Please note that this is a reposting of an old rant with some edits and clarifications on the principles discussed in it.
The front-page story in an article on The Times of India read, “The cost of implementing the historic Right to Education (RTE) Act over the next five years by the Centre and states works out to a whopping Rs 1.78 lakh crore [INR 1.78 trillion as per the short scale]. The new law will come into force from the next academic year and since right to education is now a fundamental right, it is mandatory on the part of the government to provide what is demanded.”
So to make it simple, the implication here is that because we have a right to education, the Government is responsible to provide that education to us for free. Many people across the world, especially the Western countries would identify with this explanation of “rights” and think it’s the most logical one. But is it? By extension, does it mean that because I have a right to life, if it happens to be in danger from some disease, is it the Government’s job to fix it for me for free?
Well, then I have a right to employment too, why doesn’t the Government give me employment? Why do I have to search for a job? In the West, people who don’t have a job get some sort of an allowance from the Government. But why the discrimination? Everyone is entitled to the allowance, and they shouldn’t have to earn their income, just like people aren’t supposed to earn the means to take care of their health or for the education of their kids.
The last time I checked, I also have a right to property. So where’s my share of the property? The government has control over vast areas in this country; why aren’t they distributing that property equally among people to honor their right to property?
If you agree that I have a right to life, you can’t possibly argue against the fact that I have a right to eat healthy food, without which life isn’t possible. So where is my three square meals a day? Why do I have to buy my food rather than just getting it from the Government?
After food, the next thing that comes to mind is clothing. Shouldn’t the government be providing me with that too? Remember, that I have a right to decent living. If this right isn’t enumerated in the constitution, they should do it. I mean, shouldn’t people have a right to wear decent clothing without having to work for it?
If the Government is so hell-bent on playing God, there’s a whole list of things Santa Claus never did for me last Christmas. Maybe we should file a few more petitions in the Supreme Court about what more the Government should do for us.
There’s another word for this pattern of things — socialism. Perhaps that’s how it started. After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Somewhere along the way people forgot that a “right” to something only means that no one else has the right to take it away from you by force or fraud. It doesn’t give you the freedom to demand that someone else’s labor be used to fulfill your needs. And then of course, every moocher who wanted a piece of someone else’s pie without having to earn it flocked to the idea like a moth to a flame. And then there are those who genuinely believe it is OK to impose an obligation on a group of people for the “greater good.”
It amazes me how so many people don’t see the inherent irony with the kind of goodwill and charity that is propogated under the veiled threat of force.
Furthermore, just because I don’t have a right to force someone to pay for my education, does it mean I don’t deserve education if I can’t afford it? Absolutely not! I have spent my whole life on the principle that the longevity of the human race depends on people’s ability to cooperate and give value for value. I have helped hundreds of colleagues and classmates with their problems over the years, and I don’t see anything in the future that would stop me from continuing to do that.
People should always remain free to make collaborations where they agree to put together their surplus resources to help the truly unfortunate ones around them. They should also be free to vote for public healthcare or any other system of welfare in which those who choose to not partipate don’t get any benefits. But to say that you would throw someone in jail for not complying with your notion of “good” is not something I can digest.
With that in mind, I can never bring myself to blame the baby boomers today for being too selfish and not giving up their jobs so that the younger generation can find employment. I can’t adopt a double standard of morality where on one hand I say it isn’t right for them to be selfish, and on the other, I demand that they give up their jobs my sake.
Those people have worked for 5 or 6 decades funding all kinds of government programs through their salaries. And now they are only reaping the benefits of the investment they made for their future and the present generation’s past — it is through the income tax collected from the employed population that the school system in the Western world has paid its bills. No one should have the right to ask them to retire as long as they can do their jobs right.