On the surface there are obviously many political disagreements people have, but this all goes back to how issues are framed. These differences in opinion go down deeper to differences in world-views. I believe that politicians and people in power these days spend a lot of energy trying to frame the debate in their terms, but it can be enlightening to back up far enough to examine the roots of what we believe.
Everything you consume has been produced by someone or multiple someones. This may sound obvious, but it is a key fact that many do not seem to understand. People talk about free this and that coming from government, but there is nothing free. Somebody put in the mental effort, physical labor or a combination of the two to get you what you want and need.
To believe it is your “right” to have something another person has produced, is to believe it is your “right” to enslave that person for whatever period it takes them to make the thing to which you are “entitled to”. This is obvious when not framed in a style that gets politicians reelected. Your neighbor cuts 500 logs for the winter. Is it your right to some of those logs, since everyone needs to be warm for the winter? Or is it your personal responsibility to find your own source of warmth? In an advanced economy, you don’t need a saw and wedge to get firewood, you can trade your labor for it. But realize that your labor is what will keep you warm, not some “right”..
Rights exist with or without society. Born alone in the woods, I would have the right (though not necessarily the ability) to defend myself from any aggressor. I would have the right to pursue (though not necessarily achieve) happiness. I would have the right to say what I want, and do whatever I want that does not violate another’s right.
Do I have the right to food? No, food must be provided. In order to get food I must find it, grow it, hunt it, or obtain it in some other way. This world is no different, other than the fact that there are billions of people who we can try to get to do our work for us. But we must not insist that it is our right for things to be provided for us. What about the right of the person who provides it? If your supposed “right” to food trumps their actual right to freedom, they are indeed quite literally your slave.
We hear a lot about “greedy” CEO’s these days who work for companies with “obscene” profit margins which make a select few “filthy” rich. You’ve heard all those terms, because the debate, and many of our world-views, have been formed and influenced by politicians who will benefit from this paradigm.
Imagine going to your grocery store to buy food, and seeing a sign on the door: “This company has repented, fired the CEO, and given away its profits to the poor. Unfortunately some shipments have not arrived, and others have gone bad before being received and displayed. Try again later, we might have some food for you to buy”. Preposterous! It is our right to be fed! Meaning, someone else does not have the right to deny laboring for my benefit. Someone else must organize and serve as the middleman between the farmer and the store shelves, but he shouldn’t make too much money.
Do people not realize that the only ones getting paid more than what they are worth, are connected in one way or another to government? You cannot consistently get paid more than you are worth in a free market. Only with the government, and access to their force can a person get paid with the fruits of another’s labor, without having labored equally in another field.
There was a time when no person on earth could perform successful brain surgery. Today there are many people who have worked hard to acquire the skills to perform brain surgery. They trade their labor for the things they need, and their labor is worth enough to their peers that others may need to labor for a week in order to produce enough to trade for an hour of the surgeon’s skill. This is unequal, but it is not unfair. If no one had the skills to perform brain surgery, how would you enforce your “right” to healthcare in that case? But since there are people who can perform brain surgery, can we consider it our right to get the surgery, regardless of whether or not we have labored to produce enough to trade?
To force the doctor to perform a surgery for less than his skills are worth (in a free trade, mutually beneficial transaction) means that the doctor is your slave, working only for the benefit of you, and not for himself. But there is a reason full-fledged slaves have only historically been used for menial work; that is the extent of what can be produced at the end of a whip. For labor worth more than menial work which essentially anyone could do, incentives are needed. You can use force all you want, but just see what happens when a slave is told to do brain surgery.
When your tire pops, and you labor for 2 hours in order to trade that labor for a new tire (which someone else labored to create) there is no force involved, you both benefit: you got a new tire, the other person got rewarded for their tire making skills, and will trade that reward for something he needs. When the government says your car has not passed inspection, and require $1200 of work to fix a leak you didn’t notice and has no negative effect on you or anyone else, that is force. You must labor for a week at the crack of a whip in order to fix the car that you did not decide needed to be fixed, you were told it needed to be fixed. The consequence for not complying with this force is eventually a fine (forced labor to earn the money to pay it) or jail (armed men come and force you into a cell which you cannot leave).
When you go to a fast food restaurant and say, I’ll trade you my burger making skills for so many dollars per hour, there is no force involved, it benefits you and the fast food joint. When you go to the government and say I want my labor to be rewarded more, and the government says the fast food joint needs to pay more, that is force. Until the fast food restaurant is dragging you out of your home to work at gun point behind the grill, they are not the ones “forcing” anyone to do anything, whether it is work for them, or buy from them. Without using the government, it is impossible for a private company or individual to legitimately use force (if they did it would be extortion, as in, the Mafia). If an individual initiates force against us, we are still able in most cases to respond with force.
A good exercise to simplify the debate, and ground your world-view would be to ask yourself if a policy involves the initiation of force, or not. If government was only in the business of responding to the initiation of force, we would be confronted with few serious issues that we face today. Unfortunately as you consider bills, regulations, and government policy, you will find that the government today is a main initiator of force, and with a monopoly that size on the “legitimate” use of force, it leaves us with no option but to bow down and accept the immoral initiation of force; essentially accept that we are slaves. If something cannot be accomplished through a mutually beneficial agreement, then it has no business being accomplished at all.