“You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat. You can feel the cushion, but you can’t have a seat. You can dip you foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim. You can feel the punishment, but you can’t commit the sin” – Howard Jones, No One is to Blame
I caught an article today about how Finland has declared broadband internet access to be a fundamental human right. This is how it goes in socialist societies. The list of human rights grows longer and longer until everybody has a right to three homes, beach-front vacation property, a fit and trim body, and 5 months of paid vacation. Somehow, they think that defining things as fundamental rights makes them happen … magically.
Of course, internet access isn’t free. Somebody has to pay for it. Or, to take money out of the equation, somebody has to do the work to produce it. In a free society, the work required for internet-access-production is bartered with some other productive activity. Naturally, we use currency as the go-between for the barter because it makes things easier. Still, it is a question of trading productivity in one area for product in another. We specialize where we are most productive, we work hard, and we trade our productivity with others who produce things we want/need but aren’t that great at making.
In such a world, rights are very narrow and deep. They are fundamental and inherent. They don’t overflow your neighbor’s yard, but they penetrate all the way down to bedrock.
Free markets are part of freedom. You have a right to work how you want to. You have a right to trade your productive capabilities freely with others and acquire the products you deem useful. There is not a right to have stuff – there is only a right to produce stuff.
The right to have stuff is akin to the right to take stuff. If everybody has the right to a BMW then the BMW workers have no right to stay home – they will have violated the rights of their neighbors to drive sporty German automobiles. If everybody has a right to a $100,000 education then the rest of us have no right to not work and produce the necessary goods and services to pay for said education. We are essentially slaves to the rights of others. These rights are oppressive and unsubstantiated by any reasonable argument that I can tell.
The notion that I no longer have a right to freely produce for the benefit of myself and my loved-ones, but rather I have a requirement to produce for strangers is about as anti-freedom as you can get.
This seems to be the way it goes with utopian socialists. For every disparity of stuff they find in society they want to declare a new right so that we will all be “equal” again. If some people work harder or produce more, and therefore acquire more, they have somehow oppressed their neighbors and must have their wealth confiscated for the good of the whole.
This leads to all manner of moral hazard and perversity. There is no benefit to saving money; it is better to spend all you can now and cry foul when you’re hungry later. There is no benefit to working hard; it is better to let someone else carry the weight for you. It encourages only the evil and never the good. How can this be thought of as a moral ideology?
As always, my beef is not with socialists in general, but those who name the name of Christ and follow such putrid philosophies. There is just no moral/Biblical basis for it. We are to work heartily (Col 3:23). Paul gave us the example of working with his own hands to support his ministry and not burden others (1 Thess 2:6-9). Storing up resources for the day of difficult times is praiseworthy (Prov 6:6). Leaving an inheritance to your grandchildren – also praiseworthy (Prov 13:22). Good stewardship over the talents and abilities God has given us (Matt 25:14-30), providing for our families (1 Tim 5:8), and even receiving a blessing from the Lord (Mal 3:10) – all promoted and even demanded by the Lord while discouraged and even punished by collectivism. This just doesn’t hold water. We cannot support a philosophy that is so ardently against Biblical foundation.
The only thing collectivism seems to promote is jealousy, covetousness, pride, envy, greed, self-worship. That’s right, to view your neighbor’s wealth as criminal because it outstrips your own is self-worship. How have they wronged you by working hard to acquire wealth? The only way this is possible is if you are the center of the universe and the yardstick by which all men are to be measured – and the only way they could have surpassed the very source truth, the plumb line of righteousness, and the light of hope, is to have somehow cheated or behaved immorally. Have they actually cheated and defrauded? Then let the organized defense of rights, the true purpose of government and law, have its way. But if they have only acquired by diligence or shrewdness, then we had better leave them be. Lest some day we too become the object of the necessary funding to provide for an ever expanding array of human “rights”.