AXIOM #3 Human needs are NOT human rights.
Society is doing all those who are homeless, poor, disabled, unemployed, and whoever else you wish to place under the banner of ‘those who do not have access to sufficient basic necessities’, a disservice by treating these basic necessities as ‘human rights’. This disservice is primarily because first, by treating them as human rights it forces them into the political spectrum where they will never be fully recognized and respected, and second, they are not ‘rights’ at all because they are responsibilities which society has already placed on individuals.
To treat housing, clothing, food etc as a ‘right’ and then in the same breathe say that everyone must pay for them and therefore compete for them, is the same as saying we all must pay and compete for the right not to speed in our car or murder. It is hypocritical to, on the one hand, enforce all those laws such as the laws against trespass, public nuisance, indecent exposure, begging, dumpster diving etc, not to mention neglecting to provide adequate provisions including health and education for one’s children, and then on the other hand force everyone to compete for the very resources which will enable them to adequately fulfill these laws.
For the purposes of this article, I am only concerned with those resources which every individual and/or family ‘must’ by virtue of all the laws of our land, have access to in order not to place themselves at a heightened risk of breaking the law. This means for an individual, at minimum housing, clothing, food, and whatever resources required to maintain both themselves and the dwelling they occupy; for a family with children, all of the above plus education for their children and whatever resources required to provide that education.
A basic need such as housing is only ever a ‘right’ when that housing is treated as a commodity, to be bought and sold, and profited from. But from the purely utilitarian perspective it makes no sense to treat housing as a right except to the extent that it enables one to fulfill the law. Using the ‘speeding in the car’ analogy again, it is the same as saying, you have a bare right not to be forced to speed in your car by some over-bearing maniac. If some car-jacker gets in your car, points a gun to your head and says drive as fast as you can, you can hardly be expected to be held responsible if your car gets caught on some speed camera. By this same token, the only true right (if you need to call it a right) is not housing, clothing etc, it the right to fulfill the law; it is the right not to be prohibited from fulfilling the law; it is the right not to be discriminated against as to how you fulfill the law; it is the right not to be pushed toward breaking the laws of trespass, public nuisance, indecent exposure, begging, dumpster diving etc on account of you lacking the desire to compete.
Why does society feel the need to treat these basic ‘necessities’ as rights? The reason we call them necessities is because they are necessary in every sense of the word. They are necessary physically, they are necessary emotionally, they are necessary socially, and most important of all, they are necessary legally.
If we want to take this one step further, think about the duties of a trustee. Any individual or corporation which takes on the duty of a trustee takes on higher responsibilities. If this trustee becomes conflicted, confused, or in doubt as to what their duties are in relation to the trust, not only do they have the power to seek advice, they are in fact bound by law and thus have a’duty’ to seek advice, often-times from the courts itself. In other words, it is silly to treat the ability to seek advice from the courts as some right of the trustees when in fact it is a trustees duty and a duty the law enforces quite strictly. Why are we not treating our human necessities in the same fashion? Instead, we treat them as property to be competed over within a political arena which makes absolutely no sense for those who do not wish to or have the skills to compete.
Further, for the purposes of this article, I am also only concerned with those who, for whatever reason, do not possess the skills, whether intellectually, physically, or emotionally, to maintain the discipline which is ’employment’. It is obvious that many lack this discipline, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that there will always be a certain percentage of the population who will lack this discipline. Unfortunately, because there seems to be a lack of vision among our academics, we are trying to force these undisciplined into a discipline they are not equipped to fulfill. Their disciplines lie elsewhere but due to societies fixation on economics and politics, these other disciplines have no value to most.
There should be a choice whether to compete for resources or not, subject to the condition that if you choose not to compete for them you can’t own them. It’s as simple as that but this choice does not exist today except in limited situations. In other words, society will provide some form of welfare if the recipient applies for it but it is almost always subject to the condition that eventually they will find some form of ’employment’. Society has created a stigma in relation to the employment discipline. If you lack this discipline you are deemed worthless, a drain on tax-payers, and so forth. What is ironic about forcing this discipline on everyone is that what started our as a fight against the wealthy in the form of a common law right of individual autonomy and the right to compete and earn a living, has now become an infringement on this very same right. In other words, competition and employment was once a free and unconditional choice; today employment and competition is forced upon you making a mockery of any so called individual autonomy.
If you do not wish to be compete and to be employed and hold others legally accountable, and you are willing to give up the benefits that this brings (money, wealth, home ownership) then I see no economic, political, legal, moral, or religious reason why you should be prevented from fulfilling the law.