Answer me this #2

by Lori Lavender Luz on September 5, 2009

in Answer me this

What makes something a right as opposed to a privilege?

(I’ve been planning to ask this question for quite some time. It is not aimed at any particular issue, although the words are certainly coming up a lot in conversations these days.)

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

areyoukiddingme April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I wish I could define right vs privelege. It would make those healthcare arguments so much easier.

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chicklet April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I’m pretty sure I can pay for the privelege of most things, but rights, not so much.

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areyoukiddingme April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I wish I could define right vs privelege. It would make those healthcare arguments so much easier.

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chicklet April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I’m pretty sure I can pay for the privelege of most things, but rights, not so much.

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Baby Smiling In Back Seat April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Rights are worth fighting for.

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Jamie April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Very interesting question. I like a lot of the answers before me. Chicklet, Mrs. X.

Growing up (especially as teens), that was a part of my Dad’s mantra. My brother and I had privelges, not rights.

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Mrs. X April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Unfortunately, what is a right and a privilege is often like beauty – it is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, it is what a bunch of people get together and decide it is. The Founding Dudes: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Many people argue that it is a privilege, not a right to have children, and thus insurance coverage and any type of societal sympathy for seeking infertility treatment is like seeking sympathy for not getting Viagra covered under Medicare.

I think rights are like obscenity: I’ll know one when I see one.

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mamabirdsblog April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Would it be too easy to say I believe the answer is as simple as our fore-fathers put it: Rights are those endowed by our Creator and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All else falls into the category of a privilege.

I think where it gets complicated is in defining the role of government in securing those basic rights. Is that going to be question #3? ;-)

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caitsmom April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Hmmmmm. Rights are what one deserves for the mere sake of being present. Privilege is advantage over others for a variety of factors and reasons.

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Martha April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Rights pertain to your liberty, safety of self and personal choices whether they be property or house of worship.
Privileges fall under the category of things that can be taken away without infringing on the above, like driving, voting, etc.
Quite a complex issue, geez, nothing like a philospophy discussion on the weekend, please pass me the mojitos por favor! Then I’ll sound really wise, ha, ha.

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Sunny April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Wow, that is a toughie!!!

I guess I would be pretty conservative on the list of things that are “rights.” Very basic stuff — the right to live life how you choose, excepting in cases that you would directly and specifically harm others. One person not infringing on the other person’s right to live how they choose. (Circular and probably nonsensical, but that’s the best I’ve got right now.) :)

Everything else — a privilege.

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Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Good point, Chicklet. A privilege is something that has a set value (which can change), and a right is priceless?

AYKM: you’re so right.

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Baby Smiling In Back Seat April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Rights are worth fighting for.

Reply

Jamie April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Very interesting question. I like a lot of the answers before me. Chicklet, Mrs. X.

Growing up (especially as teens), that was a part of my Dad’s mantra. My brother and I had privelges, not rights.

Reply

Mrs. X April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Unfortunately, what is a right and a privilege is often like beauty – it is in the eye of the beholder. In other words, it is what a bunch of people get together and decide it is. The Founding Dudes: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Many people argue that it is a privilege, not a right to have children, and thus insurance coverage and any type of societal sympathy for seeking infertility treatment is like seeking sympathy for not getting Viagra covered under Medicare.

I think rights are like obscenity: I’ll know one when I see one.

Reply

mamabirdsblog April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Would it be too easy to say I believe the answer is as simple as our fore-fathers put it: Rights are those endowed by our Creator and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All else falls into the category of a privilege.

I think where it gets complicated is in defining the role of government in securing those basic rights. Is that going to be question #3? ;-)

Reply

caitsmom April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Hmmmmm. Rights are what one deserves for the mere sake of being present. Privilege is advantage over others for a variety of factors and reasons.

Reply

Martha April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Rights pertain to your liberty, safety of self and personal choices whether they be property or house of worship.
Privileges fall under the category of things that can be taken away without infringing on the above, like driving, voting, etc.
Quite a complex issue, geez, nothing like a philospophy discussion on the weekend, please pass me the mojitos por favor! Then I’ll sound really wise, ha, ha.

Reply

Sunny April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Wow, that is a toughie!!!

I guess I would be pretty conservative on the list of things that are “rights.” Very basic stuff — the right to live life how you choose, excepting in cases that you would directly and specifically harm others. One person not infringing on the other person’s right to live how they choose. (Circular and probably nonsensical, but that’s the best I’ve got right now.) :)

Everything else — a privilege.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

Good point, Chicklet. A privilege is something that has a set value (which can change), and a right is priceless?

