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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ruminations of an Old Goat

With rights come obligations. We all understand that, don't we? With freedom of speech comes the obligation to refrain from slander. With freedom of religion comes the obligation to respect the religious choices made by others. With freedom of assembly comes the obligation to behave in a responsible and respectful manner towards others, their possessions and their property. With the right to bear arms comes the obligation to use those arms safely, either for individual defense or against a tyrannical government. (Don't tell the government about that last one. They don't believe in it.)

We all recognize and respect those obligations inherent in the rights our forefathers claimed for themselves and us. Now, as we watch our rights expanding almost on a daily basis, we need to consider the new obligations inherent in these new rights.

What are the obligations for the new right to affordable housing? First, there's the obligation to buy a smaller house than you might want or need. After all, if you waste all of your money buying a house bigger than you really need, you'll have less money to pay for the houses of those less fortunate than you. You know, the people who spend every single dollar they earn as they get it? The ones who have a really flashy new car and who sneer at your ten year old car. The ones who have all the latest video game systems, a fifty inch high def TV, a wall full of Blu-Ray DVDs and six hundred channels available on cable. The ones who pack all of that into a little one bedroom apartment because that's all they can afford after paying all their credit card bills. Yes, you owe it to those people to live well within your means so they can live beyond theirs.

Let's not forget the right to a living wage. This one is tough, as what constitutes a living wage is going vary depending on where you live. But there's no doubting that people have a right to be paid enough to support themselves and their family. Just because you studied hard in high school, went to college, studied hard, graduated and got a good paying job doesn't mean you weren't a winner in life's lottery. Just because the unfortunate ones partied in high school, dropped out of community college and were unable to keep their jobs as unskilled laborers doesn't mean they don't deserve to earn more money just for sweeping floors. Now you owe doubly to those people, so live even more within your means so you can afford to pay more to receive less.

Now we come to the biggest new right of them all; the right to free health care! What obligations do you have to ensure others can enjoy this right? Once again, you have the obligation to live well within your means -- even more than before -- so those people without insurance can have insurance provided for them. It doesn't matter if those people are illegal aliens. It doesn't matter if those people have access to other government provided coverage but haven't bothered to sign up for it. It doesn't even matter if those people are earning a comfortable living on their own and have simply decided to go without health insurance so they can have more disposable income. It's your obligation to spend less so they can spend more!

But the right to free health care goes beyond simple monetary issues. You have an obligation to lead a healthy lifestyle so you won't become a burden to your fellow citizens. You owe it to them to eat less, to exercise more, to stop smoking or never start. You owe it to them to use up as little of the free health care as possible so there will be more free health care available for them.

Finally, when you're old enough that there will only be a few years of benefit to be gained from your free health care, you have an obligation to die and stop using health care all together.

It seems to me that these new rights put a lot of obligations on me without actually providing anything I want. Since no one forces you to use free speech or to bear arms or to partake in any of our other rights, I'm sure the government will understand if I simply choose to opt out of these new rights.

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