I will begin by once again providing the disclaimer that the political series is my opinion on how things should be, and not necessarily a reflection of the way things are. I say this because it is inevitable that someone will read something they will say is impossible in the current political climate, or unrealistic to change because of who controls the yadda yadda. That’s not my point. I’m merely stating my personal beliefs on the matters at hand as I feel they should be.
That said, please comment! I want to know what you agree with, what you don’t and why. I consider this an evolving set of beliefs, and not something set in stone. I want multiple viewpoints so I can adjust when needed, or polish and strengthen my own beliefs. Without dialogue there is no growth.
It took me a long time to get this particular post off the ground. Not because I had nothing to say. Quite the contrary. Rather, I have been struggling to find ways to organize it and present it concisely. Furthermore, I had originally planned on introducing topics slightly differently. My new plan is to write each post as one of my “Fundamental Political Beliefs” until I have covered the wide variety of topics I set forth at the start of this thing. We’ll see if it all pans out.
No matter. Let’s just get started!
My first political belief is:
“Rights are naturally inherent to the state of being, and that the role of the Government is primarily to uphold, protect, and enable these rights.”
I begin with Rights and the role of government because I feel these are fundamental to how I approach all of the others. In fact, it is so fundamental that it will be hard to write about it without devolving into some sort of survey of the whole of my political series. It can be tempting to think that this is too basic. What is there to argue over? Clearly, people agree on this basic tenet in America, right? (To be clear – as I live in America, I am approaching this topic primarily from my perspective as an American.)
Well, yes, it should be obvious and a given, but you never know, right? I mean, Trump is the Republican frontrunner as I write this. Apparently anything is possible. Beyond that, however, I think the real argument comes when we did into the specifics of what rights people have, what they “mean,” and how they interact with one another. So, first I will explain my theory on where Rights come from, how they interact with one another, and why I have a “Hierarchy of Rights,” and what I mean by it. After I do that, I will list each right as I perceive them as existing, or as I believe they should be acknowledged to exist. I won’t describe each one, as I feel their description would be important for future discussions (and I would be at this forever), so I should just save those conversations for later. Finally, I will describe what I believe the role of government should be in a little bit more detail.
Rights are natural. They come from the fact of existence. I might personally attribute the fact of existence, and thus the presence of my rights, to God, but for the purposes of this discussion, they are simply because we are. By the fact that these rights are held by all individuals, and individuals come into conflict with one another, it is inevitable that to some extent, one person’s rights may interfere with another’s. Because one’s rights come not from status, but rather the fact of existence, status does not allow one’s rights to nullify another’s rights. Instead, every individual has equal natural measure and claim of rights. Every individual’s rights extend to the beginning of another’s.
For instance, two individuals have the right to thought and expression, commonly called the “freedom of speech.” However, if their rights come into conflict, if they both speak in opposition to the other, they both have the right to speak their opposition, but not to the point that they drown out or otherwise disenfranchise the speech of the other.
For the sake of that example, I gave the account in a vacuum, but rights do not exist in a vacuum. For instance, when the right to privacy and the right to hold property are introduced, this allows one to limit the speech that they hear within their own private property. So one may have speech on that private property, while the other does not, all due to the other rights. However, in the public sphere, everything else being equal, their speech may not unduly overrule the other. When considering rights and the conflicts between them, it is important to consider the impact of all appropriate rights upon the instance in question.
The exact balance, the golden mean, of the extent of two conflicting individual rights may be decided upon in a court of law under the guidance of those principals.
Not all rights are individual rights, however. For this reason, I have split the rights, as I see them into a hierarchy, with level one being the greatest and level four being the lowest. The greater the level, the higher standing the set of rights. This hierarchy would be used in a court of law to further delineate where rights begin and end.
I think that in several cases you might see some familiar language. I began my list by consulting other lists of human rights, particularly those in the United States Bill of Rights. Because of that you might occasionally hear something like this – “The enumeration of certain rights listed here are not to be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Which is both my example and a true statement about the list below. Bam! Two birds with one stone.
One final note, there are “Consequence Rights” which is to say that they are rights that come as a natural consequence of their parent right. They are labeled with letters, and if they are referenced elsewhere they would be referred to by their number and letter (for example, Right 4a). To some degree all of the rights could be considered a consequence of another. It could even be argued that they are all consequences of the right to life. For our purposes, however, consequential rights tend to be legal rights(that is dealing with legislative determination) that have been enshrined as inalienable under the banner of the natural right from which they spring.
