Rights Versus Entitlements

In one Facebook group, I was asked whether the so-called right to subsidized or publicly-funded education is actually a ‘right.’

The Occupy protesters feel they're entitled to the products of others... The Occupy protesters feel they’re entitled to the products of others…

To deal with the issue I had to distinguish between “rights” and “entitlements”. A lot of people are clueless, or do not have any idea, that rights and entitlements are two different entities or concepts. In fact, they are opposites. In today’s politics, it is the theory of “entitlements”– or the idea that people are entitled to government subsidized and funded welfare and services– that actually obliterates the proper concept of rights and destroys people’s freedom and future.

My answer is as follows:

Education and other state-funded welfare services are not a right because such alleged ‘rights’ arbitrarily impose obligation on others- or on the government- to provide the needs of the least advantaged or a group of parasitical individuals who feel they’re entitled to government protection or to the savings of their hardworking fellow citizens.

Rights are not supposed to impose obligation on others or on your neighbor. For instance, your right to food should not impose any form of obligation on the rich to provide you food. Your right to health care or housing or education should not oblige others to provide your those services by means of state action or intervention (e.g., taxation, regulation, preferential treatment, etc.).

The so-called rights to education, health care, transport, housing, food, etc. that we unfortunately have in our Constitution are, strictly speaking, NOT rights, but ENTITLEMENTS. There’s a big difference between RIGHTS and ENTITLEMENTS.

Examples of entitlements are food stamps, government housing projects, government health care, government-funded education, socialized medicines, government subsidized transport, etc. Entitlements solely, primarily depend on political intervention and the availability of government budget or resources. This means that without enough or allocated state budget, a government may not be able to realize some of its entitlement programs. This is the very reason why the lunatic proponents and fanatical supporters of the Reproductive Health bill claimed that opposing the passage of the socialistic bill is tantamount to denying or depriving people of their alleged “RH rights”, to be funded and guaranteed by the government through an arbitrary law.

As to the controversial RH bill issue, RH care is not a right; it is an entitlement. To claim that millions of people are denied of their alleged right to RH care and services in this country is to shamelessly assume that certain social sectors, industries or individuals must be sacrificed in the name of the greater good. What the RH proponents and supporters are trying to say is that if you don’t have something (e.g., food, education, medicine, health care, housing, etc.), you must have been deprived of your right. Such kind of mentality merely proves that the country’s welfare statists are intellectually bankrupt and too clueless to understand that they are, in reality, anti-rights and anti-freedom. Rights do not require public immolation or any kind or form of sacrifice. Entitlements do.

The clueless primitives of the Occupy for RH woodstock... The clueless primitives of the Occupy for RH woodstock…

It is impossible to argue with this naive, anti-conceptual breed of statists who do not understand the proper concept of rights and freedom. Such ‘entitled’ people believe that rights and freedom clash with each other. They don’t. (I discussed this issue HERE). In fact the only way to deal with them is to be sarcastic and tell them: “I do not have have Ipad2, Iphone 4S, housemaid and BMW car, am I deprived of any of these goods?” What’s the difference between a pack of condoms and Ipad2? They’re both commodities. It’s just that some RH bill lunatic might argue that condoms are a social necessity because they prevent the continued rise of ‘overpopulation’; an Ipad2 can’t and doesn’t. What they mean to say is that something automatically becomes a necessity if it is implored or begged by a group of parasites who brazenly call themselves the “public” or “anti-poverty advocates”, or any pleasant-sounding name or label. And: what they really mean to say is that something, which necessarily requires the use of government force, becomes a public good if it is enforced by law. Well, this is the kind of collective mentality that bankrupted the Weimar Republic prior to the rise of the Nazis in Germany. (See related articleHERE).

A “right” simply means freedom of action in a social context. A “right” is a moral concept. It is NOT a social convention or mystical concoction. The source of rights is man’s nature as a volitional, rational animal. Lower animals are not rational, volitional, and moral creatures. The fundamental difference between a man and a horse or a dog or a tiger or an ape is the ability to think rationally and to distinguish right from wrong. Man does not survive by the mere use of his physical prowess like all animals do. He survives by using his mind. The ‘use’ of man’s mind is the reason why we ascended from our primitive past thousands of years ago to build a great civilization unparallelled in human history. This process of human survival and progress is Man’s volitional, active application of ethics or morality. In reality and strictly speaking, Ethics or Morality is not grounded in religion or mystical revelation. Like rights, ethics is grounded in man’s nature.

Throughout history, Man was guided by Ethics or its operative process of “right” and “wrong”. Over 2,000 years ago Aristotle discovered the concept of Ethics. He postulated that Man needs ethics for his survival. That is, by his nature Man ought to have Ethics or Morality because he isMan. Incidentally, this statement solves David Hume’s IS-OUGHT problem. The discovery and invention of wheel, chariot, spear, iron, bronze, sword, bricks, agriculture, etc. was solely due to Man’s use of his mind and was guided by his actual application of ethics. America’s discovery of capitalism is the founding fathers’ application of Ethics. Ethics simply means Man, in order to survive, ought to properly act according to his nature and reality– because he is Man. Man cannot go against his nature and reality. Otherwise, he won’t be able to survive.

Others might argue: “Well, that’s NOT ethics because what you’re saying is NOT biblical. Morality is supposed to refer to man’s good (e.g., being generous or charitable, etc.) and evil actions like the acts of killing, stealing, disrespect of parents, etc.”

The premise is partly right. The problem is that the source of this religious ethics is an unknowable entity in an unknowable, supernatural realm. Whatever this supernatural entity saysconstitutes morality or ethics. But YES, the acts of murder, theft, robbery, plunder, and cheating are immoral or unethical because they are anti-Man. This is why the formation or establishment of a just and moral government is a by-product of real-life, actual application of ethics and Man’s rationality. A just government is created to ensure order and to protect individual rights and freedom. Again, Ethics is the volitional, active process of Man’s survival. The discovery of all technologies that benefit man’s life today was actively guided by the operative concept of “right” and “wrong”, so was the discovery and implementation of objective criminal justice system and the proper concept of rights. 

Now the fundamental categories of rights are the right to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. Your right to life includes you right to build your own home, to feed yourself, to get education provided you pay for it, to see a doctor, etc. Your right to property means you’re entitled to the fruits of your labor; that you have a right to keep your savings and/or invest the same. Your right to liberty includes your right to travel, to change residence, to be free from undue government surveillance, to due process, to counsel, etc.

Rights are NOT limited by government’s budgetary constraints. They don’t depend on the availability or non-availability of public funds.


  • Rights do NOT require state’s positive action. Entitlements do. As to rights, the only duty of the government is to BACK OFF. Examples of entitlements: Food stamp that requires government’s action to raise taxes, to regulate, and to give handouts to people.
  • Rights do not require state budget. Entitlements do. I gave examples above.
  • Rights do NOT impose any form of obligation on others. Entitlements do. A good example is socialized health care or the RH bill. Socialized health care imposes obligations on certain sectors (e.g., employers, health care providers, etc.) to serve the welfare of the poor. The state may force doctors and businesses.
  • Rights ought to be protected by the government. Take note the word PROTECT. Your right to life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness are being protected by the BILL OF RIGHTS. Entitlements are welfare provisions. How can a government protect a poor man’s right to food if it violates the right of another man?
  • Rights are NOT entitlement. NO one is entitled to the products and wealth of others.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s