Smart Questions About Rights

January 7, 2011

A. Barton Hinkle asks some very smart questions in his newspaper column “Debates of 2010 Raised More Questions.”

Treating the failure to take someone’s money away from him as if it were the same as giving money to him is a very funny way to talk. By contrast, we would never say that a childless couple had “given a child” to a family of four, simply because the childless couple did not kidnap one of the children from the other family. The liberal Democratic penchant for describing tax cuts as giveaways discloses an assumption: that people, especially rich people, have no right to their money to begin with. In fact, it is not really theirs. After all, you cannot give something to someone who already owns it.

I wish more newspaper columnists could write so clearly.

I address some of the issues and questions he raises in my essay “Saving Rights Theory from Its Friends,”* which is downloadable here and is also reprinted in Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice.

*Reprinted from Individual Rights Reconsidered: Are the Truths of the U.S. Declaration of Independence Lasting?, edited by Tibor R. Machan, with the permission of the publisher, Hoover Institution Press. Copyright 2001 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.

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