The levels are:
- Level 1: Sentient Individual Rights –
These are the rights of every sentient being, regardless of age, biological configuration, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, species, race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, religion, marital status or socioeconomic status. The only way that a right may be breached or suspended by government is if an individual has broken a law, in which case the right to liberty and others as appropriate may be suspended.
Yes, I opened that up to a wider range. I’m trying with this list to be open to various future possibilities. For one, biological configuration based off of where technology is headed in terms of gene manipulation as well as biotech integration and the potential for cyborgs. I included species in case we ever run into aliens, or if another Earth based species were to prove sentiency, however likely or unlikely that may be. The rest should be familiar.
- Level 1: Consequential Rights (Legal Rights)
As I said above, these are usually legal rights that I believe spring naturally from a natural right which would be their parent right.
- Level 2: Public Rights
Public Rights refers to the rights of the public as a whole. This is not to say that an individual does not have these rights, rather that the general application would typically involve the public as a group or a sub-group.
- Level 2: Consequential Rights (Legal Rights)
Same as before. Legal rights that are birthed from a parent right.
- Level 3: Rights of the Natural World
I firmly believe that sentient beings are not the only things with rights. We may consider them lesser, but we may not ignore their existence. These rights consider the rights of individual animals, groups of animals, and the environment. The fact is, protecting these rights further protects the rights of those above as well. The right to life may be seriously impaired, for instance if the natural world is destroyed.
- Level 4: Rights not Mentioned Here and Further Legal Rights
I don’t have any specifics to add here. This is mostly a catch all for anything not mentioned here, like the Constitution itself considers. It also includes specific legal rights that may be further down the tree from the rights listed above. For instance, legal rights surrounding adoption, visiting ill family members, etc. Might all fall under this category.
Level 1 Rights: (Sentient Individual Rights)
- The right to life, and physical and mental wellbeing.
- A.) The consequential right to the basics mess editors of life, these being clean and safe nutritional sustenance, water, and shelter.
- B.) The consequential right to health care. How this is guaranteed would be up to the best judgement of elected officials.
- C.) The consequential right to self defense when under threat, and to bear reasonable arms for this defense as determined by law.
- D.) The consequential right to leisure, relaxation and play.
- The right to biological self-determination.
- A.) The consequential right to die upon terminal prognosis, or when the right to wellbeing can no longer be achieved as assessed by at least two accredited medical physicians.
- B.) The consequential right to modify one’s own anatomy and physiology.
- C.) The consequential right for adults to consume, imbibe, or otherwise absorb any substance so long as it can be expected for them to have or have been able to learn the full knowledge of the consequences, excepting when this act directly or indirectly endangers another.
- The right to liberty.
- A.) The consequential right to be free from slavery or indentured servitude.
- B.) The consequential right to protection from unfair or unlawful detainment.
- C.) The consequential right to the freedom to move or travel.
- The right to free religious practice, and freedom from the application of religious practice.
- The right to free thought and free expression.
- A.) The consequential right to democratically elected representation in the apparatus of the social contract. – This gives the foundation for expression through government elections. It is what allows government to happen. The exact shape of the government is not specified, except in that it be democratic and representative. I use “the apparatus of the social contract” instead of government because I want it transcend petty disagreements about what exactly constitutes “government,” and instead focus on the nature of it’s construction, that being whatever takes shape in the form of some sort of societal leadership or rule – whatever contract has been made across society between all its members.
- B.) The consequential right for citizens to vote for all representative offices of the government, and to have that vote be cast as a single transferable vote, and for their vote to be cast by secret ballot. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI
- C.) The consequential right to freely hold and express beliefs, religious or otherwise.
- The right to access and use of justice and the law.
- A.) The consequential right to equality before the law.
- B.) The consequential right to a speedy public trial before an impartial jury of peers from the the State and district wherein the crime was committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against the accused; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in the accused’s favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for legal defence.
- C.) The consequential right to not be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled by violence or the threat of violence in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
- D.) The consequential right that, in suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed one twentieth of the living wage for a month’s work wherein the state or district the crime was committed, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
- E.) The consequential right that excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel, inhumane, or unusual punishments inflicted.
