Understanding the difference between “individual rights” and government-provided “privileges” is as important as understanding the difference between freedom and slavery.
It’s simple to understand: We own our “individual rights,” such as our Bill of Rights. The government owns the “privilege” that the government provides, such as public welfare, public housing, public education, driving, etc. Nearly everything that the government subsidizes is a privilege that the government owns.
Individual rights are essential for freedom. Some privileges are essential for the safety of citizens.
What concerns me is bureaucrats (and citizens) referring to our individual rights as government-provided privileges, and vice versa.
As an example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently referred to the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights as a “special privilege.” Also, people often refer to different forms of government-provided welfare (such as health care) as an “individual right” when they are really privileges.
To add to the confusion, some educators refer to our individual rights as “negative rights,” while referring to government-provided privileges as “positive rights.” They claim negative rights interfere with the positive rights the government is trying to provide.
Just remember, if we as individuals own the “right,” it’s our individual right. If the government owns (or controls) the “right,” it’s really a privilege.
Our Declaration of Independence recognizes that every individual is born with certain “unalienable rights,” which come from our creator, not from government. Every individual has a force field of individual rights around us (including our Bill of Rights), which protects us from each other and from the government itself.
Our Founding Fathers recognized that if citizens believed individual rights came from government (not from our creator), then our rights would become a worthless “special privilege,” as Feinstein refers to them. There would be no protection from a government with unlimited power to distribute, modify and rescind privileges.
In a system of excessive privileges, “freedom” of individual rights (and individual responsibility) is replaced by the perceived “safety” of government-provided privileges. Citizens become slaves of government in the form of excessive debt (and taxes) to pay for the privileges, and by conforming to the excessive requirements of the privileges.
Modem-day totalitarian systems, such as the Nazi, Soviet and current worldwide “communitarian” system, are collectivist systems of privileges without individual rights. Everything, including all life, is considered a “special privilege” owned by government. The cream of corruption rises to the top, as the most selfish individuals gain government control over the privileges of fellow citizens for their own personal agendas.
In the Nazi and Soviet systems, millions of citizens were murdered by their own governments, because citizens had only their worthless “special privilege” to protect them from government.
The United Nations is a system of privileges without individual rights. The United Nations’ “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” should be called the “Universal Declaration of Human Privileges.” Every “human right” is a privilege owned by the United Nations. Article 29 states, “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”
Imagine our Bill of Rights stating, “All Bill of Rights may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of government.” Our Bill of Rights would be a worthless “special privilege” with no protection from government.
Today, most countries (including the U.S.) function under communitarianism ideology and communitarian policies (such as Agenda 21, “Sustainable Development”). Everything, including all life, within the local and international “community” is considered a “special privilege” owned by government.
Written into our Napa County General Plan is the definition of communitarianism, calling for “balancing the rights of the individual with the rights of the community.” The “rights of the community” include government privileges and policies.
When the government believes it can “balance” our individual rights with their privileges and policies, government implies ownership over individual rights. You can’t “balance” what you don’t own, meaning individual rights are considered a “special privilege” owned by government.
On March 21, 2012, I discussed communitarianism with Napa County Sheriff John Robertson. He stated, “As you know, you surrender some of your rights to live in the community.” He said the only way to protect individual rights was to join government.
On Aug. 10, 2012, I discussed communitarianism with Napa Mayor Jill Techel. She asked, “Don’t we elect representatives to balance rights?”
I replied, “Where does the power end, if government believes it can balance individual rights?”
In most communities (including Napa), it’s no longer a question of privileges versus individual rights; it’s a question of who within government controls the “special privilege” now called “individual rights.”
Bottom line, without citizens understanding the difference between their individual rights and government-provided privileges, the U.S. is destined to become a nation of government-owned slaves.
Eggers lives in Napa.
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"Laws that place unborn children outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching." Francis Cardinal George
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - As the General Election campaign for the U.S. Presidency begins, we face a strange new twist in the political lexicon. Everybody is talking about the Common Good. This election will come down to who defines the term.
For years I have called myself a "Whole Life/Pro-Life" Catholic Christian and citizen. I now notice that others like Senator Sam Brownback are starting to pick up on the term (though he is using Pro-Life/ Whole Life). I have tried to inform my social and political participation in reference to what I call the four pillars of participation, life, family, freedom and solidarity with the poor and the needy. I am Pro-Life, Pro-Marriage and family, Pro-Freedom (rightly understood), Pro-Poor and Pro-Peace. I have written regularly about the meaning of the phrase Common Good. I have proposed that Catholic Social teaching should form a framework within which faithful Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will work together to truly build a just society, a civilization of love.
