That Unalienable Right to Your Neighbors' Labor
I laughed out loud when Mr. Obama's apologists (The Gray Lady) accused the Romney campaign of "last century" thinking. For it is 19th century thinking -- pre-Civil War thinking, yes even Dred Scott thinking -- to legislate rights that entitle someone to the labor of another without paying for them.
For example, it is slave plantation owner thinking to compel a hospital emergency room to provide skilled medical care, technology, and supplies (private property!) to anyone who presents themselves regardless of an ability to pay. Now if the hospital's owners wish to provide such care out of compassion (as most do) and resolve the cash flow shortages by finding subsidies or write-offs, that is their business. But to suggest every citizen is entitled to, or has a right to such labor and technology is to turn ancient basic morality on her ear and pretend stealing is a public virtue.
Similar to the Christian admonition to "turn the other cheek" - that's fine and good, if it your cheek. To compel your neighbor to turn their cheek is cruel and wicked. One may be as compassionate as one chooses - and no doubt sets a superb example. But to compel another to show compassion is tyranny and theft.
We must change the language of entitlements to destroy this antebellum, socialist plantation thinking, and solve the problem of runaway entitlement spending. Let's begin by calling things by their true meanings. Helping those who cannot pay for a public good or service is benevolence or charity -- not an entitlement, right, or social justice. We should rename all government programs that label and name non-wage direct payments to individuals National Benevolence Payments. For example, all Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security payments not backed by payroll contributions should be disbursed as "National Benevolence Assistance." While we're at it, limit these disbursements to a pay-as-you-go limit and remove the payroll deductions from the federal general fund and invest them. Under no circumstances other than an national existential emergency (physical invasion and war) allow such excess funds to be used for general fund purposes. In other words, there is not nor every will be an unfunded social security entitlement because what will be paid can never exceed what comes in. Let's move all forms of benevolent assistance to one federal department, enforce pay-as-you-go, and call this kindness what it is: the generous benevolence of a kind people to those unable to labor.
So ask you communist, liberal friends. "Do you have an unalienable right to your neighbors' labor?" Their answer will tell you what century they're living in.
Joseph Rosenberger is a previous contributor.