Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

The difficulties of claiming that positive rights are human rights.

8 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. Wow, that report has so many things wrong with it is isn’t funny. I especially like regular references to the secrecy index developed by Richard Murphy which has the same level of academic rigour which is attached to his fair tax mark. But enough of the Murphmeister.

    As a Lawyer I am shocked that the International Bar Association allowed something like this to be published under its banner. I mean a bunch of lawyers using the term “technically legal”. The last time I checked something was either legal or illegal. If the Law wasn’t clear then that is parliaments problem and not that of its citizens.

    I also think they are looking at things the wrong way around. Human Rights don’t lead to economic development its the other way around you damn fools.

    Human rights, like democracy are only suitable to countries that can afford them. Until they can afford them they are irrelevant.

    Bunch of twats

  2. re. ‘Hector the Inspector’: I haven’t seen many bowler hats in recent years and I quite miss them. I think Hector looks quite smart.

    on the subject matter: I do argee with you. The problem is, it rather hard to argue against health, education etc as ‘goods’. From there a very small step to seeing them as ‘rights’, hard also to argue against them as such. Once you’ve reached that conclusion, it seems to me a very small step again to conflating them with ‘rights’.

  3. That ‘right to education’: a right to a basic education, or a right to study of a MA in Trot Studies when you are 36? A right to an education, but only if provided by the State? A right to an education, but you aren’t permitted to choose what your child eats at luchtime.

    A right to social security? For how long? Limited to 3 months, 6 months, 5 years, no limit? A right to live off others for your entire life? A right to State-sponsored housing, and a right to keep it for your entire life regardless of need (yours or others)?

    The Left’s world is a pretty fucked up place, isn’t it?

  4. Sorry, my first ‘rights’ should have read ‘needs’. They are ‘goods’, probably ‘needs’ and from there lazy logic leads you to labelling them ‘rights’.

  5. The deep problem is very simple: there are no “human rights” – the idea is farcically silly. There are, of course, civil rights – this follows from the fact that man is a social animal. Different societies will accord their members different civil rights. Those members will argue till kingdom come about those rights. So be it.

    So your real issue is with “positive” civil rights: on those your arguments are sound. So you’ve little chance of persuading the great unwashed, then.

  6. Agree with Dearieme. The notion of ‘rights’ is purely a legal term to create work for lawyers. Call it the ‘passive’ noun because no matter how many you think you’ve got there’s no way of securing them. That depends on the ‘active’ noun, obligation. And whether anyone feels obliged to you.

  7. I’m partly with BIS and dearie. One thing we liberals have a tough time admitting is that there actually aren’t any human rights. Really. But don’t say it too loudly or tell the unwashed, or even admit to being of such a view in polite company. They are purely utilitarian legal fictions. We’re better off for feigning belief in such totems, just as we are better off for feigning belief in the value of money.

    For a historical example, it was rather tough for the victims of Auschwitz to enforce their human right to life, and the “human rights” thing had to be invoked to convict and punish those guilty of the atrocities, seeing as their abhorrent acts were entirely legal at the time. But this does show that even those negative rights are only as much use as you have the power or the state to help you enforce them at the time you need to enforce them.

    That leads to a more contemporary example – how do you enforce your right to life when faced with a mad axe murderer, or with a drunk driver hurtling towards you? Well, thanks to active law enforcement (which costs), and a right to self defence that is at least occasionally recognised by the courts, perhaps you can do something, but this does all come at a collective cost. In that sense, the line between the “negative” right not to be killed by the state/mad axe murderers/drunk drivers and the “positive” right not to be killed by a lack of food is getting rather indistinct – because there are collectively-borne costs to the enforcement (as far as we can) of both.

    Indeed, you can go further and say that the “positive” rights are actually cheaper to enforce. We could ensure no one (needs to) starve rather cheaply – indeed have done in the west for at least the last 40 years. So we can eliminate deaths due to failure to enforce a “positive” right, at low cost, but are still unable to meet the far higher cost of enforcing the “negative” right not to be killed by axe murderers or drunk drivers.

  8. Of course there are no rights other than legal rights. These are created by legislators (and judges in common law). But they aren’t “purely a legal term to create work for lawyers”, they are standards ‘we’ agree to uphold, like the right to challenge one’s detention, making sure trials are fair, freedom of speech etc. Originally because of reactions to arbitrary interference by the powerful with people who had no power. It doesn’t stop people arguing about their extent.

    I’m not sure about so-called positive rights, I would rather ‘the good life’ is facilitated. But I can understand why they are demanded by people in societies as wealthy and unequal as ours. In any case, we effectively have some in all but name; for instance, people on low incomes are entitled to income support.

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