Tomorrow is Thomas Jefferson's Birthday. Read this:
He penned numerous documents extolling the revolutionary ideas of his time, including the stirring words on the parchment that is the soul of America, "The Declaration of Independence." Yet how many of our current citizens – and elected officials – truly understand its meaning?
The Declaration launched the first country in history based on the principle that every individual possesses certain "unalienable" rights. According to Jefferson's writings, "free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their Chief Magistrate." No tyrant can violate the rights of man, nor can any majority vote in Congress. "[T]he majority, oppressing an individual," says Jefferson, "is guilty of a crime ... and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.
Our rights belong to us as individuals, with each of us possessing the same rights. There are no "rights" of groups to any special favors or privileges. It is inappropriate, for example, for pizza eaters to lobby Congress for a "right" to a free pizza every Thursday. If Congress grants their wish, out of concern for their nourishment or their votes, it acts outside of its proper function. According to Jefferson, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated [in the Constitution]."
Our rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness are rights to take action; they are not entitlements to the goods and services of others. Jefferson defined liberty as "unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others." This means we may act in our own behalf, for example, to earn money and buy a house, but we may not expect the government to tax others to provide us with a house for free.
Read the rest here.