Thursday, February 14, 2008

31 votes of ignorance

Yesterday 31 of 31 Democrat state legislators in Oregon proved that they are utterly ignorant of the basic founding principle of our nation.

That is putting it charitably. To be less charitable, perhaps one could argue that these folks know and understand this basic founding principle, but reject it. In other words, they don't believe in America.

On the floor of the House yesterday they debated HJR 100, which basically declares affordable health care a fundamental right, and instructs the legislature to create a program to fulfill this right.

Declaring health care (or any other service government might wish to provide) as a "right" is to completely destroy the entire notion of individual rights, which quite literally is THE most fundamental underpinning of our Republic.

In our system, rights are things the government cannot do to you. They come from God, and it is the purpose of government to secure them. Rights are ALL, by definition, stated in the negative: "Congress shall pass no law abridging...."

This is the most important concept in our nations founding, because up til that time, it was assumed that the soverign was the source of rights, and the people had only such autonomy as the soveriegn saw fit to allow.

But if rights come from God, the government's relationship to the individual is quite different indeed: there are strict limits on the power of government over the individual.

So this notion of individual rights is quite literally the most important founding principle of our country. And 31 legislators, all of them Democrats, just announced that they don't believe in it.

No, they believe that a right can be something that the government must do for you. And so they voted to make affordable health care one of those rights.

When they try to explain their reasoning, things get wierd. The logic gets tortured to the point of their words becoming void of any meaning. Look what Rep. Ben Cannon said in the floor debate, pulled from The Funny Paper, explaining how he views rights:

"He said rights are grounded in allowing 'us to deliberate over and choose a good life for ourselves.' Health care is one such right."

This is utterly meaningless. He has managed to take a concept that is at the core of our founding, and tortured it to a point where it literally has no meaning. Rights are now "grounded" in "deliberation?" Anybody care to take a whack at what that might mean?

If this is all a right is, then is there anything that is NOT a right? I could argue pretty much every mundane thing in life is somehow related to my choosing a good life for myself.

This is far more than a semantic issue. It is not just nit picking definitions.

How can our rights be protected - and I mean our real rights - the rights we have FROM government actions, if our lawmakers destroy the very meaning of rights in the first place? Our nation has set itself apart from every other nation on God's green earth because our founders had the wisdom to realize that rights are vested in the individual, come from God, and put limits on the authority government has over the individual.

It is absolutely essential that this founding principle of our nation survives if we are to continue to exist as a nation. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT principle of our founding, without which we would have been in the dustbin of history along with all the other failed experiments.

And yesterday, 31 Democrat legislators told you precisely what they think of this principle. They don't believe in it, and they will actively work to change it.

In other words, they don't believe in America.


Anonymous said...

I suspect this is all unconstitutional. There is no "right" in the constitution that includes an affirmative need for someone else to pay for your use of it. For instance, I have a right to speak freely - but I can't sue Exxon if they refuse to provide me a grant to go on a nationwide speaking tour about the evils of Big Oil.

However, it would be interesting if it passed, as it would signal the end of the State of Oregon as a viable government entity. If government has an obligation to secure and pay for my "right" to health care, the requests for money will be 1 million times higher than the total Gross State Product, much less total government revenue.

RINO WATCH said...

This is Mitchell Greenlicks Legacy. Let's grant the Old Man his moment before this BS is deemed unconstitutional.

OregonGuy said...


Maybe they don't get it.

Push...shove. You do a thing...then other things happen. Even if unintended.

I don't think it's a repudiation of principle. I don't think they are smart enough for that. They have good ideas. They have vision.

In Oregon that passes for thinking things through.

Anonymous said...

"I suspect this is all unconstitutional."

Only until the Oregon voters add it to their constitution.

Or are you saying that the US Supreme Court would strike down what Oregonians want added to their state constitution? Only if it contradicts the US Constitution. Maybe so, but not sure. I'd have to think about it.

While I am pondering that, you can go on over to the BlueOregon site, and see how their discussion is going. They love the idea, and have thought up some more rights to be placed into the state constitution.

Steve Buckstein said...

As you state Rob, this is much more than a semantic issue. It sheds light on what our elected representatives understand about America’s founding principles.

Cascade Policy Institute board member Michael Barton and I testified against this resolution before Rep. Greenlick’s health care committee. Michael presented his classic commentary “Right” to health care violates individual rights and I whether health care is a “fundamental” right.

Our testimony did lead to a spirited discussion, but ultimately did not change any committee votes. If this resolution does make the ballot, hopefully Oregonians will make clear to our elected representatives that their job is to protect our legitimate rights, not invent new ones.

Anonymous said...


You're premise is only partly accurate. You are correct that the US Constitution acts as a limitation on the authority of the federal (and in some instances the state) government to restrict individual rights. As we all know from high school civics, Congress must find a provision of the US Constitution that acts as a grant of authority before they can pass a federal law, which is why the federal courts began to torture the meaning of the commerce clause in the 1930's to allow Congress to carry out FDR's new deal wet dreams.

But as courts across the country have noted, state legislatures have plenary power to enact whatever laws they want, subject only to the limitations of the state and federal constitutions. So in essence, the state legislature can create whatever "rights" for us it pleases, provided they aren't inconsistent with the state or federal constitution.

I don't get as upset with the language of the bill as you do, I just think the policy is wacky. In a way, I hope this stupid idea passes, as the torture it will produce for the Oregon legislature and the public when they see the price tag for this turd will be classic, and it won't be long before the public realizes what a dumb idea this is. Sometimes forcing people to implement socialism is the only way to get them to understand what a bad idea it is.

David Appell said...

> Rights are ALL, by definition,
> stated in the negative

Where exactly is this definition?

Effectively, the rights to free speech, assembly, free press, and review upon detainment are all "positive" rights. They grant actions to the citizens.

Health care is, in principle, no different. Except it's suitable for a 21st century government. Why must we be held to the mere ideas of 18th century thinkers?

Rob Kremer said...

No, you are wrong. These rights DO NOT "grant actions to the citizens." They pervent the government from restricting these actions.

So they are stated in the negative, because they deny the government the authority to restrict the rights.

Single said...

It's been said before but bears repeating: If health care is a right then what about housing. I can live longer without health care (normal world/normal life) than I can without adequate housing; so should we make adequate housing a right? How about food? Again, I can live longer without health care than I can without food, are we going to make food a RIGHT? Water, I can live longer without health care than I can live without water, yet we turn off the water to people who do not pay their water bill, are we going to make water a right and we can all just stop paying our water bill? Where does it stop?

Maybe the answer was on 60 minutes last night. A survey showed that Denmark was the happiest (or was it least stressed people) nation. The program tried to find out why, they did point out that people only worked 37 hour work weeks. People got 6 week vactions. People had free health care. People got paid to go to school and there was 6 months paid leave to bring up a new baby. It was also pointed out that they were taxed at 50% - maybe THAT is where these clowns want to go. News flash - if I liked the way they live in Denmark, I'd move there; in case you didn't notice, I didn't move. If you like the way they operate, then please feel free to move, quit trying to change MY country.