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When Does Self-Ownership Begin?

Last week, S.M. Oliva wrote* for the Mises Economics Blog:

“Let’s say that, in fact, creation is a source of property rights. Does that mean parents have intellectual property rights in their children? After all, they created them.”

Since then, I’ve had some thoughts on that.

Parents can’t own their offspring, regardless of their labor they exerted  and “tools” they used, because their “product” happens to be another separate, individual human being.

Human beings inherently have natural, inalienable rights, among them the rights to life and liberty. Part of the right to life and liberty is the right of an individual to self-ownership. The right to self-ownership begins when the human being begins. But when does the human being’s life actually begin?

At the time of the  Roe v. Wade decision, the concept of “personhood” was brought up by Justice Harry Blackmun:

“(If the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

I’ve seen references to “personhood,” “viability,” “sentience,” and “consciousness, “  and I have some questions.

What is the viability of a born baby? If baby is left alone for a particular amount of time, one cannot survive for very long, because at that early stage of development one is dependent on one’s caretakers for feeding. The same can be said of a 2-year-old, maybe even older children, although the older the child, the more able one is to go out and seek food, unless one is locked inside and can’t get out. Is there a difference between the viability of a born individual and an unborn individual (at whatever stage of development)?

What about “sentience” and “consciousness?” How do we know whether or not a two-month-old “fetus” or a 2-day-old “fetus” can have any physical sensation or conscious awareness? If it is important whether or not that individual has sentience or consciousness in considering whether that individual has any right to life and liberty, and self-ownership, then, what about a born human being or a grown adult who has a neurological disorder and has no “sentience” or who is in a “persistent vegetative state” and has no consciousness, but is still “alive” (or can be kept alive via artificial means)?

I can’t say for sure that a human life begins at conception (although I believe that to be the case and have believed that for 20 years now), but I can sure say without any doubt that, IF a human life begins at conception, then self-ownership begins at conception. And IF that actually were the case, then those of the female gender would have an extra burden–and responsibility–that those of the male gender just don’t have.

* Update, October 2014: Broken link preserved at the Wayback Machine.

Right to Bear Arms, Individual Rights, Public Health Hysteria and the Police State

Here is a question about the Second Amendment, which protects our right to bear arms, a right the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed as an individual’s right, particularly associated with one’s right to defend oneself from the aggression of others. However, the court specifically referred to the right existing within “one’s home.”

My question is this: If there are laws that forcibly disarm a citizen while outside of one’s home, such as while walking in public areas, and that citizen is attacked by some assailant and killed because of being disarmed by the state and thus unable to defend himself, the officials who engaged in that legal disarming, such as the legislators and the mayor or governor who signed it into law, can’t be charged with “aiding and abetting” or being “accessories” because of lack of “intent,” but can they be charged with “involuntary manslaughter?”

Didn’t the Founders create our Constitution and the Bill of Rights with the intention of protecting the individual from the state?

What would the American Founders have done if there were a “Royal Gun Control” policy? Would the Revolution have been possible?

Here is Will Grigg on some issues with local police in Support Your Local Sadist.

In Massachusetts, a bill passed both houses of the legislature in response to H1N1 Flu pandemic hysteria, that will give “authorities” the power to, without warrant, forcibly enter private homes of people suspected of having that illness, and either force vaccinations or “quarantine” them if they refuse, or they would face heavy fines and/or imprisonment. I don’t know if Gov. Patrick has signed it or intends to. It depends on how pro- or anti-civil liberties he is.

It is interesting how people on the left and Democrats were in the past very pro-civil liberties and individual rights. I think that’s changed.

And, with any further government or Federal government control over the entire health and medical care system, the police state mentality and hysteria might very well increase.

Michael Moore’s “Capitalism”

September 8, 2009

It is not surprising to see  someone like Michael Moore with a new film depicting the Wall St. Bailout as a “capitalist” action by government. He is displaying gross ignorance, which is typical of the Left.

And come and gone was the  controversy of Van Jones, described by some as a “communist,” as several of President Obama’s cronies have been described, such as long time Obama supporter and friend Bill Ayers, who described himself as a “small ‘c’ communist.”

