Operative BJ brings the heat, taking the Czars late-night rant on Rights versus Privileges to an even simpler level of clarity:
Great and glorious Czar,
I plead forgiveness before asking: Does not the Constitution define the powers of the Federal government, and the Bill of Rights define limitations on those powers? Should not the statement “… legal rights not declared in the Constitution…” be instead “… legal rights not declared in the Bill of Rights…”?
Yes, exactly so. Or, as Confucius* sometimes puts it, Yea, verily.
This now-groveling one believes Roosevelt’s mistake in his “Second Bill of Rights” was to define wants and needs as rights. For example, the need for food, clothing, and shelter existed in Colonial times as much as today, yet neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights defined those needs as “rights.” Roosevelt appears to have taken the “general welfare” statement to mean more than “your rights end where my nose begins.” He reached beyond the founders’ understanding of the difference between “needs” and “rights” and commingled the two in an attempt (apparently successful) to redefine the view of The People toward their government. Thus began the redefinition – moral not legal – of “needs” and “wants” into “rights.”
Indeed, it is apparent that the founders recognized that government’s business was to provide a legal environment where The People could pursue “happiness” on their own terms without interference from a central government but with general consistency in law from state to state. To wit: some pursued “happiness” in the cities and towns of the east, where huge tomes of laws existed and where there were legally-enforced prohibitions against some behaviors (see Boston City Censor). Others pursued “happiness” by heading to the unsettled western (and unknown) territories where they could make laws consistent with the environment (e.g. Boston doesn’t need laws regarding ranchers’ water rights).
But in all cases, and wherever The People settled, the Federal government’s charter was to provide an environment where “happiness” could be pursued, and where “happiness” was defined by the individual – not the state. And, most importantly, where one individual did not have the power to define “happiness” for others. (No, I do not include the ownership of another human being as the definition of “happiness” – although my wife would differ in that opinion.)
And now, I grovel when examining the question of “right” vs “privilege” and whether the Federal government can define a “right” for one individual/corporation to purchase a product from another individual/corporation. Using your example, I question whether an airline passenger has a privilege to transportation from place to place via a regulated private-sector business, or whether that airline passenger has a want or need for that transportation. The FAA has defined certain rules regarding treatment of individuals who purchase a service from an airline (e.g. a “seat”), The FAA may grant a “license to operate” an airline, but that license comes from the power to regulate commerce, not from any rights defined in the Bill of Rights. Hence, if a “privilege” exists, has it not been granted to the airline – not the passenger?
After all, an ordinary citizen has no “right” to a driving license… although it appears that those who are in this country illegally, do.
But, I am not a lawyer.
Hence, let my beating now commence. This minion will be grateful and happier afterwards.
No, the Czar thinks you have it exactly right, especially about Roosevelt. And you example about illegals getting a license to drive in this country is a pristine example of what happens when you blur the definition of right to mean anything a voter wants.
Excellent summary, great exposition, and please write in more often!
*For those who came in late, Confucius is the Gormogons Œcumenical Volgi.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.