My efforts have placed me, at times, outside of the realm of acceptability in both major political parties. They have elicited opposition from the so called "right", the so called "left" and many others in between. For example, my opposition to capital punishment has not found an ear in the leadership of either major political party in the US. My opposition to the initial foray into Iraq as having been unjustified under any interpretation of the so called "just war theory", placed me in opposition to the growing number of "neo-cons" on the "right" and their colleagues, the "neo-liberals" on the "left". I have dared to express concerns that if a market economy places profits over people, families and the common good, it can devolve into economism or what the late Servant of God John Paul II rightly called "savage capitalism". A just economic model based on the market must place that market at the service of the person, the family and the common good and expand participation. This position has evoked some of the most rancorous responses.
I have contended that there can be no real blending of what is called "libertarianism" in American politics and Catholic social thought because the two theories begin with two entirely different reference points in their "anthropology" (understanding of the nature of the person) and their vision of freedom. Libertarianism is individualist and atomistic in its definition of 'freedom", viewing government as some kind of necessary evil and basing social relationships on a kind of Hobbesian contract. Catholic social thought positions freedom within a vision of the human person as naturally (and supernaturally) created (and recreated in Christ) for communion. It asserts that governing is a part of our relational identity. Truly good governance begins with the smallest governance, the family and must follow a principle of subsidiarity. We were made for one another and we find our human fulfillment only in giving ourselves to the other. And another principle, a principle of social charity called solidarity, insists that we are "our brothers (and sisters) keeper".Family is the staring point, not the individual.
Concern for the articulating the meaning of the phrase "common good" runs throughout the Catechism of the Catholic Church (See in particular, Par 1905- 1917)and is wonderfully expounded upon in the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church". Of course it is also not an exclusively "Catholic" notion but is a part of political patrimony and any just theory of government. It is not "left" or "right", it is human. Years ago I wrote an article called "Requiem for the Religious Right" and urged my fellow Catholics, who first called themselves "conservatives" or "liberals" to remember that "Catholic" should be the "Noun" in our political participation. It is our identity and should root us and define us. I have regularly cautioned my fellow Catholics, whether on the "right" or on the "left", to reject building their policy and political positions on partisan ground and then attempting to dress them up in Catholic language. I also formed two organizations years ago, Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance, in an effort to make Catholic social teaching accessible as a vehicle for what I also called a "New Catholic Action". The organizations still exist and I still hope to utilize them. However, the thought espoused by both of them is not original. It is simply a restatement of Catholic Social teaching. The problem is that many Catholics do not know this teaching or have wrongly allowed "experts" on the "left" or the "right" to interpret what it is for them. Or, in some instances, when people like me started speaking or writing about ideas such as those I have just discussed above, we are disparaged. These same principles and ideas helped to launch other organization which now use the term "Common Good" in their name or their mission. However, in some cases, they take very different positions on what constitutes or furthers the Common Good. Therein lays the real challenge, whose definition of the "Common Good" will prevail?
To be Pro-life is not to be Partisan
Among the several organizations using the term "common good" within the ranks of Catholic activism these days there are some who attempt to argue that when people like me emphasize that every procured abortion is intrinsically evil and can never further the Common Good, we are engaging in "a single issue" politics. They argue that this insistence fails to take into account other important elements of Catholic Social thought. I disagree and insist instead that it is the firm foundation for all that other Catholic Social thought. Some of these folks write me in response to my articles. I tell them that my whole life/pro-life position it is not simply about being opposed to abortion. Rather it is about where any authentic understanding of Catholic social teaching should begin, unfold and end - the inviolable dignity of every single human person at every age, every stage, and of every size. When there is no life, there are no other rights. Human rights do not exist in a vacuum; they are goods of the human person. I likewise insist that to be "Pro-Life" is NOT to be a Partisan. Rather, it is to be truly human. Without acknowledging the preeminent right to life, all derivative rights and the entire infrastructure of human rights is placed in jeopardy. The further legitimate questions and positions of political parties become moot. Without the freedom to be born, all of the talk about compassion for the poor and the promotion of freedom throughout the entirety of life, and how we attain it, is hollow and empty. Failing to recognize our neighbors in the womb as having a right to be born and then to live a full life in our community is a foundational failure of our obligation in solidarity to one another.
It was Mother Teresa, whose anniversary we recently commemorated, who said it so clearly: "America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign."