AYKM: you’re so right.

Reply

The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

A privilege is something that is earned, and a right is something to which you are entitled, regardless of merit.

You don’t have to be a “good” person to have rights. You have to be a “good” person to have privileges.

The rules for determining the differences are made by those in charge.

Reply

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

It seems to me that all rights -even those that some of us might argue *should be* natural – are granted us legally. As an American citizen, I have been granted certain rights in the great documents that govern our country. Life, liberty and the persuit of happiness might not be my right were I born in say, Nigeria or North Korea. When we talk about the difference between rights and privileges, we must remember that as citizens of a society where the majority determine the laws, we have the power to make any privilege a right, if we are willing to pay the price.

Now apply this to our current issues.

Is education a right? According to our current laws, a basic K-12 education is, if you are a citizen or legal resident. And for those that choose to live in our great country illegally? They do not have this right. We can change that, but can we afford to?

How about healthcare? In some countries like Japan and Norway, a citizen has a right to medical care. They do pay for it though. Their taxes are high and they recognize that these services are not free.

Deciding to make healthcare a right instead of a privilege is not as simple as getting a majority to vote on it. Obama has learned this the hard way. Making a change of this nature impacts so many systems within our society. One must then consider how to balance the unfairness of providing care to all fairly in a system where all do not pay equally into it. What of seniors and those in poverty who possibly need the healthcare more so than others? And if we as a society believe in life as a natural right (citizen or not) then how can we possibly turn away illegal residents who come seeking care?

The answers are ellusive but it’s logical to conclude that making a sweeping change of this nature will not come quickly – not in a few months time and possibly not in the next 3.5 years as some believe. If it truly the desire of the majority of Americans to make healthcare a right, our only hope of creating an effective and successful system will be to honestly evaluate the costs(and not just financially) and to fully understand the best practices of those countries who have traveled this road before us. It is afterall, how our forefathers once brought the Decalartion of Independence and Bill of Rights into existence, giving us the power to decide which privileges should become rights.

-Locke

Reply

luna April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I think a right is something so fundamental that it cannot be stripped away, whereas a privilege is not necessarily something you are inherently entitled to.

Reply

The Casual Perfectionist April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

A privilege is something that is earned, and a right is something to which you are entitled, regardless of merit.

You don’t have to be a “good” person to have rights. You have to be a “good” person to have privileges.

The rules for determining the differences are made by those in charge.

Reply

Anonymous April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

It seems to me that all rights -even those that some of us might argue *should be* natural – are granted us legally. As an American citizen, I have been granted certain rights in the great documents that govern our country. Life, liberty and the persuit of happiness might not be my right were I born in say, Nigeria or North Korea. When we talk about the difference between rights and privileges, we must remember that as citizens of a society where the majority determine the laws, we have the power to make any privilege a right, if we are willing to pay the price.

Now apply this to our current issues.

Is education a right? According to our current laws, a basic K-12 education is, if you are a citizen or legal resident. And for those that choose to live in our great country illegally? They do not have this right. We can change that, but can we afford to?

How about healthcare? In some countries like Japan and Norway, a citizen has a right to medical care. They do pay for it though. Their taxes are high and they recognize that these services are not free.

Deciding to make healthcare a right instead of a privilege is not as simple as getting a majority to vote on it. Obama has learned this the hard way. Making a change of this nature impacts so many systems within our society. One must then consider how to balance the unfairness of providing care to all fairly in a system where all do not pay equally into it. What of seniors and those in poverty who possibly need the healthcare more so than others? And if we as a society believe in life as a natural right (citizen or not) then how can we possibly turn away illegal residents who come seeking care?

The answers are ellusive but it’s logical to conclude that making a sweeping change of this nature will not come quickly – not in a few months time and possibly not in the next 3.5 years as some believe. If it truly the desire of the majority of Americans to make healthcare a right, our only hope of creating an effective and successful system will be to honestly evaluate the costs(and not just financially) and to fully understand the best practices of those countries who have traveled this road before us. It is afterall, how our forefathers once brought the Decalartion of Independence and Bill of Rights into existence, giving us the power to decide which privileges should become rights.

