Before I write about this topic, I want to say that this was the most difficult post I’ve written to date. It was intellectually extremely challenging. Not because I’m trying to make things up, but because explaining and proving that which is obvious isn’t so easy. It’s like trying to prove why 1 + 1 = 2. Anyone who has actually tried doing that will know what I’m talking about. Suffice it to say that I went through multiple revisions and edits.
Inalienable rights are rights that each individual has that cannot, must not and should not ever be taken away from them under any circumstances or situation, that which are vital to the prosperity — not necessarily financial — of any individual’s life, and are the basic building blocks of other rights, privileges, a Just philosophy, and Justice. Our founding fathers thought that these inalienable rights are self-evident, but self-evident to whom? To us Americans, we’ve lived with the concept of inalienable rights, individual freedoms and privileges, so when our founding fathers said these inalienable rights are self-evident, not only do we not question it, we also assume that they were right and there’s nothing to explain; i.e., it is what it is. However, most rest of the world doesn’t have a clue what inalienable rights are let alone know how to define it and know what are and are not inalienable rights. This is why I have to explain that which is so obvious to us, but not to the rest of the world, because there is no such thing as universally obvious anything.
Therefore, one must explain, in a rational manner, precisely what rights are inalienable and why. However, this is no easy task; perhaps one reason why our founding fathers left it as “self-evident.” Regardless, in order to define the self-evident nature of inalienable rights, I believe we have to start with what defines, drives, and necessitate all and any human being. Once this is done then I believe that universal inalienable rights will define themselves. So, as always, with any argument the assumptions have to make sense otherwise the logic built on top of the assumptions may be flawless, but the answer will be dead wrong. And, don’t forget, there is no relative logic, i.e., no your logic versus my logic; logic is logic is logic. If reasonable, rational people can’t come to an agreement, typically, it isn’t because of the logic that each party applies, but the assumptions underlying the logic. With that in mind, I will layout what I BELIEVE are inalienable human rights and why. If my assumptions are Just then what follows ought to be not only rational, but also, and, most importantly, universal.
I’ve lived all over the world and visited many, many more, and what I’ve discovered is that there are universal human characteristics that everyone around the world seems to value, no matter how different the culture, history, or political system. These include Justice, sanctity of life, honor, honesty, loyalty, respect (where it’s due), true friendship, intelligence, creativity, rational thought, marriage, family, family values (values themselves may be different, but the concept itself is universal), education, humility, sacrifice, charity, and belief in one or more supreme being. This leads me to believe that there must be common morals and values that we can also agree on.
The first of these must focus on Justice and rational thought, because injustice — or the desire for real Justice — is the basis for most human upheaval and without rational thought we cannot communicate with each other, and if we can’t communicate with each other, we end up killing each other and that’s good for no one. What I’ve found is that everywhere around the world, no exceptions, every honest and upstanding citizen of the world looks for Justice from others and want to be Just to others; they look for and seek Justice. And, to give and receive Justice, these same people use rational thought and rational arguments to convince others of the merits of their view; however, as always, the problem is is that the underlying assumptions tend to be very different from country to country, even region to region. Regardless, because of every individual’s need for Justice, we can conclude that Justice and rational thought are the two most basic fundamentals of human values that govern the orderly and fair interaction of all humans. However, in order to have Justice, people must be able to voice that which they believe to be right and wrong and, together with a forum or venue to air those thoughts, the backbone of the Justice system must be born. For these things to occur, we must have not only the right to freedom of speech, but also the right to freedom of the press. So, born from universal characteristics of all humans, the first two of our inalienable rights are defined: Freedom of speech and freedom of press.
The right to freedom of the press also serves another purpose. And that is to spread the word of Justice, to alert us to injustices and to help rally people to righteous action. Also, through the medium of the press — which includes print journalism, internet, TV, and radio among others — we can debate, express, and communicate issues, educate and inform people, and expose truth as well as corruption.
Our third inalienable right, must address the issue of the sanctity of life. Before I get to the explanation, let me say why sanctity of life is second to Justice and rational thought. It is because there are things in life that are not only more important, but also more sacred than life itself, because without it life itself would be meaningless. I’ve written about this in other posts, so I will not explain this position here. Moving on.
