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The Right to Life August 15, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

Four couples moved to a village.

They agreed at the outset that everyone in the village had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

They also agreed that everyone in the village would pay 1/10 of their earnings in taxes ~ a communal pool to cover shared expenses.

The first couple, the Smiths, started having children ~ popping one out every year.  The other couples discouraged this behavior and encouraged the Smiths to use birth control to keep the population to a manageable level.

The Smiths refused, insisting that the village had a responsibility to provide their growing menagerie with food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, and  supervision.

The Smiths argued that “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” included the right to procreate . . .  whether or not they had the necessary resources to care for their growing family.

The second couple, the Trouts, had lots of bad habits ~ eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in other risky behavior . . . all to excess.

The other couples discouraged this behavior and encouraged the Trouts to eat and drink in moderation, quit smoking, and curtail other risky behaviors.

Woodstock-&-Snoopy3The Trouts insisted that “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” included the right to engage in whatever behaviors they chose . . .  and that the other villagers had a responsibility to provide medical care for injuries and illness caused by their dangerous proclivities.

As expected, the Trouts needed extensive and expensive medical care as a result of their bad habits.

The third couple, the Wanderers,  liked to travel and enjoyed exotic cuisine. They didn’t work in the village or contribute much in taxes to the communal resources.  They spent all they earned and didn’t save for the future.  The other villagers encouraged them to earn more and contribute more to the communal pot but the Wanderers refused.

The Wanderers insisted that “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”  included the right to travel to foreign ports . . .  and that the other villagers would have a responsibility to provide for them in old age.

The fourth couple, the Wrights, enjoyed staying home and puttering around the yard.  They grew organic fruits and vegetables to ensure they ate a healthy diet and enjoyed plenty of fresh air and exercise.

The Wrights chose to remain child-free in order to avoid the time and expense associated with rearing children.

They didn’t smoke or drink and seldom ventured outside the village.  They saved their excess earnings for the future.

After a number of years, the resources of the village became strained by the life choices made by the Smiths, the Trouts, and the Wanderers.  All three couples drew more from the communal pool than they contributed, due to the choices they made.


Wikipedia ~ Beggar (in Public Domain)

The three couples argued that their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness meant that the Wrights had a responsibility to dig into their savings to provide for them in their “hour of need.”

The Wrights disagreed, refusing to dip into their savings to pay more than the agreed upon 10% in taxes.

The Smiths cried, “That’s not enough!  Our children are starving.”

The Trouts cried, “That’s not enough!  We’re dying of heart and lung disease.  You have a responsibility to keep us alive!”

The Wanderers said, “We would have contributed more, but we’ve been too busy to work.  We need you to provide us with food, clothing, and shelter.”

The Wrights listened to the Smiths, the Trouts, and the Wanderers and shook their heads in disbelief.

Finally, I. M. Wright spoke to the assembled group:

You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . period.  If you woke up on a desert island ~ you would have those rights and nothing more. You would NOT have a “right” to food, shelter, education, medical care, etc., unless and until you provided them for yourself and your family.

You’ve confused basic human rights with something that derives solely from a “social contract.”

We never agreed to support you in the lifestyle to which you’ve grown accustomed.  We encouraged the Smiths to stop having children.  They refused to listen.  We encouraged the Trouts to stop engaging in risky behavior.  They refused to listen.  We encouraged the Wanderers to work and put some money aside for their retirement.  They refused to listen.

Your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is YOUR responsibility, not ours.   You made bad choices and shall have to live or die with the consequences of those choices. 

The Smiths, Trouts, and Wanderers of the world are like the Grasshopper ~ making choices without effectively considering the consequences.

When their choices create unnecessary suffering for themselves and their families, they expect someone else to step in and fix the situation for them.

But resources are limited because there aren’t enough Wrights around to compensate for the multitude of bad choices being made.

The right to life means that we should refrain from taking active steps to shorten another’s life . . . it does NOT mean that we are obligated to take active steps to save people from the stupid decisions they choose to make.

No rules.  Just write! 

What about you?

Do you feel sorry for the Smiths, the Trouts, and the Wanderers?  Do you feel that I.M. Wright is wrong ~ that he is obligated to finance their stupidity?

