be a right, must be inherent. It is something you have even before government shows up. The right to life. The right to liberty. As our founders identified these rights, they’re “inalienable”.
The best government can do, and the true foundation of a just government, is the acknowledge and protect our inherent rights. I.e government should exist to protect those rights.
Real rights are passive. They don’t require the assets, time, labor or commitment of others to enable their execution. Health care, of course, is a perfect example of a pseudo“right” which requires all of that.
Anything that government can give you (remember, we had the inherent rights I talk about before government existed and we formed the government to acknowledge and protect them – see founding documents) is not a “right.” And when government has to use it’s coercive power to “enable” these pseudo “rights” as it has in this health insurance debacle, it isn’t a right.
There is no right to health care. Period. There never has been. You have no inherent right to demand someone else use their skills, time and assets to service your health. You certainly have the right to negotiate and reach a voluntary agreement (see liberty) with health care providers based on a mutual exchange of value (see property). But “right” – no.
And besides, what Pelosi et al really cranked out was a requirement to buy health insurance via the coercive taxing authority of government. It no more guarantees health care as a right than the previous system. You still have to find a health care provider to accept your insurance and agree to treat you. In fact, it’s even tough to characterize the ObamaCare monstrosity as a government granted “privilege”.
Back to the point – this fundamental ignorance about rights and privileges, however, is at the root of many of our problems. For decades we’ve allowed government to get away with calling things it grants “rights” to the point that the concept of rights is so muddled that most people don’t understand them at all and have fallen for the government line.
Falling for that line helps enable horrific legislation like ObamaCare because it gives it cover, a veneer of "good” the proponents use to push their agenda. Who wouldn’t be for something that’s a “right”?
My point: Don’t let them misuse the word. Call people and politicians who do this out. Make them substantiate their claim of a right and when they can’t point out what is really going on. They’re talking about a privilege established by government coercion. That’s not freedom. That’s not liberty, two things you have a right to expect and something these privileges usually curtail.
It’s time to take back the political language. And there’s no better place to start with the understanding that government’s don’t and can’t grant rights.
The Supreme Court decided yesterday, in a narrow vote, that if you want to remain silent – and stop police from peppering you with questions – you have to say you wish to remain silent (and thereby legally end the police questioning).
Our newest Supreme Court Justice, Sotomeyer, dissented saying this ruling “turns Miranda upside down.”
“Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent — which counterintuitively requires them to speak,” she said. “At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded.”
That’s what happens when the word “right” is thrown around haphazardly as it is in today’s culture. What Sotomeyer is attempting to do (and what the court has done in the past) is imbue a legal privilege with the mantle of “right”. Telling someone they have the option of remaining silent has nothing to do with a right. It is a privilege our legal system has granted to those who’ve been arrested so they won’t incriminate themselves mistakenly.
There’s nothing wrong with requiring an acknowledgement that they wish to invoke the privilege of silence. There is likewise nothing wrong with assuming they aren’t invoking it by their silence. They must speak when they’re asked if they understand the Miranda warning, and they must speak to acknowledge their desire for a lawyer. There’s certainly nothing wrong with speaking to say you are invoking the legal privilege of silence.
It’s an “opt in” situation (just as speaking up for a lawyer). Otherwise, police are free to assume that privilege isn’t being used and can continue to try to question the suspect.
I see no right – in real terms – violated by this ruling. And I assume that the Miranda warning will be modified to say that the person arrested must clearly state they choose to be silent and that will be recorded or attested too. The simplest way is verbally followed up by a standard form invoking the privilege and signed by the defendant. I don’t see a problem there.
BTW, Elaina Kagen, now a SCOTUS nominee, had this to say about the case to the court as solicitor general:
“An unambiguous-invocation requirement for the right to remain silent and terminate questioning strikes the appropriate balance between protecting the suspect’s rights and permitting valuable police investigation.”