What are rights?
RIGHTS: What are they anyway?
What are Rights?
There are two types of right. Negative rights and Positive rights.
Put simply a negative right is the right to be left alone. Specifically it is the right to think and act free from the coercive force of others. Free from muggers, fraudsters and restrictive laws and taxes. A negative right is an absolute. You are either free from the above or you are not. even the slightest violation breaks this right. Imagine that a man stops you in the street once a week and forces you to stand still for one minute - hardly a life changing violation - yet your right to be free of the coercion of others is being broken. The degree to which this right is violated changes from place to place but I know of no country where it is not routinely violated by the state.
Remember that a person cannot claim this right while violating the same in others. A mugger cannot claim a right to be left alone whilst mugging people.
The kind of society where this right is prevalent is a society whose government exists only to protect the individual from the force of others. The American Constitution and Bill of Rights are the closest examples - which, sadly, modern day America is abandoning daily.
These are rights to something. A right to food, to healthcare, to education - whatever. The reality of a positive right is that whatever the object of the right is (eg healthcare), it needs to be created before the 'right' can be fulfilled. This creates an obligation upon others to create it and it is the basis for slave societies and statist dictatorhips. In the UK positive rights exist and each person who is taxed and restricted via legislation into providing the object of the right is working a proportion of his/her life as a slave. This may seem a bit extreme, but it isnt. Unless you agree entirely with your payment of every tax and everything the government then spends your money on, you are being forced to work for ends you have *not* given your consent to - just like a slave. Slavery was outlawed, but it crept back under the guise of the 'public good'.
The reason most people tolerate, or even give apathetic support to it, is because they are not thinking about which principles are being abandoned and which of their own rights they are giving up by doing so. Many people find the costs of obeying restricitive laws and paying 50% in tax irritating but, amazingly, no more than that. "Its not all that bad!" They might say - I would suggest turning back the tide of controls and restrictions now before it is terribly bad - it has happened in other countries, however naively you might imagine "it cant happen here". The answer is to ask, whenever some new scheme is proposed by the government, "at whose expense?" and you will find that the expense is your freedom.