Do you feel that the “right to life” imposes a burden on others to keep us alive and to protect us from self-created harm?

Or do you agree with I.M. Wright that our “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is our responsibility, and others need only refrain from acting to shorten our life span?

Related posts:  The Grasshopper and the Ant * Are Human Rights Alright ~ part 2 * Paternalism Produces Whiny Babies * Life: A Balancing Act * Begging The Question (BainWaves)



1. Richard W Scott - August 15, 2011

Oh shades of Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged) (books, by the way, I have read multiple times and loved).

I agree, Nancy. But then, when it comes to me, you’re preaching to the choir. I write repeatedly about the problems of the notions of “entitlement” that we have created for ourselves and for our children.

As a nation, our inability to take responsibility for our own actions, to face the consequences, to deal with the reality, is appalling.

Good, clear, and easy to follow post.

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

I get annoyed when people define “basic human rights” as including all the things they feel entitled to receive . . . rather than as the right to earn those things for themselves without interference from others.

People want free will to make their own choices. That’s fine . . . as long as they FREELY accept the consequences of their actions and omissions.

I am tired of paying for all the stupid mistakes people make.

2. 2e0mca - August 15, 2011

In the UK people pay into a pot (the National Health Service is the most obvious example). Unfortunately, as always, there are those who deliberately live of the backs of the others. Equally, there are others who through their personal circumstances cannot contribute to society and live off the backs of others through no fault of their own. Until we find a foolproof way of differentiating between the two we are faced with supporting both while hoping that law will catch up with the self-serving people who could be working. And… even that’s a simplistic view given the current state of the labour market 😦

A thought provoking post as usual – thanks for providing the forum 🙂

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

We are compassionate enough as a species not to want to say, “You made this mess and shall have to live with the consequences of your poor choices.”

But with the increasing volatility of the weather straining the resources of humanitarian relief efforts, we are going to have to start making tougher choices. Including:

* Enforced sterilization for those who keep having kids when they can’t afford the children they already have.

* Enforced relocation from “danger zones” to locations more suited for human survival.

The problem is that everyone wants the FREEDOM to make their own choices . . . without having the responsibility of accepting the consequences of their actions.

That must stop.

Our freedom of choice should NOT impose a burden on others to foot the bill for our poor choices.

3. Maggie - August 15, 2011

If you want children, make sure you can provide for them. If you can’t, keep your legs closed. If you want to eat and enjoy eating, then balance that with exercise. If you don’t want to exercise, quit eating so much. And if you like to go places and do things, make sure you’ve got the money. If you don’t, don’t spend money you don’t have.

Easier said than done, I know. But unfortunately, as humans, we do tend to feel like we’re “entitled” to certain rights and privileges. There’s very little self-control left in society; our problems become another person’s problems because we expect someone else to deal with our problems.

‘Twas a thought-provoking post. 🙂

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

If I were a benevolent dictator:

* I would not continue welfare payments to anyone capable of working. People who wanted a hand out would get a hand up instead. I would move them into intentional communities where they could grow their own food, sew their own clothes, and learn to provide for themselves.

* I would not continue child support to parents unless and until both parents submitted to sterilization or relinquished custody of their children to others more capable of raising them.

* I would restrict the use of food stamps to REAL FOOD.

* I would make parenting classes MANDATORY before children were released to their parents ~ nutrition, exercise, etc.

Tough love . . . we could use more of it.

4. misswhiplash - August 15, 2011

Make a copy and send it to David Cameron. Maybe then he would be able to make sensible decisions….

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

Thanks, Patrecia! The situation is Somalia is sad, but the solution is not to continue to throw money at a situation that is doomed to repeat itself.

We need to stop throwing food at starving people and figure out a way for them to support themselves.

5. andalibmarks - August 15, 2011

I agree. People’s perception of ‘rights’ is a little confused. I fully believe in preparing for the future, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy yourself along the way. You just have to remember that, a few years down the line you have to still be able to look after yourself!

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

If I sit on my ass all day . . . and starve to death as a result . . . I have no one to blame but myself.

And there are far too many people doing just that ~ instead of finding work, they apply for welfare. Instead of refraining from having children they can’t afford, they produce offspring like bunnies . . . and then ask for larger child support subsidies to keep the kids alive.

