Let’s start the day off with a little Ayn Rand:
“Well, anyway, it was decided that nobody had the right to judge his own need or ability. We voted on it. Yes, ma’am, we voted on it in a public meeting twice a year. How else could it be done? Do you care to think what would happen at such a meeting? It took us just one meeting to discover that we had become beggars—rotten, whining, sniveling beggars all of us, because no man could claim his pay as his rightful earning, he had no rights and no earnings, his work didn’t belong to him, it belonged to ‘the family,’ and they owed him nothing in return, and the only claim he had on them was his ‘need’—so he had to beg in public for relief from his needs, like any lousy moocher, listing all his troubles and miseries, down to his patched drawers and his wife’s head colds, hoping that ‘the family’ would throw him the alms. He had to claim miseries, because it’s miseries, not work, that had become the coin of the realm—so it turned into a contest among six thousand panhandlers, each claiming that his need was worse than his brother’s. How else could it be done? Do you care to guess what happened, what sort of men kept quiet, feeling shame, and what sort got away with the jackpot?”
Rand was prone to repetition, and few would accuse her of being overly subtle, but she did capture the dynamic that championing need over rights puts into force. Multitudes of competing claimants inevitably arise, simply because there’s no cost to doing so. They don’t have to offer anything but their whines, though some will supplement them with threats to public order.
Need as an entitlement is the seed for a carnivorous plant whose growth accelerates continuously. It can’t be constrained; it can only be killed. But it is not unique. Any substitute proposed for rights – “the legacy of slavery,” “a history of marginalization,” “the public good,” what have you – will produce a similarly ravenous plant with the same growth curve.
Rather than beat a concept this important into the magma layer, I’ll close here with a question for my Gentle Readers:
That has not experienced such a growth curve?
I’ll be waiting for your contributions. And yes: more anon.