Representative Jesse Jackson Looking To Rewrite The Constitution

This excerpt is from The Chicago Tribune and found via Daily Pundit. I won’t register with The Trib because they require you to receive email in exchange so you’ll have to go to Bill’s pad to get the link.

Thankfully, none of Rep. Jackson’s amendments will even make it out of Congress, much less past 38 state legislatures. These amendments, however, draw a clear distinction between positive rights — I’m compelled to do something for someone else — and negative rights — other people are compelled to not do something to me. For instance, a positive right would be a “right” to health care. A negative right would be the right to not be beaten up or otherwise violated by another person. One type of right is compatible with a free society and another is not.

First, the notion that you can have a right to medical care, or any other scarce resource, is ridiculous. What if it’s not available? If medical care is a right, how come some guy in Canada who’s waiting for a hip replacement can’t walk into the first medical clinic he sees — never mind if it’s an oncologist — and demand that hip replacement? Because there’s no such thing as a “right” to a scarce resource.

A right, whether positive or negative, is a claim on another person. Every time I leave the house, enter a crowd or go to a movie, I make a claim on the others that they will not assault me because it’s a violation of my rights. That’s a negative right, there is no scarcity issue and it’s a right that’s completely in keeping with a free society. Not so with positive rights.

In addition to the scarcity problem, positive rights place a claim on others that essentially makes them “slaves” of others. This type of “right” is not compatible with a free society, even if it could exist due to the scarcity problem. The Founders understood this, which is why the rights spelled out in the Bill of Rights are negative in nature and are designed to protect us from government power. Where the Constitution does spell out government powers, they’re designed to use the government to punish those who would violate our right to life, liberty and property.

Also note Jefferson’s wording in the Declaration of Independence: we’re entitled to pursue happiness, but there are no guarantees. That wording is no accident. Any attempt to guarantee happiness for one would infringe on the rights of another.

As for constitutional amendments, I favor two: an amendment giving the President line-item veto power on appropriation bills and another forcing all Congressional legislation to be on a single subject.

“One of the most prolific wannabe Constitution rewriters of late is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). On March 4, he proposed a staggering eight amendments. His changes were anything but minor edits. If adopted, they would essentially reweave the fabric of American government.

What changes is the brash young congressman proposing? The new Jacksonian Constitution would guarantee ‘the right to public education of equal high quality,’ ‘the right to health care of equal high quality,’ ‘equal rights for women,’ ‘the right to decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing,’ ‘the right to a clean, safe and sustainable environment,’ ‘the right . . . to full employment and balanced economic growth,’ ‘the explicit fundamental right of citizens to vote’ and an amendment ‘regarding taxing the people of the United States progressively.’

He has to be kidding, right?

Actually, he says the gambit is anything but a publicity stunt. ‘I am very serious about it,’ he said.”

All the more scary that he’s serious about these amendments. Thank God for the Founding Fathers and their foresight in making the Constitution difficult to amend and their philosophy that avoided printing press rights and focused on individual liberty instead.

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