And food stamps are traded for drugs and alcohol.

It’s got to stop. Change is long overdue.

What if we took old dilapidated buildings and put people to work to renovate them. Once renovated, people who can’t afford housing elsewhere move in and eat in a communal dining room . . . with healthy nutritious food.

People living in these intentional communities would have to work to earn “chits” for the food and shelter they received ~ mopping halls, picking up litter, preparing food, providing child care to working adults, etc.

Everyone would scream . . . NO. That’s not fair. They should be able to CHOOSE where to live and what to eat.

Not on my dime, mister. Not on my dime.

If you want choices . . . pay for them yourself . . . don’t stick your hand out in my direction and expect me to foot the bill.

andalibmarks - August 16, 2011

Ah, but wouldn’t some think of this as ‘demeaning’ (spelling please!)
I mean, ‘we have to mop floors in order to eat? Please!’
Sometimes I wonder if the Chinese policy of having only one child would have a good effect. Then again, if that was in working order here, I wouldn’t be here seeing as I’m number 4 in line!
Still, in the renovated buildings you speak of (which are in fact very good ideas of how to change the world we live in on all levels) won’t the drugs and alcohol abuse still be rife?

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

I met an intelligent young mother on welfare at a Famliy Support Center. The center was helping her to earn her G.E.D. and helping her to line up job interviews.

She intentionally sabbotaged the job intereviews. When asked why, she said (point blank), “I don’t want a job. Working for someone else is demeaning. I’d rather stay on welfare. It’s easier.”

WTF? And what are her children going to learn watching her? The same LAZY attitude ~ accepting hand outs rather than hand ups.

The drug and alcohol abuse is a separate problem. Those folks would be rounded up and put in a medical facility for treatment. They also would have to work for their room and board.

6. Naomi - August 15, 2011

Quite a story, Nancy, and a whole lot more complicated in a country like SA. I heard a report the other day about a proposed national health care policy, which will see us paying even more, on top of the already exorbitant fees for private health care. It takes some contemplation…

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

It is a complicated situation, especially transitioning from the old way of thinking to a more “modern” approach.

Rights come with responsibilities. Those who refuse to accept responsibility for themselves must forfeit rights if they want someone else to pick up the tab.

I am tired of supporting those who refuse to help themselves.

7. SuziCate - August 15, 2011

I get quite annoyed by those here in America who seem to think they are entitled to everything and think they should not suffer the consequences of actions. Can we have this easy to follow parable put into school curriculum as it is obvious not being taught in all homes?

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

The riots in London are an example of Entitlement Gone Wild.

Those punks obviously think that they are entitled to anything and everything they want and see nothing wrong with just taking what they want from others.

My advice to them . . . GET A JOB!

And if you can’t get a job, spend some time familiarizing yourself with basic rights and responsibilities so that when you do get a job you’ll be able to keep it.

Chad - August 22, 2011

“My advice to them . . . GET A JOB! ”
Hire them. They’d take a good offer.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Really? Are you sure about that, Chad?

I met an intelligent young mother on welfare at the Famliy Support Center in Salisbury. The center was helping her to earn her G.E.D. and helping her to line up job interviews.

She intentionally sabbotaged the job intereviews.

When asked why, she said (point blank), “I don’t want a job. Working for someone else is demeaning. I’d rather stay on welfare. It’s easier.”

Perhaps, you’re imbuing people with positive characteristics they don’t yet possess?

8. Rosa - August 15, 2011

Loved this story!! With rights come responsibilities!

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

Yes, indeed.

People don’t see the consequences of the STUPID choices they make because someone always comes along and bails them out.

From now on, I suggest that we adopt a “sink or swim” approach to life. And if you’re caught looting, or stealing, you will be SHOT first . . . and questioned later.

That would have quelled the riots in London a tad faster than unarmed police politely asking the hoodlums to cease and desist.

And as parents cried, “You can’t shoot my kids,” I’d reply . . . “Keep them home with you and they’ll be safe.”

Tea, anyone?

9. Carl D'Agostino - August 15, 2011

Mandatory parenting classes. A Hillary Clinton idea. There is no doubt our society needs such a thing. But designed according to whose agenda? The far right, the far left, the Christian right, the Hollywood/gay agenda, the atheists, the birthers, the conspiracy theorists, the communists?

