Civic Basics: What is a Right?


Still working my way through the Constitution – so far “rights” are listed as the right of life, liberty and property. I guessed the first two correctly, but didn’t think of the third as being a right – the right to own property. Hmm, as a Black American, I think I will always look sideways at the right to own property. But if I just consider its benign meaning, I’m ok with it.

Anyway, I realized that just reading about the founding rights was somewhat incomplete. After all, I am currently thinking about the current popular movements demanding free health care and a minimum wage as rights? Technically, don’t these fall under the right to life and if you stretch the definition, do a back flip and look side ways at this, the right to own property as well?. Maybe, but not quite.

Which is why I am glad that I stumbled over this video that explicitly defined what a right is.

Just in case this video is removed – here is a brief transcription of the pertinent audio of what is a right as defined by economist Walter Williams.

Currently, I am reading “The Black Book of Communism” and reading list after list of  incidents of violence, murder and terror to impose rules on others. Well, let’s just say that I am acutely aware of the horror of enforcing someone else’s standard on another individual.

“A right is something that exists simultaneously among people. A right does not confer any obligation on another.” – Walter Williams

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