Sarah A. Hoyt has an interesting discussion of positive rights, what they are and why they are a bad idea.
The reasons the original commenter was so proud of Canada’s flexibility was that he pointed out it allowed them to “modernize” and grant citizens “positive rights.”
In fact the lack of positive rights is a reason our Pres(id)ent Affliction thinks the constitution is passe and should be revoked.
For those of you who don’t know what positive rights are, they’re not “I’m dang right positive that you can’t do anything the constitution doesn’t allow, and I’ve got this here gun to positively ensure that.” (One kinda wishes it were though.)
Positive rights are guaranteeing things, usually material, that are in the “rights of men” (a well known Soviet tool to fire back at free countries that called it on its abuses) but not ah… accruing to the human condition.
For instance, some countries guarantee “minimal sustenance” or a “minimum income” or “housing” or “health.”
The problem with these guarantees are that you can’t obtain any of those things without taking them from another human being. Just saying “you have a right” doesn’t cause them to appear out of clear air. So the “positive right” of one person is the “negative theft of the other.”
While I think all taxation is theft (hey, I’m clear headed on this, okay) I think some theft is sometimes vaguely justified on the grounds of “we need to have common defense and we’ll defend the guy we stole from, too.
Mind you, this is not particularly morally right, but in a world where just being inoffensive doesn’t guarantee you’re not attacked (on the contrary) it’s necessary for collective survival.
However while you can extract penumbras and emanations where “to make everyone minimally affluent is good for everyone.” (Government is a word for the things we choose to do together, like drunken orgies and baby sacrifice!) Those are a bit far fetched. It’s pretty easy to prove it’s easier and more profitable to defend x amount of territory and everyone in it than one individual here and one there, by themselves. It’s harder to prove that making sure Miss Aramintha Smith in Kentucky having a minimum of 20k she doesn’t have to work for is better for me, and so I should make that amount over at a minimum per year. I think Miss Aramintha should get off her behind and go to work.