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

I don’t see that the parenting classes require religious or economic indoctrination. Most babies require the same care regardless of where they are raised ~ feeding, changing, bathing, health care, safety, cost, etc.

10. barb19 - August 15, 2011

I hear what you’re saying Nancy – we need to exercise some tough love into our societies, and take responsibility for our own actions.
A thought-provoking post indeed!

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

Thanks for weighing in on this, Barb. It’s a very serious moral issue because generally we’re not asked to step in until the chips have already fallen.

There are too many of us to just keep re-acting to natural and manmade disasters in the same old way. We need to set up some guidelines so that people know that if they make stupid choices . . . they alone will have to pick up the pieces.

11. Piglet in Portugal - August 15, 2011

I def agree with the Wrights. Life is about choices, but they are your choices and others should not be expected to subsidise them. 🙂

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

Lately, it seems that more and more hands are being extended for hand-outs rather than hand-ups. People love having a “free ride” while someone else foots the bill. They want to claim the right to “free choice” without seeing their concommitant responsibility for making intelligent choices.

I, for one, say ENOUGH!

If people want to make stupid choices, that’s fine . . . but they should be the ones to live with the consequences of their decisions.

12. Penny - August 15, 2011

Life is about choices, but they are your choices and others should not be expected to subsidise them. I do agree, we have responsibilties to uphold with each of these choices. I also, agree-our system needs a big overhaul done.

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

A massive overhaul from an “entitlement” mentality to a “pull your own weight” mentality. 😀

13. GroundCherry - August 15, 2011

It’s a fascinating post. Partly, I sympathize very much with the Wrights. On the other hand, we in the US live in a crazily inequitable society in many ways. To take a really basic example, I am a “ordinary hard-working American,” with a full time job (and have had one for 95% of my adulthood). I have an education, and I did quite well in both undergrad and grad school. However, I’m in a position where I will be paying off student loans for at least 5 years, and cannot save any where near to the maximum for retirement. Why? I don’t live extravagently (some eating out, but not even a car). But, the living costs in my area are high. I foolishly chose a stereotypically female career and actually paid for some of my education. Therefore, the salary maxes out after about 4 years because they expect you to go have babies. I haven’t even managed to keep up with cost of living expenses. It’s frustrating. I’m not wasting my health, or creating too many children, or spending extravagently, but I may well need governmental assistance when I am elderly as I won’t have any children to care for me.

I do think kids need to have reasonably equitable beginnings, and they don’t. Compare my rural high school to the urban elite schools and the urban average schools and it’s completely different. I think salaries are absurdly variable (why does the computer programmer with a BS get paid 2-3 times what I do with an MS in nutrition?), and we should all start in the same village.

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

I absolutely agree with you about the salary inequities.

* There should be a cap on what the highest paid employee makes in a company in relationship to the lowest. As it is, the CEO’s basically skim the cream off the top to finance extravagent lifestyles while the “worker bees” barely earn enough to live.

* The salaries paid to movie stars, rock stars, and sports stars are out of control. I would cap them as well. They could “sign” for any amount and get bragging rights . . . but anything over $X a year would be contributed to the communal good.

* Same with the Waltons and Oprah and other people who “earn” more than anyone needs ~ tax them out the wazoo and start to level the playing field by providing better education and healthcare to all.

Team Oyeniyi - August 17, 2011

Yes, yes and yes

nrhatch - August 17, 2011

Team Oyeniyi ~ You and I must run for office together! We’ll get things sorted out in no time! 😉

Team Oyeniyi - August 17, 2011

I’m trying to!

Chad - August 22, 2011

Disagree on your second bullet point. Entertainers and athletes are among the only people who make that kind of money who actually earn it. Nobody has to see a movie or go to a football game. And those that go, go to see the entertainers or athletes perform – NOT to enrich the “owners” of these enterprises. People willingly pay fair prices for these things, unlike say housing or health care where the “market” sets the price, and one does not have a real choice of “going without” things like energy, housing, health etc.
Entertainers who make top dollar usually do so without exploiting ANYBODY. Your first and third bullet points are spot on!