No one in the world would disagree that we must have the right to our own life. This has very direct consequences, one of which is a mirroring: Meaning, if we have the right to our life then we must also have the right to when and how we want to end our life. Next, comes the protection of life. Therefore, I strongly believe in the right to bear arms. The right to bear arms is a universally understood concept in view of protecting one’s life, but it is not universally accepted as a right that everyone should posses. Meaning, the reasoning for why the right to bear arms exists and what it is intended to accomplish is universally understood, but despite understanding the reasoning, most people around the world disagree that average citizens of any country should be allowed to bear arms. From their point of view, gun proliferation is one major reason why America has so many violent crimes, because the criminals never know when they’re going to encounter citizens who have a gun when they’re committing a crime, so the criminals must carry guns too, in their opinion. This then has broad reaching consequences in their minds, and these consequences end up creating a society where gun violence is prolific, i.e., the USA. For this reason, many in the rest of the world will never agree to the right to bear arms even though they understand the logic. However, there is a “loop hole” that most people don’t think of and make them nervous to consider.
And this is that the right to bear arms also serves another, perhaps more important purpose, which is the ability of the citizens of any country to take up arms against an unjust, corrupt and immoral government that otherwise cannot/won’t be changed peaceably. Most people in the rest of the world don’t want to consider this to be a viable reason for citizens’ right to bear arms, because it makes them nervous to think about the overthrow of their government through violent means or otherwise. However, when gently pushed, most will agree that it is a valid point, but then they come up with all these other reasons why it’s still a bad idea, because they say how often do we have to overthrow the government that we have and what good are guns against tanks, planes and helicopters? My retort: If there has to be a revolution and it turns violent, would you prefer to face the entrenched government forces with your bear hands or with some armaments? Typically, I get no argument from those that are reasonable and rational.
Also, if we have the right to our own life than no one else can have the right to it, which means slavery cannot be allowed, and if we are the masters of our own life then we should also have the freedom to choose who to marry, when and how, and have the ability to decide when to have children. This means that there should be no difference between LGBT or heterosexual marriages, full-stop, period, the end, and abortions should be allowed. Does this mean that we should allow an abortion in the 38th week of pregnancy? Of course not, so limitations can and must apply, but this does not mean that unreasonable restrictions should be allowed. Abortions in cases of rape or incest must not face any unreasonable resistance, period, full-stop, the end. And, again, typically, the objections to abortions, any abortions, and the machinations that are hatched to restrict abortions are driven almost exclusively by religious fervor. And, again, these people are looking to impose their will and philosophy on everyone else, and regardless of their moral position on abortion, their desire to force everyone to their will, in and of itself, is evil. As an aside, let me state that I am not for abortions within my family, and I think it is wrong in most circumstances for abortions to occur — exceptions for incest and rape. However, I strongly believe that it is morally reprehensible to force others to your philosophy and view, and this is why I am pro-choice. I am not willing to say that my philosophy is the only right and true philosophy and force others to abide by it. Everyone has the right to practice their own philosophy (including religious philosophy/doctrine), and no one has the right to impose their philosophy on everyone else, period, full-stop, the end. This then must be the basis of another inalienable right and that is the right to practice and live one’s own philosophy (including religious philosophy/doctrine), as long as it does not harm or interfere with others and their lives or violate their rights.
Also, given that every culture believes in Justice, I would advocate that a transparent, robust, independent and Just judicial system is paramount to any society and, therefore, the right to access such an impartial and fair judicial infrastructure must be another universal inalienable right. Elements of a strong judicial system would include right to a speedy trial, right to confront all accusers and witnesses against the accused, the right to not incriminate oneself, presumption of innocence — i.e., innocent until proven guilty — no illegal search and seizure, the right to a jury trial, and for the punishment to be greater than the crime to act as a deterrent. Justice would also demand that there be proper due process in every criminal and civil case, no seizure of property, assets or wealth without Just compensation, and to gain Justice, we must all have the right to petition our government for redress of grievances, such that those grievances may be aired in public and settled to the satisfaction of all those that witness the process for settling such grievances. Therefore, the process of settling disputes must include an impartial and independent judicial branch that every citizen must have equal and fair access to.
However, the point of “presumption-of-innocence” is one that is highly controversial since outside of the USA there are hardly any countries that abide by this moral principle. In contrast, in the vast majority of the rest of the world, it is exactly the opposite, meaning that an accused is guilty until proven innocent. Most countries look at our judicial system and believe that it is completely and utterly “broken,” given the percentage of adult population that are or have been incarcerated, our crime rates, and the lengthy and cumbersome judicial process that prevails in the USA. And, the rest of the world isn’t necessarily wrong. This is the primary reason why I believe that the PUNISHMENT MUST BE GREATER THAN THE CRIME, if we are to abide by the moral principle that an accused is innocent until proven guilty and our judicial system isn’t perceived — or in reality — to be “broken.”
