Human rights should be liberties – not privileges. For individuals – not groups.
If you buy into the idea of collective rights or rights-as-privileges, you are going to lose them all.
A human right is your protection from the overwhelming power of the state. It delimits the force that has armed enforcement at its disposal. Don’t remove those limitations in the hope that the state would deliver you free stuff – if only it would be allowed.
Confusing freedoms with privileges (and individual freedoms with collective privileges) is an easy mistake to make because politicians want you to make it. But the original concept of human rights meant freedoms from oppression. Human rights were to defend the individual from organized power.
But then these civil liberties (freedom of speech, the right to own property, freedom from violence, etc.) have been rebranded as “rights” – and then a few other “rights” have been added to dilute and devalue the originals.
This is why the second generation of rights were not liberties at all. They were privileges that could only be obtained at the expense of someone else. “Right” to healthcare cannot be secured without making doctors and nurses provide it – think about the doctors in Cuba. “Right” to housing sounds lovely, too, as long as you don’t think about who is supposed to build you a house and at whose expense.
I am not being cruel, mean or conservative. There is a very practical problem with rights-as-privileges that erodes liberties – and not even by accident. Redistribution is needed to secure these second-generation privileges – and redistributing who owns what is the essence of power. Giving more of it to the state doesn’t mean that you will now get you want. Imagine that power going to the person you don’t like. The politician you don’t trust. An idiot who has no clue.
People who lived under communism were oppressed in the name of redistribution. Other people’s needs were cited as an excuse for robbing you, taking your property, and arbitrarily giving it to someone better connected. It was an excuse to force you into professions you didn’t choose and decide how much you need to earn. Working more didn’t mean making more money because you didn’t need more just because you worked harder. The state claiming more power to be able to redistribute, propaganda making people furious and demand stuff to be taken away from groups they were told to blame – it has always been a precursor to genocides and severe intervention into the economy to the point of crushing it (just look at Venezuela). Victims of communist regimes had the right to free healthcare. And a lot of other things like bread and butter. But there wasn’t any left.
Hungarians had a gleeful, dismissive phrase to describe this permanent state of shortage:
“Járni jár, csak nem jut“
– which loosely translates to
“Yes, you have a right to it, but there isn’t any left.”
Which is also the case with human rights, if we dilute them with privileges.
And the third generation of “human rights” are another category still. It is a premeditated political sin to put them under the same label of “human rights”.
Because we can run out of the provision of privileges – just as communist regimes ran out of free healthcare and cheap food to hand out – and then you will learn that you can run out of rights.
People are not happy when there is no free food left – but there’s no arguing with it. And slowly but surely the same logic started to apply to their real human rights, their freedoms, even though all they cost is leaving the people alone.
Today, we run out of free housing. You have the right but there isn’t any left. Tomorrow we can run out of the freedom to choose your own vocation because we need builders to slave away at building new housing.
This is how the second and third generation of “rights” have been used to devalue and eliminate the first (i.e. your freedoms) since time immemorial. And whenever you clap like a baby seal for the “right” to, say, basic income you are being duped again because it will just increase the state’s clout to take stuff from humans, to attack their right to keep the property they rightfully obtained in mutually voluntary transactions.
Giving up your freedoms in the hope of free stuff won’t even necessarily deliver you the free stuff – because at that point it won’t have to. By that time you won’t have freedoms nor any tools to make demands.