14. adeeyoyo - August 15, 2011

This is absolutely the best post I have read in some time, Nancy! Also your replies to comments are so well thought out. Congratulations – you are really sensible!

nrhatch - August 15, 2011

Wow! Thanks, Denise. You made my night! 🙂

Now, I’ll have to tackle the problems with the proposed road across the Serengeti.

15. Booksphotographsandartwork - August 15, 2011

Enforced relocation from danger zones, that’s interesting. Something to think about. Nothing else is working.

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

Some places are not conducive to human habitation. Rather than trucking food in . . . I’d suggest moving the people out.

Tilly Bud - August 16, 2011

That smacks a little of forced re-settlement. How did that work out last time? Not great; just like in South Africa.

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

OK. Let them stay put and starve to death.

16. Cindy - August 16, 2011

I couldn’t have put it better. Bravo!

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

Thanks. All week I’ve been reading articles where “basic human rights” and “basic human needs” are used interchangeably. They are NOT the same thing at all.

If I woke up on a desert island, I would have basic human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I would NOT have anyone else to hand me the basic necessities of life ~ food, clothing and shelter. Those we must provide for ourselves.

If we don’t, we die . . . unless we have a “social contract” that offers “basic human needs” to all who cannot provide for themselves.

17. earlybird - August 16, 2011

You’ve said it all. Taking responsibility.


nrhatch - August 16, 2011

We may be reaching a tipping point where the “Wrights” of the world are tired of the attitude of the Smiths, the Trouts, and the Wanderers.

We may see a reshaping of social contracts with a bit more “tough love” thrown into the mix.

Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is OUR responsibility. If we make bad choices, we shall have to live . . . or die . . . with the consequences of those choices.

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19. Tilly Bud - August 16, 2011

An interesting exercise, Nancy. I agree with it up to a point. The argument seems to be, however, that people make choices and must cope with the consequences. Fair enough. But my husband got CFS/ME because he worked hard and played hard; he contributed to society but he overdid it. His illness is a direct result of his behaviour: would he qualify for help under this scheme?

I agree we should certainly help ourselves. We had two children when he became ill, and wanted at least one more. We chose not to have one because of our situation. My own boys are decent young men who will not be a drain on society: cash providers can’t know that until it happens; would we be disqualified until we prove they are worthy of help?

Like I said, I do agree, up to a point; but things are rarely black and white and I think your argument may be a little too simplistic.

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

I don’t know whether your husband would qualify under “this scheme.” I wrote it merely to highlight that “human rights” are NOT the same thing as “getting everything that I feel that I am entitled to in order to survive.”

Whether your husband would receive support depends on the Social Contract where you live.

This post is NOT written to describe the perfect Social Contract for all nations. It is written to remind individuals that their Rights are their Responsibility, not ours.

All week I’ve been reading articles where “basic human rights” and “basic human needs” are used interchangeably. They are NOT the same thing at all.

If I woke up on a desert island, I would have basic human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I would NOT have anyone else to hand me the basic necessities of life ~ food, clothing and shelter. Those we must provide for ourselves.

If we don’t, we die . . . unless we have a “social contract” that offers “basic human needs” to all who cannot provide for themselves.

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21. kateshrewsday - August 16, 2011

For every life choice we make there will be great consequences and less great consequences. I make some rubbish life choices but I make some great ones too. I am certainly a long way from perfect.

Everyone needs a locus of control bang-smack within them. They need to take responsibility for what they do. But from our chaos, occasionally comes a serendipitous event. Lots of kids might be just what that community needs. One of the Wright’s life-choices will have a consequence that they will need looking after in old age and, quite possibly, the ones doing it will be little Smiths.

There is nothing black or white, or polarised, about the business of living with our fellow human beings. Sometimes we need to acknowledge that we all have strengths which can help our fellow men, and weaknesses which means we will need their help.

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

Of course, Kate.

There is a benefit in sticking together in this sticky wicket of life. That’s why we form into groups and develop social contracts.

But, again, the point of this post is not to design the ideal social contract. I merely intended to demonstrate that basic human rights are not the same thing as basic human needs.

