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< Um..."life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are listed as
'inalienable rights' in the Declaration of Independence, and are therefore
not considered law in the US, as the Constitution and its amendments (The
"Bill of Rights" are technically the first several amendments to the
Speaking as an outsider, if these are inalienable rights, how can you
justify imprisonment and the death penalty? It would seem that you give your
law makers the right to alienate these rights for those who break the laws
they make. If this is the case, those rights are not inalienable.
Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that all prisoners should be
released (though personally I do find the death penalty dubious). I believe
in the rule of law. I believe that rights come as a result of our fulfilling
our obligations to the society we live in. In return, that society provides
a helping hand when we are down and protection, as far as possible, from
harm. The responsibilities come first.
The only truly free man would have the world to himself, and even then he is
limited by the boundaries of the planet and the impositions of nature. Our
freedoms are a balance of obligations between us and society. If we have
fulfilled society's expectations of us to be an upright and law-abiding
citizen and to treat our fellow citizens with respect, we can expect society
to help us out with unemployment benefits and the like.
Note I have not mentioned the need to work. Society only expects us to
contribute our labour for a certain part of our life. During the early part
of life, we are expected to learn how to fulfil later societal expectations.
Society provides the resources for us to learn. The middle part of life is
when we are expected to contribute our labour but when we can expect help
when we are unable to contribute for reasons beyond our immediate control.
In the later part of life, society does not expect us to contribute labour
though we are expected to have done our best to provide the resources to
support us during this period during the middle part of our life.
Thus, I would suggest there are no rights, duties or obligations; only
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