There is little difference between communism and socialism, except that communism supposedly is the desired end result of a progressively socialist society (which is what ours is now, and getting worse), with the state having complete ownership of and control over all property and the means of production, which includes the people.

Capitalism, on the other hand, is a system in which the rights of the individual are recognized and protected by government. The United States is unique in that regard, in which we have a Constitution with a Bill of Rights, a document on which laws were to be made to protect those individual rights and, as declared in the Declaration of Independence, our natural “rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Capitalism is an economic system which recognizes those individual rights and private property rights and the right of freedom of trade and commerce. By its very nature, a socialist system violates those rights of private property and voluntary free trade, and, since the means of production includes the people, it therefore is a system of collective ownership of individual people and thus erases any idea of “individual” rights.

In socialism, the individual is owned by the collective and thus does not have any right to one’s own life and liberty. In socialism, the individual is a slave of the collective and of the state; only in capitalism does freedom of the individual exist.

Michael Moore does not realize that it is because of capitalist freedom that he earns a big profit from his films, from the people who voluntarily pay money to see them. That is an example of voluntary free trade among individuals that the force of socialism destroys.

However, because our country is a “mixed economy,” with some capitalist free trade allowed by the government, and some socialist-forced government confiscation of private wealth and earnings, half of Mr. Moore’s earnings are forcibly confiscated by the armed force of government and then redistributed to Wall St. executives and Big Banks and Big Finance and Big Mortgage, etc. That’s Socialism, NOT “capitalism”!

Mr. Moore and others would benefit by reading Mises’s Human Action and Socialism, Rand’s Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, and Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom.

“Promote the General Welfare”

While Walter Williams filled in for Rush Limbaugh yesterday, a caller asked about the phrase “promote the general welfare” in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution.

I don’t know if the Founders meant by “promote” anything other than to advance or to further, but I see the word “promote” as in Merriam-Webster’s 1st definition,”to advance in station, rank or honor.” Maybe one can compare that to being “promoted” at one’s job. For example, the Founders created the Constitution “in order to,” among other things, “promote the general welfare” of the people of the United States, or to raise the standard of living as well as level of freedom of their posterity. Of course, when the very government the Founders created, which is sworn to uphold that very Constitution and its stated purposes in the Preamble, enacts laws and restrictions on the citizens’ freedom and creates burdens on Americans and siphons from them the fruits of their labor, then such a government is then violating the concept of “promoting” the citizens’ standard of living and their “general welfare,” and is thus demoting them.

There was so much progress in the 19th and 20th centuries, but then our Federal government inflicted  Americans with the income tax, and then created the Federal Reserve, and then the fascist New Deal, and several wars, etc.

Governments in America have caused the demoting of Americans, and we really must get back on track by dismantling all the enslavements and impoverishments that government has caused.

Government’s Intrusions

There has been a lot of talk of a “right to health care,” and I’d like to clarify that. You do have a right to seek medical treatment and a right to take care of your health, but you don’t have a right to force a doctor to treat you, or force your neighbors to pay for your medical treatment. What we need is a restoration of health freedom and a “separation of medicine and state.”

Also disturbing is this “Cyber Security” legislation that Sen. Jay Rockefeller is drafting, with the intention of giving President Obama the power to shut down private computers and networks. Government officials shouldn’t have that kind of power, nor should they have any kind of access into private citizens’ computers of networks. We need a “separation of Internet and state” as well.

Government has become increasingly intrusive and invasive in our private lives, and we really need to reverse that trend.

What’s been missing is any talk of our right to keep our personal lives private, whether it be our health matters or our computer usage, or anything that’s really none of the government’s business.

Can you imagine telling George Washington and Thomas Jefferson that the Federal government would have access into citizens’ private health information, and have control over it? They would say, “Not in our America.”

If we told the Founders of a future “computer age,” and informed them of what the Internet would be, I’m sure they would understand that intellectually, and they would say, “Of course the government should stay out of our computer and network matters–it’s none of their business.”

While the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution applies to “searches and seizures,” it still recognizes  “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects.”

Some of these people in government don’t seem to understand that we have a Bill of Rights to protect the individual citizen from the intrusions of government.