Once people see that distinction, they understand better where their own responsibilities lie . . .

kateshrewsday - August 16, 2011

I’m with you there, Nancy 🙂

22. hugmamma - August 16, 2011

i’m impressed with your fable…is it your creation? and it garnered a great conversation…i’m still reeling from all the opinions…

still pondering mine… 😉

nrhatch - August 16, 2011

Thanks, hugmamma. I wrote it yesterday morning after thinking about some posts I’d read that seemed to equate “basic human rights” with “basic human needs.”

I decided to blog about what I perceive as the difference between the two. Instead of writing an essay, I created a microcosm of the world in a single village to highlight that rights come with responsibilities.

23. eof737 - August 17, 2011

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I feel sorry for the Smiths, Trouts, Wanderers and Wrights; our “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is our responsibility in a just world where everyone has full access to all of the advantages a nation has to offer… and where those who fall on hard times or are unable to help themselves are helped by their fellow men.
Given the nature of our ridiculously expensive medical system, Mr. Wright could’ve fallen off his high horse and lost his entire savings and farm to outrageous medical bills or worse yet, lost it in a savings and loan debacle or a Madoff fiasco and then his lot would be the same as his suffering brethren.
To whom much is given, much is expected… all who suffer are not necessarily guilty of wanton excess or laziness; bad things do happen to hard working, disciplined people. Plus, I don’t believe in kicking people when they are down; regardless of how they got there…
Your post is food for thought for all of us and that is a good thing Nancy. It affirms in my heart my belief that “I want to belong to a society that treats its vulnerable people with respect…” Dr John Sentamu
TY! 😉

Team Oyeniyi - August 17, 2011

I agree with your opening quotation and your sentiments, but I also agree with the original post.

Personally, I differentiate between a nation’s weakest members and a nation’s stupid members.

To whom much is given, much is expected – including responsibility.

It is a difficult question, but I tend overall to agree, on the fcts given, with I.M. Wright.

nrhatch - August 17, 2011

@ Team Oyeniyi ~ Thanks. I agree with you. I’m happy to help people who have done all they can to help themselves.

I am tired of subsidizing stupidity.

@ Eliz ~ Those suffering in this fable ARE guilty of wanton excess and laziness. They are NOT hard working, disciplined people. They are parasites.

I.M. Wright is NOT “kicking them when they are down.” He’s not doing anything to them. They did it to themselves because they refused to weigh the consequences of their actions. They dug their own holes.

They want FREEDOM without the concommittant responsibility ~ and that type of mindset is apt to get them in trouble.

And they have no one to blame but themselves.

24. crumbl - August 19, 2011

Who knew you were such a hard case bad ass, Nancy? I’ve only, until today, read your posts on JT’s blog, but …

I don’t disagree with a word. I might even go further in my condemnation of the freeloaders of the world, but that would be politically incorrect of me (yeah, like I care about being PC).

People who, through no fault of their own, need and deserve help (up) … not an issue. People who want to keep leeching off the blood, sweat and tears of others, some of whom are barely making it work … nada.

nrhatch - August 19, 2011

When we look at “real people” (rather than the cardboard cutouts I created here), we often see extenuating circumstances for sloth and entitlement issues ~ learning bad habits from crappy parents, broken homes, bad neighborhoods, peer pressure, etc.,

Everyone has an EXCUSE as to why they are a “victim” of life in some respect or another.

NO ONE gets through childhood “unscathed.”

What we need to do is round up all the Victims and put them through a 12 step program:


You and I can be guest lecturers. 😉

25. Team Oyeniyi - August 19, 2011

I’ve got one for you. Today my daughter is hopping mad and rightly so. Her bank sent her husband’s new credit card to their OLD address. We have recently introduced this “no sign, no pin” thing for transactions under $35. They are $150 down the drain because a TWELVE year old opened the evelope and started using the card. He has been caught – he was known to the police already for stealing computers.


nrhatch - August 19, 2011

That’s awful. Clearly that young man is already planning to be a parasite rather than working for what he wants. 😦

Most of our credit cards limit our liability to $50 for fraudulent charges . . . but in this case she should have NO LIABILITY. Hope she can straighten things out soon.

Team Oyeniyi - August 19, 2011

Oh, yes, the bank will be liable. The situation made me think of this article of yours straight away. What sort of a society are we building?

nrhatch - August 19, 2011

A selfish, greedy, dishonest, grab-all-you-can society?
A sit on your ass and let others do the work society?
A society based on delusions of adequacy?