Also, as an adjunct to the Justice system, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, we must have the inalienable right to congregate. We must have the right to meet so that we may listen to and air grievances, discuss issues, share information, teach, learn and peaceably resolve disputes.
The next inalienable right can be derived from the fact that every country needs a central government to conduct certain affairs on behalf of its citizens. My philosophical and rational underpinning for this assertion is history, current reality and the fact that most every citizen in this world that I’ve spoken to from a vast array of countries agree that a central authority/government is absolutely necessary. If you look at world history, no country has ever existed without such an entity; at least, no country in history has existed without such a central authority for long. This strongly implies that a central government is necessary, and that the central government must serve its people. History shows us when a government stops serving its citizens — all of its citizens — revolution and violent end to those that are in power are often the consequences. And, given that there cannot be any slavery or indentured servitude of one group of people to another, all citizens of the country must be treated equally and without prejudice, segregation, discrimination or separation by the central authority. This has many consequences, but, for now, I will focus on the services that the central government must provide its citizens. Based on rational thought, human characteristics, and human necessity, the only two services that are absolutely beneficial to everyone would be self-defense (military, police, national security agencies, diplomatic missions, judicial system, etc.) and infrastructure (roads, ports, rails, sanitation, fire stations, ambulance services, space programs, basic scientific research, information for citizens, etc.).
To this, I would add education (including academic and scientific research), and not jast for the male segment, but for everyone that wants to and has the aptitude for studying. In many parts of the world, this is not self-evident nor rational, but if one were to dig into the reasoning behind why women are excluded, it would not take long for one to discover that religion plays a central role in the exclusion of women from educational opportunities. Enough said. Going back to the main point, I know that public education doesn’t benefit everyone equally — the poor benefit disproportionately more than the rich. However, I strongly believe that in order for the country as a whole to have the opportunity for the most innovation and creativity, we must give anyone and everyone with the inclination and aptitude to possibly make a difference that opportunity to do so. And, at the end of the day, innovation and creativity benefits everyone. This is why I would add public education as the third leg of essential services that the central government must provide its citizens. However, my position is only universally accepted in Asian countries. Even in the US, it is still highly contentious as to whether equal access to public education should or should not be an inalienable right.
Some have argued that healthcare is a must that everyone benefits from. Not so. The rich can pay for their own healthcare. So, then I am accused of being a hypocrite. Again, not so. Every country in the world that I’ve lived in or visited believes that the cornerstone to success should be or is education. There is no other starting point. Whether you are rich or poor, if you have a good education, one can financially become successful, at least in all of the countries that I’ve visited or lived in. Once someone has such financial flexibility they can afford, on their own, to pay for food, shelter, clothing, healthcare insurance, and other essentials and luxuries. Therefore, I believe that education is the cornerstone to every other necessity in life, and if wildly financially successful then not jast the cornerstone to necessities, but also luxuries. This is why I believe that public education must be made available to anyone that has the aptitude and willingness to study and make it on their own. No other programs should be made available through government. All so called “social programs” should be conducted through private charities, otherwise we violate the moral principle that no individual must be forced into serving the benefit of another. Also, the way I think about public education, it is an infrastructure program, and not a so called “social program.”
By limiting the government services to these three things: 1) Self-defense, 2) infrastructure and 3) education, I strongly believe that we can limit taxes to an average of about $15,000 per person who is working in the US. Again, in the US, this translates into about $2 trillion of income tax revenue or roughly $700 billion for self-defense (exclude war spending and it should be even less), $400 billion for infrastructure (need the extra $100 billion to upgrade and maintain our infrastructure) and $900 billion for education. Interest expense and principal on government debt should be collected as a separate item or through a national sales tax until it is reduced to a manageable level, after which interest and principal should be collected through the income tax mechanism. I’ve written about what is an acceptable level of debt in my book, “The New Constitution for Modern America,” so I’m not going to go into it here.