- F.) The consequential right to being treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
- The right to have and hold private property, and to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, electronic devices, future technologies of a similar purpose to the aforementioned, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, and no Warrants shall be issued without probable cause supported by Oath or affirmation, or without particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- A.) The consequential right for private property to not be seized for public use without just compensation no less than twice the property’s value.
- The right to social, political and economic opportunities for the betterment of their persons and property. – This one could be considered controversial because when combined with Right 12 is gives the government far more power to engineer the social order in the favor of the disenfranchised. I feel that it is absolutely necessary for a just and fair society, however, and is reflected in the U.S. Declaration of Independence when it says that people have the right to “the pursuit of happiness.”
- A.) The consequential right to just wages appropriate to the work’s value and effort, with no less than an annually adjusted living wage as determined by law in each of the several States.
- B.) The consequential right to pursue desirable employment free of interference, or social or economic pressure of others, including from previous or current employers.
- The right to privacy.
- The right to redemption and atonement. – I see this as a firm rejection of the typical “lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key” approach. Rehabilitation and making things right as much as is possible should be the goal of prison as much as punishment or keeping dangerous people off of the streets.
- The right to protection from discrimination based on age, biological configuration, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, species, race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, religion, marital status or socioeconomic status, except when the discrimination is both in regards to required capabilities of for employment and determined to be justified based off of sound reasoning as determined by a science and technology board. – (More on these later!)
- The right to disobey an unjust law or order.
- The right for the individual to have their rights upheld, protected, and enabled by the public as represented by the apparatus of the social contract.
- The right to nationality and the ability to change it.
Level 2 Rights: (Public Rights)
- The right of the public to equal and open access to information, including the information of the workings and actions of the apparatus of the social contract, and all agents of its construction and operation insofar as it pertains to their duties in service of the apparatus of the social contract, and including public access to mass media such as television, radio, and the Internet.
- A.) The consequential right of the public to fundamental education as defined by the needs of individuals of the contemporary world in joint accordance with the right to opportunities.
- The right of freedom of the press.
- The right of the public to peaceably assemble and associate.
- The right of the public to have the elections for their representatives and the operations of the apparatus of the social contract be free of the undue influence of monied interests, bribery, and corruption.
- The right of the public to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
- The right of the public to receive domestic and national protection and law enforcement provided by the apparatus of the social contract.
- The right for the Public to construct Legal Rights and Contracts between individuals, or as Public Law.
- A.) The consequential right for consenting adults to enter civil partnership with one another for the purpose of constituting a family unit, with all of the legal rights granted therein.
- B.) The consequential right for consenting adults to form a business.
- C.) The consequential right for businesses to create lawful contracts of employment.
- D.) The consequential right of employees to form trade unions.
- The right for foreigners and other non-citizens to request citizenship, asylum, or aid.
Level 3 Rights: (Animal/Non-Sentient Rights)
- The right of a species to be protected from extinction.
- The right of animals to humane treatment.
- The right of animals to avoid suffering.
- The right of animals to act in self defense in the face of violence or inhumane treatment.
- The right of the natural environment to be preserved and maintained for the purposes of sustaining or reinforcing the ideal climate of the Earth in accordance with both the right of species to be protected from extinction as well as the right of a sentient being to life and health.
Finally, let me briefly discuss the role of Government as I see it.
Government should be created by the people, run by the people and run for the purposes of the people. Democracy, both direct and representative is the means through which such a government must be run.
Capitalism is a highly effective and efficient economic system, but it is also greedy and selfish. Capitalism is the engine of a strong economy, but strong regulations through the Government are required to direct it to the benefit of the whole nation, and not only one group.
Money interests must be kept out of the political system.
The question of “Big Government” versus “Small Government” is a fallacy. The question should not be about “size” but efficiency. Furthermore, when the Government is broken or inefficient, the answer should be about how to fix it, not simply cut or expand it, as a true fix might involve both or neither.
Government is the product of a social contract between the citizens of the nation in order to fulfill the following purposes:
- Protect and abide by rights.
- Propose and pass laws.
- Enforce those laws.
- Create, direct, and regulate the apparatuses of national defense.
I think, as my discussion of my views continue, you will find out just how important and foundational I find rights to be. Almost everything will ultimately tie back in to these rights and a discussion of them.
I believe I will be updating this post frequently as I receive valuable feedback on ways to improve these.
I look forward to it!
Until next time!