The "Religious" Excuse and the Death of true Freedom
I have also insisted that belief in this fundamental right to life does not rely upon someone's religious convictions at all. Nor should those who hold such a position be dismissed because they are "religious". Yes, as a Catholic Christian my position in defense of this preeminent right is in fact informed by my embrace of Christian revelation and the infallible teaching of my Church. However, I insist that some things are true not because they are Catholic; they are Catholic because they are true. For example, the truth of the humanity of every child in the first home of the whole human race and the truth of the intrinsic evil of every procured abortion is confirmed by science and written on every human heart by the Natural Law. The child in the womb is our neighbor. We all know that. The marvelous developments in intra-uterine surgical proceedings and sonogram technology are only two of the scientific facts which accuse us of our National crime. We are engaged in a horrid contemporary version of playing with words in an effort to mask the evil.
I reject the oxymoron "Abortion rights". I absolutely refuse to be called "anti-abortion rights" and note the use of the term by many in the news media as an example of how far we have fallen. Simply because the current "positive law" (in this instance, a law which was judicially created) attempts to assuage the conscience and cover over the evil by calling what is always wrong a "right" by rooting this sophistry in a contrived "penumbra" of the notion of privacy, no Court can ever make of abortion a true "right". Killing innocent children in the womb can never be a right in the Natural Law. And, like other intrinsic evils in our history before it which were bolstered by judicial imperialism (for example slavery), it will be revealed for what it is when Roe v Wade is overturned. Insisting that the Pro-life position is "religious" - and must therefore also be kept "private" - is also virulently anti-Christian. Faithful Christians must never accept a notion of "privacy" which sanctions the reaching into the womb and killing children by what Mother Teresa also rightly called a "war against the child". When she addressed the Presidential prayer Breakfast in 1997 she warned: "What is taking place in America is a war against the child. And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another."
Compromise with Evil never brings true freedom, it kills it. In the mighty words of the late Servant of God John Paul II in his seminal work, the "Gospel of Life" : "To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom." So, I insist once again in this article that it is never acceptable for any Catholic Christian to support a candidate for public office who endorses the so called counterfeit "Right to Abortion" and denies the fundamental and preeminent "Right to Life". To do so NEVER advances the Common Good. I am not alone in this insistence. I conclude with a letter from one of America's preeminent Churchmen, The Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, Francis Cardinal George. He recently made the entire issue very clear. I ask every one reading this article to carefully weigh the words of Cardinal George. He is the successor to Cardinal Bernadin who coined the phrase "seamless garment" in an effort to emphasize the full implications of being what I prefer to call being "Whole Life/pro-Life". Unfortunately, some have since misused the late Cardinal's phrase. They have tried to confuse Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and people of good will concerning the primacy of the Right to Life for all children in the womb. Cardinal George correctly restates the truth in this letter: "One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good."
Archdiocese of Chicago
Office of the Cardinal
September 2, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the midst of a lengthy political campaign, matters of public policy that are also moral issues sometimes are misrepresented or are presented in a partial or manipulative fashion. While everyone could be expected to know the Church's position on the immorality of abortion and the role of law in protecting unborn children, it seems some profess not to know it and others, even in the Church, dispute it. Since this teaching has recently been falsely presented, the following clarification may be helpful. The Catholic Church, from its first days, condemned the aborting of unborn children as gravely sinful. Not only Scripture's teaching about God's protection of life in the womb (consider the prophets and the psalms and the Gospel stories about John the Baptist and Jesus himself in Mary's womb) but also the first century catechism (the Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) said: "You shall not slay the child by abortions. You shall not kill what is generated." The teaching of the Church was clear in a Roman Empire that permitted abortion. This same teaching has been constantly reiterated in every place and time up to Vatican II, which condemned abortion as a "heinous crime." This is true today and will be so tomorrow. Any other comments, by politicians, professors, pundits or the occasional priest, are erroneous and cannot be proposed in good faith.
This teaching has consequences for those charged with caring for the common good, those who hold public office. The unborn child, who is alive and is a member of the human family, cannot defend himself or herself. Good law defends the defenseless. Our present laws permit unborn children to be privately killed. Laws that place unborn children outside the protection of law destroy both the children killed and the common good, which is the controlling principle of Catholic social teaching. One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good. This explains why the abortion issue will not disappear and why it is central to the Church's teaching on a just social order. The Church does not endorse candidates for office, but she does teach the principles according to which Catholics should form their social consciences. The teaching, which covers intrinsic evils such as abortion and many other issues that are matters of prudential judgment, could not be clearer; the practice often falls short because we are all sinners. There is no room for self-righteousness in Catholic moral teaching.
The Conference of Bishops in this country and the Bishops of Illinois have issued statements about Catholic social teaching and political life. They are available in our parishes. All of us should keep our country and all the candidates for office in the next election in our prayers. God bless you and your families.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for FEBRUARY 2018
Say 'No' to Corruption. That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.
Any legitimate definition of the "Common Good" must consider our youngest neighbors in the first home of the whole human race. Abortion never serves the common good.