Dinner Topics for Wednesday
The Founders’ Basic Principles: 28 Great Ideas that changed the world
From The 5,000 Year Leap—A Miracle that Changed the World
By W. Cleon Skousen
US Constitution Series 8: Men are Endowed by their Creator with Certain Unalienable Rights
~Skousen, pp. 124-129
The Founders did not believe that the basic rights of mankind originated from any social compact, king, emperor, or governmental authority. Those rights, they believed, came directly and exclusively from God. Therefore, they were to be maintained sacred and inviolate.
The state of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which …teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions; for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker …
And, being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of Nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us that may authorize us to destroy one another.
When is a Right Unalienable?
Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are: neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture. (Blackstone: Commentaries on the Laws of England)
And these [great natural rights] may be reduced to three principal or primary articles: the right of personal security; the right of personal liberty, and the right of private property.
In other words, we may do something ourselves to forfeit the unalienable rights endowed by the Creator, [such as murder] but no one else can TAKE those rights from us without being subject to God’s justice.
We have certain other rights called vested rights which are created by the community, state, or nation for our protection or well-being. However, these can be changed any time the lawmakers feel like it.
Examples of vested rights: the right to go hunting during certain seasons, or the right to travel on the public highway. Notice that the government can change both of these “rights” or prohibit them altogether. A region could be declared off-limits for hunting; the highway could be closed.
But [current events notwithstanding] the government could not pass a law to destroy all babies under the age of two, or lock up someone [because of their appearance]. In the one case it would be destroying the unalienable right to live, and in the other case it would be destroying the unalienable right to liberty.
Frederic Bastiat (trying to preserve freedom in France)
We hold from God the gift which includes all others. This gift is life—physical, intellectual, and moral life.
Life, faculties, production—in other words, individuality, liberty, property, this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation and are superior to it.
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws [for the protection of them] in the first place.
Principle 9: To Protect Man’s Rights, God has Revealed Certain Principles of Divine Law.
US Constitution Series 7: Free Enterprise vs. Free Stuff