Take your pick. 😦

26. crumbl - August 19, 2011

Ask yourself this, Oyeniya … would EVER it have occurred to you to do this as a child? or as an adult? Certainly, not to me.

What sort of society are we building? A sad one indeed. Thankfully, my (non-existent) children won’t be making it any worse.

nrhatch - August 19, 2011

Same here, crumbl. If that card had come in the mail to our house, my mom would have taken it around to the post office for forwarding.

It would never have occured to us to try to use someone else’s credit card.

27. crumbl - August 19, 2011

We should start preparing our PowerPoint presentation, Nancy … road trip, here we come. Think the world’s ready for a couple of maverick thinkers like us? I dunno … I’m all for being an iconoclast, but …

nrhatch - August 19, 2011

Ready or not here we come! 😉

I’d be more inclined to hit the road if I held out hope that it would do any good. Sadly, I fear that our combined iconoclasm would fall on deaf ears. Silly rabbits!

28. Tammy - August 19, 2011

Going for the most contraversial post Nancy? 😉 It’s a tough one and for the most part – when I look at my peers who are from a similar background, I agree completely. Where I have a tough time is with those folks that have truly never had a role model to show them how to eat right or how to save or that multiplying might not be the best choice. I agree that “handouts” are not the best solution and I believe in the dignity of work but I also believe there is sometimes a gap between the two.

nrhatch - August 20, 2011

Not at all. I just wanted to highlight the distinction between “basic human rights” and “basic human needs” using a simple dysfunctional village as a microcosm of some of the problems that arise when we confuse the terms.

If we agree on the problems inherent in this dysfunctional village,. perhaps we can more easily see the village of the future ~ the one we WANT to live in. Then, we can figure out how to get from where we are to where we want to be.

29. Homework or swimming – life decisions! | Love versus Goliath : A Partner Visa Journey - August 20, 2011

[…] little exchange reminded me of a recent article by NRHatch, The Right to Life and the theft of money from my daughter’s husband via a credit card mailed to an old address […]

30. Chad - August 22, 2011

couple observations here…
1. You are a Republican.
2. People who are not as well off as you are frequently or almost always dealt a worse hand. Likewise, in real life, the “Wrights” are not necessarily those who worked hardest, but those who were born into station, grabbed the best land, exploited natural resources and the labor of others, or secured one of a limited number of high-paying jobs. Actual labor does not pay that well.
3. If hard work and living right produced an overflow of fortune, I would be inheriting billions of dollars from my parents. They are not rich though. Perhaps you could tell me what “mistakes” they have made such that they will have to work until they die while those for whom they worked run away with millions.

Chad - August 22, 2011

#1 may not be fair actually. I did not mean to imply that you are not an independent thinker.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

I am definitely NOT a republican ~ see my response to Comment #13. 😉

As I mentioned in a few of the comments . . . this post is NOT designed to create an equitable social contract. It is merely designed to get people to see that a social contract is a distinct animal from “basic human rights.”

What rights would you have if you woke up on a desert island?
Who would look out for you if no one else was there?

When people confuse “basic human rights” with “basic human needs” . . . they tend to feel that others OWE them a living.

Nope. They don’t. Not unless there is a social contract in place which says that the group will provide basic human necessities to all.

If there are too many Smiths, Trouts, and Wanderers who take more out than they put in . . . there will NOT be enough resources in the communal pot to meet everyone’s needs.

As for the gross inequities in society . . . I’ll leave that subject for another day. See my response to Comment #13 for a preview. 😀

Chad - August 22, 2011

“If there are too many Smiths, Trouts, and Wanderers who take more out than they put in . . . there will NOT be enough resources in the communal pot to meet everyone’s needs.”

There are enough resources in the world for everybody to live a “rich” life – enough good food, enough water, enough resources and land to build everybody spacious, high-tech, comfortable housing, enough clothes, enough drugs, enough labor, enough good ideas, enough good will. We could all enjoy travel and vacation time, health care, sweet houses, entertainment, and good food. The ONLY thing there is not enough of is money. I suspect in the Wright-Smith-Trout-Wanderer village there is enough material and enough labor to go around. But those who have accumulated vast amounts of it – perhaps the “Wrights” or perhaps some other, un-named-in-the-parable landlord – simply enjoy having more than they need. To me, it would feel better to give aid than to condemn.

