Thge subject of rights was brought up as well, because there's an assumption among many that there is a "right" to health care among other things. So it would be best here to define a right: Thankfully, fellow blogger Soapboxgod (no link due to sabbatical from his blog) came up with one better than what I found:
Rights define freedom of action; an action which is without compulsion, coercion, or intimidation by other men. [Therefore] you have a right to PURSUE healthcare but, you do not have a right to actually have it. Because, in order for healthcare to be perceived as a right, you must essentially force men to provide it.The nature of rights was set forth most famously in the Declaration of independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...The important points here, in case you missed them, were that rights are derived from a deity, that the government's role is to secure them and not create them, and that the rights of one man end at the rights of another.
If you look through the Amendments to the Constitution, they are designed to limit government, not the individual. This reinforces the role of the government.
The problem, though (and the reason for the shitty choices for President), is that far too many people lack the understanding of rights. Far too many people are swayed when politicians of both parties being to attach the word "right" to that which is a privilege or a benefit. And the list of "rights" continues to grow.
We now have a "right" to: an education (which sucks), healthcare (which is the reason we can't afford it), affordable housing (thus the bailout), clean air and water and healthy environment, roads, a car, a driver's license, voting for the assface or The Marxist (it's not an individual right, look it up), healthy food, a family, abortion (or sucking babies into a sink), financial security, a safe job, a"living wage," TV (I even have a link (and my government-subsidized converter boxes) for that "right"), a name, food, water, sex, and on, and on, and on (I'd continue, but then I'd just get ridiculous). Hell, even animals have "rights" now.
The problem with everything here is that while most of the preceding things can be justified in some way or another, almost everything I have listed requires the government to take away the rights of someone else to give it to us. So the only way to delineate rights without requiring interpretation is to limit rights to those things that one can exercise without taking from another.
Another point I thought of: Governments don't have rights, only powers. The reason the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution the way they did was because they recognized that a free people must have a government that is constrained and limited, and not a government that constrains and limits its people. To give the government the power to appropriate wealth, the freedom to limit freedom for the sake of the government, and the mandate to invent "rights" for the sake of pacifying a populace is to lose much of the freedom so many have died to preserve.
Maybe it's just my libertarian streak talking here, but how free would we be to pursue our desires and goals in life were we free to exercise our rights without the "benevolent" hand of government in our way?