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What Is A Phantom Right?

By niranjan on January 25 2011 | 4749 Views

Phantom rights are those “rights” that do not exist in Objectivism, it is a phrase I made up, as a phantom can be thought of as a ghost: no matter how much you wish it to be true, it does not exist in

Phantom rights are those “rights” that do not exist in Objectivism, it is a phrase I made up, as a phantom can be thought of as a ghost: no matter how much you wish it to be true, it does not exist in this reality. This post builds upon what was written earlier, Man’s Rights in Objectivism, and I recommend reading that post before proceeding to this one.

Man’s rights are individualistic, no more, no less. You have a right of dissenting speech, a right to keep the profit of your labor. These rights do not affect or infringe upon the rights of anyone else. A phantom right then is that category of “rights” that many people today confuse, or purposely mix up, with the fundamental individual rights of a man.

A common phantom right being tossed around these days is the “right to healthcare.” Note, healthcare, as in the service and products a person consumes in order to maintain health. There is an individual right to maintain one’s own health by one’s own means, but not to healthcare. To see how this is not a right, think about the questions below:

* Is healthcare available without having to first being produced by others?

* Is healthcare free or does it cost money and resources?

* What about the doctors and nurses, are they to provide their services for free?

* How is healthcare going to be guaranteed to people, if it has to be produced?

The first question answers the others, healthcare is not something we possess individually, it must first be produced. Hospitals must be built, medicines assembled, doctors and nurses trained in the practice. So it does cost money and resources. How can doctor’s provide their services for free if it costs resources? Are they to be forced to serve? As a product, healthcare is limited, and as such, how is it to be given to all?

Phantom rights run into many problems, including monetary. To quote Ayn Rand “Paid for by whom?” “Blank out.” The notion that a product is a right means some people must produce this object or service, and thus someone must be forced to provide this service with a gun in his back by the government.

Some people will say, “Oh, but someone will do it out of their own good will!” Making a product and giving it away at no cost to the consumer is a private choice, one that no person can demand from them. To make it a right is to condemn a person to slavery, to work in order to provide for others, no matter what cost it is to him.

Those who proclaim a right to a service or product are mistaken in thinking everyone can have such a thing for a right with no economic consequences. They advocate the use of force, the power of a gun, to enslave fellow men into providing for them. Man’s rights are individualistic, as in they never demand from others or violate the rights of fellow men. Phantom rights simply do not exist.



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What Is A Phantom Right?


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