14 February 2013

Rights without Responsibilities

It seems that every day we hear more and more about ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ from the right wing in this country. We’re subjected to a constant litany of complaints about the supposed infringement on these precious commodities. We hear about 2nd Amendment rights, rights to low taxes, freedom from regulation, freedom from obligations to take responsibility for…wait a moment. What were those two words? Back up. ‘Obligations’? ‘Responsibility’? These two words seem to be outside the vocabulary of these complainers. How can one go on and on about one’s patriotism and love of country and rights and freedoms without every mentioning these two words? How can you love a country to which you feel you owe absolutely nothing but from which you enjoy all the fruits of its liberties?

You can’t just chant ‘USA! USA!’ and ‘Support the troops’ in one breath, and in the next breath begrudge the funds (aka taxes) needed to actually, literally support the troops. You certainly can’t use that old chestnut ‘Freedom isn’t free’ when you want your freedom to be literally free of charge.

You can’t bemoan attempts to place sane boundaries around your 2nd Amendment rights when that right begins to cut into the more fundamental right of six-year-old children to live, to not have their bodies riddled with bullets from high-capacity, semi-automatic assault rifles. What about your obligations to them?  

You can’t talk about ‘freedom of choice’ in the context of our healthcare system when real choice and the highest-quality care are restricted to the wealthiest people. Yes, we have the most advanced healthcare available in the world, but the vast majority of us aren’t ‘free’ to choose that level of care. If having the most advanced care available were synonymous with having the best healthcare system, then our outcomes would be higher and we wouldn’t be ranked behind most other developed countries in life expectancy. Without the obligation to extend healthcare to all Americans, having the freedom for some select people to choose the best healthcare is meaningless.

Folks on the right wing in this country claim to be the patriots, the lovers of freedoms. But if you want freedom without responsibility, you’re not a patriot. You’re a freeloading leech sucking away resources without wanting to give anything back. That’s not my definition of patriotism. 

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