Anyway, the minimization of taxes will maximize capital available to the private sector, which would then fuel economic growth to unprecedented levels. This economic investment and growth is the best and only policy justifiable to alleviate and fight against poverty. However, should individuals choose to use excess capital for charitable functions, low income taxes would also maximize the available capital for such activities as well. Please note that in my perfect world, there are no state governments, so no state taxes, and since education is being paid for through the central government, local/municipal jurisdictions need not collect property taxes for this purpose either. Therefore, if necessary, there is more than enough room for the average tax to increase from an average of $15,000 to a maximum of 20% of an individual’s income.
Therefore, other than agreed to and permitted income taxes for the three and only three necessary functions of government and the temporary surcharge for government debt, all other income and wealth of any individual must be absolutely sacrosanct and untouchable by any other individual, organization or government other than the person who earned/accumulated that income/wealth. This then forms the basis of another inalienable right: The absolute right to one’s own income, property, assets and wealth.
Also, as individuals, and because we are individuals, we must be allowed our privacy, which means that no personal data of any kind must be published, printed, or publicized without the prior consent of the individual unless the information is the revelation of a criminal, an immoral or an illicit act. Otherwise, no exceptions must be allowed regardless of who the subject may be. Therefore, the right to absolute privacy is another inalienable right that we must posses.
Also, being that government should be there to serve its people and not the other way around, each person must have a say in who becomes part of the government that serves them. Therefore, democracy is the only Just, moral and rational form of government, and the only one that should be acceptable to Just, moral and rational individuals. Of course, this means that every adult citizen should have the right to vote and no one, no organization nor any government will make laws, rules, regulations or the like to restrict, abridge, deny, inhibit, cancel or otherwise circumvent the right of any adult citizen to vote for their representation.
Also, in a democratic country, the military is not necessary to keep the peace in society and a well-functioning and peaceable democratic society has police and other security apparatus to keep an orderly society functioning properly. Therefore, there should be no need to garrison military personnel among the civilian population without insurrection, rebellion, or chaos in the society.
Most importantly, each individual must have the right to live by their own moral code, as long as their moral code does not interfere with the rights of others, harm others or interfere with other people’s lives. This is because we are born naturally as rational beings, with freewill, and individual personalities, characteristics and thoughts. Therefore, this individuality must be respected and preserved, which is why individual philosophical beliefs — including all religious beliefs — must be absolutely respected.
Finally, no laws shall be allowed to exist that in any way shape or form limit, restrict, revoke, nullify, abbreviate, or otherwise circumvent any of our inalienable rights and freedoms or are deemed to be immoral or unjust. If such laws are demonstrated to exist then those laws shall immediately be revoked without prejudice and all who were injured by such laws shall receive compensation for such injuries, whether the injuries be physical, mental or financial.
This implies that not everything can be put to a vote. And, the majority voting for something does not necessarily make the outcome of the vote a fair, Just and moral result. For example, if the majority of Americans were to vote to reinstitute slavery, it does not make slavery moral, Just or fair. Therefore, we must limit that which can and cannot be put to a vote. Items that are believed to be moral issues, or inalienable rights and freedoms must never be allowed to be voted on. So, for example, issues of suffrage, slavery, right to property, income and wealth — other than through permitted income taxes that are required to fuel authorized government spending — right to one’s beliefs, philosophy (including religious beliefs), or moral code, morality issues such as abortion, gay marriage, the right to a dignified end to one’s life, the right to do with one’s body as one pleases, among others should NEVER, EVER be permitted to be voted on.
The importance of inalienable rights and individual freedoms can never be stressed and emphasized enough. But defining them is not easy, let alone defining them to make them universally acceptable. However, if one is successful in defining these correctly and universally then we can be on the road to true world peace. I don’t know if my attempt at doing so achieves universality, but the attempt was made in earnest. Regardless, I’d love to know, if my view of the world and how I think of it resonates with others. So, if you found my post remotely interesting, please take the time to comment. I’d love to have an intelligent and rational discussion with people all over the world about this subject.
For more, please read my books, “… Under the Constitution with Liberty and Justice for ALL,” available at http://www.CreateSpace.com/3978962 and also available on Kindle, and “The New Constitution for Modern America,” available at http://www.CreateSpace.com/4281897 and also available on Kindle. Please don’t forget to rate this post. Any comments or questions are welcome and can be left for me on this blog, @Ahmedinejahd on Twitter, on Facebook or via email at AlexAhmedinejahd@Yahoo.com. Thank you in advance for buying my books, and rating this post. And, thanks for visiting my blog; I hope you get an opportunity to read my other posts. Have a great day!