-Locke

Reply

luna April 7, 2010 at 4:19 am

I think a right is something so fundamental that it cannot be stripped away, whereas a privilege is not necessarily something you are inherently entitled to.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is hard! Who asked this, anyway!?

Anon: so many great thoughts in there. Thank you.

CasualPerfect: may I assume that the earning is related to the definition of “good”?

I think the issue goes to the crux of humanity’s task: to continually balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the group.

As said in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These rights, however ARE limited if/when they start to infringe on the same rights of another person. I do NOT have the right to take your Corvette, even if it is comes from my pursuit of happiness.

Similarly, if a right involves the labor or property of another person, it cannot be a right.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. More to come next Saturday.

Reply

Miss Tori April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Like many others have said, here in the USA, our forefathers have stated that our rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

A privelege is something that we have to work for in order to obtain. Having a car? Privelege. Owning a home? Privelege. Being safe in your home? Right.

We have extended those rights to include the Bill of Rights. People tend to forget this when they think that they should have something just because. They have forgotten the difference between a right and a privelege.

Reply

Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is a hard one because how we use these definitions changes from person-to-person, but I usually define a right as something you are entitled to simply because you are a human being and you need it in order to live and a privilege is anything above and beyond that. Though live and quality-of-life would need to be defined too.

Though some would say that rights are protected by law and privileges are not. So once we make laws to protect something, they become a right rather than a privilege.

Reply

Lavender Luz April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is hard! Who asked this, anyway!?

Anon: so many great thoughts in there. Thank you.

CasualPerfect: may I assume that the earning is related to the definition of “good”?

I think the issue goes to the crux of humanity’s task: to continually balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the group.

As said in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These rights, however ARE limited if/when they start to infringe on the same rights of another person. I do NOT have the right to take your Corvette, even if it is comes from my pursuit of happiness.

Similarly, if a right involves the labor or property of another person, it cannot be a right.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. More to come next Saturday.

Reply

Miss Tori April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Like many others have said, here in the USA, our forefathers have stated that our rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

A privelege is something that we have to work for in order to obtain. Having a car? Privelege. Owning a home? Privelege. Being safe in your home? Right.

We have extended those rights to include the Bill of Rights. People tend to forget this when they think that they should have something just because. They have forgotten the difference between a right and a privelege.

Reply

Lollipop Goldstein April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is a hard one because how we use these definitions changes from person-to-person, but I usually define a right as something you are entitled to simply because you are a human being and you need it in order to live and a privilege is anything above and beyond that. Though live and quality-of-life would need to be defined too.

Though some would say that rights are protected by law and privileges are not. So once we make laws to protect something, they become a right rather than a privilege.

Reply

Kami April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is a very interesting conversation.

I agree that as a society we decide what is a right and if it is a right it should be a right for all human beings. If the right to life is a right then it doesn’t matter which society we live in (although I’m not saying it is our responsibility to fix the wrongs).

It is interesting that our society seems to have decided that it is a right to reproduce otherwise why don’t we sterilize people who continue to have children that they cannot raise? Nevermind the gray area, there are many parents who have had child after child taken away for abuse and neglect.

I would say that we currently believe that health care is a privilege – only available to those who have earned it or can pay for it.

I would argue that health care ought to be a right and having / raising children ought to be a privilege.

I keep thinking of the phrase “right to life” That could mean the right to health care as well as the right to live in a clean environment (as in free from toxic pollutants), among others. Interesting that we put financial gain of a small subgroup of our society over the value of both of those things.

Reply

Kami April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

This is a very interesting conversation.

I agree that as a society we decide what is a right and if it is a right it should be a right for all human beings. If the right to life is a right then it doesn’t matter which society we live in (although I’m not saying it is our responsibility to fix the wrongs).

It is interesting that our society seems to have decided that it is a right to reproduce otherwise why don’t we sterilize people who continue to have children that they cannot raise? Nevermind the gray area, there are many parents who have had child after child taken away for abuse and neglect.

I would say that we currently believe that health care is a privilege – only available to those who have earned it or can pay for it.

I would argue that health care ought to be a right and having / raising children ought to be a privilege.

I keep thinking of the phrase “right to life” That could mean the right to health care as well as the right to live in a clean environment (as in free from toxic pollutants), among others. Interesting that we put financial gain of a small subgroup of our society over the value of both of those things.

Reply

WiseGuy April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Every right is a privilege, but every privilege is not a right.

Reply

WiseGuy April 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

Every right is a privilege, but every privilege is not a right.

Reply

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