The Bill of Rights tries to guarantee rights called “negative”: What the government and our fellow citizens may NOT do to us, or may NOT make us do.
They may not stop us from speaking or writing or showing our opinion, from meeting with other people (unless it’s to overthrow the government), from owning guns (if we wish to own them), etc.
Many people think we also have these “positive” rights:
The right to education, housing, health care, a living wage…
We don’t. We might wish for them, but they are not guaranteed to us in our Constitution or laws.
The following list comes off as naïve, but I am thinking–Why is it that when a preteen or teen starts thinking deeply and asks “But why can’t we…?”, some adult answers “Oh, it would be nice if we could, but it would never work.”
I’m still a child. I’m still asking “Why not?”
The Positive Rights of Citizens
Every citizen, by benefit of being a citizen, is guaranteed the rights listed below.
Every adult citizen with no financial resources or no alternative source to achieve one or more of these rights, and any child dependents of such citizens, will be provided any lacking right(s) by using the money of other citizens.
Legal residents are guaranteed NONE of these rights at the federal level. Provision of these to legal residents with no financial resources is at the discretion and cost of each state.
The Matching Responsibility: Work for Benefits For Which Others Are Paying
Every adult citizen receiving benefits provided by the work of others has a responsibility to work for her/his fellow citizens by contributing up to four hours daily at any non-high-risk occupation the government may request of them. This job may consist of manual labor. Citizens already employed full-time are exempt.
- Job assignments will be gender-neutral unless job requirements mandate otherwise (e.g. women would not be exempt from manual labor such as picking lettuce; men would not be exempt from changing dirty diapers in infant care centers. Women of childbearing age, however, WOULD be exempt from certain chemical exposures.
Note that these jobs may, if no other productive work can be found, consist of merely showing up at an office on time, dressed neatly, and doing menial tasks SOLELY in order to keep or establish good work habits.
- Citizens recognized by the federal government as severely disabled (e.g. quadriplegic) are exempt from this requirement unless they wish to be included. (Note: Obesity is not considered a severe disability for these purposes unless the citizen is bedridden.)
1. The Right to Eat
Every citizen has the right to be fed, at minimum, a healthful subsistence diet.
- “Healthful”: e.g. No sugared or artificially-colored drinks nor any so-called restaurant items with a fat content of greater than 15%, will be citizen-paid.
- “Subsistence”:e.g. no cookies, desserts, candy, or chips will be citizen-paid. So-called “junk foods”—a phrase invented by advertisers–are not food, or healthful nutrition, at all.
It is recognized that all citizens, no matter their economic circumstances, deserve treats, but public dollars are not considered an appropriate source for these. Freewill offerings from our generous citizenry can provide special occasion treats to needy citizens and their children.
2. The Right to Be Clothed
Every citizen has the right to be clothed and shod in, at minimum, basic apparel and footwear.
- “Basic”: e.g. one pair of shoes at a time may be considered adequate; one week’s worth of clothing may be considered adequate.
3. The Right to Sleep Under a Roof
Every citizen has the right, at minimum, to sleep under a roof in basic housing, out of temperatures too extreme to sustain life.
- Planning and assignment of facilities is left to each state. These accommodations may be single-family, or dormitory-style, such as those provided for student housing, and would not have to include paid services unnecessary for a good basic quality of life, such as paid cable, satellite, or internet TV.
The housing should not demoralize its residents. It should be of a quality and appearance consistent with housing available to citizens of at least moderate means.
- Facilities may not be equal for all: e.g. some disabled citizens, and those residing with young children, will have different space requirements than other citizens.
If the federally (citizen)-funded home or portion of such a home which is loaned to a citizen does not remain in a clean, orderly condition, or the appliances or plumbing or lighting fixtures repeatedly become non-functional due to external damage, the housing loan may be withdrawn, or the quality of the assigned housing may be downgraded; e.g. to smaller, less-well-equipped, or less attractive accommodations.
4. The Right to Vital Medical Care
Every citizen has the equal right to vital medical care.
- “Vital”: Medical emergency treatment for immediate threats to life;
- Treatment for illnesses which, if left untreated, pose grave risk to the health of the general public;
- Treatment for conditions which a physician deems critical, or serious and chronic (e.g. asthma);
- Medical supplies and services for which the cost would place a unequal burden on one set of citizens above another through no fault of their own as a consequence of gender or ethnicity ; e.g. feminine sanitary product costs and any services related to preventing pregnancy, delivering and raising a healthy baby, and repairing bodily damage caused by childbirth.
All dependent children of said adult citizens have, additionally, a right to be given regular medical checkups, vaccinations, treatment for medically-significant high fevers or rashes, and basic dental care (caries prevention and treatment).
Except in the case of children, routine or non-critical medical care (e.g treatment for colds and fevers, for weight gain due to overeating, and so forth) is not a federally-mandated right.
If it is learned that, while receiving medical benefits paid for with public monies, the citizen is indulging in any of the following unhealthy behaviors:
- smoking cigarettes;
- taking illegal drugs;
- becoming inebriated (drunk) on a regular basis;
- grossly overeating on a regular basis;
this benefit or even others may be cut or downgraded. For example, the adult clothing allowance may be withdrawn, since extra resources being used for other substances could be used on clothes.
5. The Right to Attempt an Education
Every citizen’s school-age child has an equal right to attend public school under the same conditions or restrictions as the school-age children of all other citizens, if such schooling is generally available.
Every citizen whose school-age child is attending public school has a responsibility to
- See that their child attends regularly (when not ill with something serious or contagious),
- Puts forth good effort in schoolwork and homework,
- Does not repeatedly attempt to disrupt the learning, possessions, or safety of others.
If the child shows poor attendance, effort, and/or behavior over a sustained (e.g. two-year) period, per a consensus of the child’s teachers, the right to free public school attendance is lost. The citizen is then responsible for educating her or his child at private school or at home.
6. The Right to Attempt to Buy Property
Every citizen has an equal right with all other citizens to purchase any legally-available privately-owned land or buildings within our nation’s borders, if the citizen has the financial means to achieve this.
- Legal residents may not purchase land or buildings within our nation’s borders. They may lease land for periods of up to (“n”) years.
- Foreign nations or their citizens or agents may not purchase land or buildings within our nation’s borders. They may lease land for periods of up to (“n”-x) years.
The seller has a responsibility to:
- Own the property being sold free and clear;
- After the sale, divest her/himself entirely of any actual or implied associations with ownership of the property; e.g. claiming the property’s address as hers/his.
The seller and her/his agent, if any, each share responsibility equal to or exceeding the property’s selling cost for:
- Any misrepresentations or uncorrected inaccuracies in Disclosure documents either may have signed and made available to any prospective buyers prior to sale.
7. The Right to Attempt to Borrow Money on Equal Terms
Every citizen has an equal right with all other citizens to attempt to borrow from financial lending institutions licensed within the nation’s borders, subject to the same credit lending practices that all citizens are subject to.
The Matching Responsibility
Beyond its other responsibilities related to loaning money, the lending institution has a responsibility:
- To disclose loan conditions in a form easily understood by the majority of borrowers.
The federal government has a responsibility:
- To audit a random sample of such documents every three years, testing them against a randomly selected sample of borrowers to see if this is, indeed, the case;
- To take immediate action when unclear language is found, which action may include suspending further loans by the issuing institution until the situation is remedied.
Note: The negative/positive rights opening was inspired by a section of P.J. O’Rourke’s Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards.