The “Right to Education” is an Invalid Concept
Note: This is an addendum to my previous blog entitled To All UP Students: Education is NOT a Right.
“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.” — Thomas Jefferson
Since a lot of UP students are ignorant of the proper concept of rights, I thought I had to tackle the nature and context of rights.
Knowing the proper concept of rights is very important, as it is the key to understanding whether Pedro has the right to ask the government to steal from Juan in order to satisfy his needs or desires. Our collective failure to understand this abstraction is what is bringing the whole country closer to dictatorship and socialism. Now we see liberals and leftist protesters asking for exclusive government protection, free or cheap medicines, free health care, free or subsidized food, free access to quality education, and free “everything.” What do you think will happen to a country of freeloaders and free-askers? Do they think that the government has the magical power to create wealth out of nothing? Where will the government get the wealth and necessary goods to satisfy and serve people’s needs and desires? In reality, we are not a free society. A free society means an informed society.
A right is not primarily a legal concept because it was not created by a piece of legislation or executive order. A right is not a constitutional creature. It is merely recognized and affirmed by our constitution. But the problem is, even our 1987 Constitution has a confused, invalid understanding of the concept of rights. This is the reason why our country is moving toward complete political and economic disaster and collectivism.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a somehow accurate and objective definition of rights:
Rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions or be in certain states, or entitlements that others (not) perform certain actions or be in certain states.
Rights dominate most modern understandings of what actions are proper and which institutions are just. Rights structure the forms of our governments, the contents of our laws, and the shape of morality as we perceive it. To accept a set of rights is to approve a distribution of freedom and authority, and so to endorse a certain view of what may, must, and must not be done. (Emphasis mine)
The following are the categories of rights:
A right to life, a right to choose; a right to vote, to work, to strike; a right to one phone call, to dissolve parliament, to operate a forklift, to asylum, to equal treatment before the law, to feel proud of what one has done; a right to exist, to sentence an offender to death, to launch a nuclear first strike, to carry a concealed weapon, to a distinct genetic identity; a right to believe one’s own eyes, to pronounce the couple husband and wife, to be left alone, to go to hell in one’s own way.
A “right” is a moral principle elucidating and warranting a man’s freedom of action in a social context. The categories of rights above show that rights are limited to man’s right to his LIFE, LIBERTY, PROPERTY, and his PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. The concept of rights excludes and rejects man’s right of force and compulsion. UP and other student university students’ demand for free and/or subsidized education is tantamount to a right of compulsion and force, that is, by granting the government the power to redistribute wealth and confiscate the wealth of those who work and produce in order to serve the interest and the needs of those who don’t. We have all the right to work and achieve our goals in life, but we don’t have the right to ask the government to provide us jobs by sacrificing private businesses and companies.
The legendary and most touted “right to free education” simply means the government must sacrifice a particular sector of our society in order to serve the welfare and the needs of a certain beneficiary sector. This is because the government has no depository of unlimited amount of goods and wealth. The government is not a productive agency, but an agency that relies on forced and not “voluntary” taxation, which is apparently an oxymoron. The student protesters’ demand for “free education” would only enshrine or establish institutionalized theft wherein the government plays the role of an ever benevolent Robin Hood by robbing the wealth of the productive members of our society in order to serve the weak, the not-have, or the less privileged.
Let me reiterate that the concept of rights does not include the right of compulsion and coercion, directly or indirectly. The worst form of coercion or extortion is the one being performed by the government in order to perform what is called the “greater good” or the “common good.” This is what is happening in most socialist slave pens on earth- in Cuba, in North Korea, in China, in Veneuzela and other dictatorships where the governments provide free health care, rationed or subsidized food, free education, etc.
Again, the “right to education” or “free access to education” enshrined in our 1987 Constitution is an INVALID CONCEPT, as it negates the Law of Identity and the Law of Causality. It is a contradiction in terms. The framers of our Constitution dismissed the fact that the government is not supposed to be a “Robin Hood” agency, but an agency which has the sole duty to protect our individual rights and to safeguard this country against invasion or any form of internal threat. The framers of our Charter forgot the fact that before there can be something to “redistribute”, there has to be a definite source of wealth. They simply did not understand the relation between production and distribution. The constitutional right to”quality education at all levels” and “accessible education” is a puerile fantasy that is never grounded in reality. Such a right is an invalid concept and a floating abstraction.
So what is an invalid concept? Ayn Rand states the following:
There are such things as invalid concepts, i.e., words that represent attempts to integrate errors, contradictions or false propositions, such as concepts originating in mysticism—or words without specific definitions, without referents, which can mean anything to anyone, such as modern “anti-concepts.” Invalid concepts appear occasionally in men’s languages, but are usually—though not necessarily—short-lived, since they lead to cognitive dead-ends. An invalid concept invalidates every proposition or process of thought in which it is used as a cognitive assertion.
The question really is not whether our students have the “right to quality education at all levels”, but whether there is such a fantastic “right.” I am primarily against this notion- that the state, according to our semi-socialist Constitution, has the eternal duty to “protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels” and “to make such education accessible to all”- simply because it is against economic and political realities and because it will only lead to our own collective destruction. In fact, it would be a great idea if the government really had the power to create wealth out of nothing. But this is not the reality. Reality tells us that the government is the most dependent entity on earth. It depends on our physical and mental ability to work and produce wealth. Thus, the concept of “free access to quality education” is a highly onerous mortgage on a non-existing wealth, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it.
I stated the following in one of my previous blogs:
Under Section 1, it is stated that “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.” Section 2 of the same Article enumerates how the government shall achieve its “education for all” policy. This provision simply means redistribution of wealth and that it makes the state the sole provider of our educational needs. This is a breach of both metaphysical reality and economic reality in that it regards individuals as helpless human beings who must rely on the government for their basic needs. The solution to quality and better education is privatization of all educational centers and institutions. Privatization is the only key to better access to quality education. Under a free-market system, competition will force schools, colleges and universities to lower their tuition fees, hire competent teachers and professors, focus on research, improve their facilities, offer scholarship grants, etc.
Ayn Rand, a Russian-born American philosopher, once wrote:
A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)
The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.
Thus, for every individual, a right is the moral sanction of a positive—of his freedom to act on his own judgment, for his own goals, by his own voluntary, uncoerced choice. As to his neighbors, his rights impose no obligations on them except of a negative kind: to abstain from violating his rights.
The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.
Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.
She further wrote:
The source of man’s rights is not divine law or congressional law, but the law of identity. A is A—and Man is Man. Rights are conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival. If man is to live on earth, it is right for him to use his mind, it is right to act on his own free judgment, it is right to work for his values and to keep the product of his work. If life on earth is his purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being: nature forbids him the irrational. Any group, any gang, any nation that attempts to negate man’s rights, is wrong, which means: is evil, which means: is anti-life.
Yes, by asking the government to serve and provide your educational needs, you are inadvertently contributing to the complete destruction of this semi-socialist nation.
Related blog articles on the concept of right: