One of the neatest things about getting to know folks through this Internet thing (and sometimes, if one is lucky, meeting them in meatspace!) is finding folks who are one’s intellectual superior – from whom one may learn.
I’m a pretty bright guy. Despite the fact I squandered my education and made some poor life choices. Things are as they are. I do appreciate the higher-educated, more erudite folks I’ve been fortunate to befriend on the Internet. Sometimes (as in the cases of Tam, Borepatch, Brigid, Peter and others) I learn something!
This is from the magnificent Kevin Baker (of The Smallest Minority) (with whom I have been lucky enough to meet and shoot!), in part:
So I’ve cut way back posting here, but I’m still occasionally answering stuff over at Quora. Seems a waste to let this one vanish in their bit-buckets, so here’s a question-n-answer with an associated comment thread I did recently.
The question was:
Why are guns a right in the US, meanwhile education and healthcare are not?
The question is not about whether or not the government will prevent you from having an education/healthcare. My question is about why education and healthcare aren’t considered in the constitution.
I stumbled onto it fairly early, so there weren’t many answers, but most of them talked about how the Constitution conferred rights on citizens, etc. Here’s my answer:
Oy vey. After reading the current answers (there are eight not downvoted enough to be hidden) it becomes blindingly obvious that our free “education” system has failed pretty dramatically. As one student stated “I Was Never Taught That Knowledge.”
The fundamental question is “What is a ‘Right’?”
Several people here state that education is a right, or that healthcare is a right.
No, they’re not.
While I’m not an Objectivist, I think Ayn Rand was correct when she stated:
A ‘right’ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life.
As others have stated, “guns” aren’t a right, the right to self-defense – protection of one’s own life – is. The right to keep and bear arms is its corollary, for if denied the tools of that defense, the right is essentially stripped.
Education? You have the right to study anything you wish. What you don’t have is the right to make someone teach you. Health care? Same thing. You have the right to take care of yourself, but not force others to care for you.
Because forcing others violates their rights.
So why is the right to arms listed in the Bill of Rights, but education and healthcare are not? Because the Constitution is a legal document that establishes the limits of power of a governing body. If the Constitution were a document that said only what government could not do, it would be infinitely long. Instead, the body of the Constitution itself lists the powers that the Federal government has, and the mechanism under which those powers are established, maintained and exercised. The Bill of Rights is a (limited) list of things that government is warned explicitly not to trifle with, and a warning that there are other such rights not so listed.
The Tenth Amendment, too, is a limit that basically says “Only powers defined here belong to the Federal Government. Everything else is a power reserved to the States or The People. Hands off.”
So of course that’s the first one that got folded, spindled, mutilated and incinerated.
So what do we gather from this? That EDUCATION and HEALTHCARE are not in the purview of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. It’s not the job of the Federal Government to provide these things, subsidize these things, or regulate these things except as they affect interstate commerce. (A clause that has been stretched to obscene lengths ever since Wickard v. Filburn.)
It doesn’t matter if they seem to be good ideas. Those powers were not given to the Federal Government by the Constitution. They’re (as you observed) not mentioned in that document. They’re among the “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution.” And they’re not rights.
But they are most definitely powers.
You should really visit Kevin’s blog, and read the whole post (The Smallest Minority-link)
He doesn’t post often, but when he does, it’s GOLD!