I find it strange that you view human beings as a drain – children as something that must be “afforded,” for example, rather than a PERSON, who after being cultivated will add to the community, not cost it. I view human beings as intrinsically valuable. The Smiths actually contributed MORE than the Wrights in a sense, because if everybody lived Wright then there would be no village, and in fact things would get pretty scary when everybody in the village became old in their childlessness. The Wanderers confuse me too. Are they low wage workers? If so, how can they afford to travel? Or are they making good money? In that case, they are putting in 10% like everybody else so they can hardly be called non-contributors. I don’t see much problem here either.
As for the Trouts, I can see why a non-compassionate person would be desperate to rationalize the desire not to help by blaming the victim. Needless to say, nobody actually “lives healthy,” everyone is at risk regardless of their participation or abstinence in behaviors which you may disapprove of, and if the common fund (which the Trouts were paying into, right?) doesn’t pay to protect their health then it shouldn’t pay to protect the Wrights’ property from looters and thieves via policing and prosecution either.

If the Wrights were NOT traveling, NOT having children, and NOT drinking, then I say shame on them. They should have lived a little, but instead they want to force their deprivation on everyone else. Just because they managed (partly through luck) not to be a burden on anybody (according to the terms of the story anyway) does not give them the right to control the common fund and how it should be spent. They should have gotten satisfaction themselves instead of wishing to play holier-than-thou. If they truly don’t need anybody, and wish for nobody to need them, LET them move to a desert island instead of being part of a community.

Sorry for the long comment.

comment edited

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Your arguments are carefully tailored to support your assumptions about life . . . rather than seeing the “what is” as it is.

A few examples of your “disconnect” with the reality of this dysfunctional village:

1. Why would you characterize the Trouts as “victims” . . . victims of what? Their own free will? 😀

Actually, to use your language . . . I can see why a non-compassionate person would be desperate to characterize them as victims. True compassion involves encouraging people to make better choices. When we label them as victims, we encourage them to collapse into a heap and hold out their hand for charity.

How is THAT compassionate?

2. The Wrights aren’t trying to impose their will on how to spend the communal pot . . . the pot is EMPTY. Drained dry by the choices made by certain members of the village.

These “human drains” are now asking the Wrights to put in more than the agreed upon 10% because the “human drains” drained the pot dry by taking out more than they put in.

The Wrights lived up to their part of the social contract. They need not continue to subsidize stupidity to prove they are compassionate.

3. Who says the Wrights are “deprived”? Not me. Not them.

They enjoyed their right to life, liberty AND the pursuit of happiness “in their own backyard.”

4. Given the facts of this parable, you’ve made a rather surprising and ridiculous assumption ~ that the Smiths children “will add to the community, not cost it.”

The Smiths have taken more out of the communal pot than they’ve put in ~ they’ve been “human drains.” If their children do the same, the situation will continue to deteriorate, not improve.


Chad - August 22, 2011

So, true compassion means not offering them the help (health care in the case of the trouts) that they need? Odd.

comment edited

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Yes, I believe so.

Tough love is far more compassionate to this and future generations than labeling people as “victims” . . . based on the stupid decisions they’ve made.

Far better to encourage them to stand on their own two feet than collapse into a ball with their tin cup beside them on the sidewalk.

31. crumbl - August 22, 2011

I have to disagree, Chad, with some of your observations. Yes, I guess, in the US, I would be called a conservative Republican … here, I subscribe to no political affiliation, ’cause I think they’re all full of crap and don’t stand for anything; however, that leads me off my topic …

Everything I have, I worked for, from grades good enough to get me into university at 16, which I paid for myself, having left home at 15, to where I am today. Nobody gave me a dime I didn’t earn … not a trust fund baby. My wife … same thing … her parents actually had money, and still didn’t give her a dime … she went to university at 17, and paid for it all herself.

I disagree with your premise that the “Wrights” in the parable were privileged … I read into it that all 4 couples invested and started equally, and one couple made better choices.

Yeah, totally agree … life can be inequitable, you can work hard and have nothing to show for it … not everyone is born to money and privilege … maybe we just get lucky, maybe we make better choices like the “Wrights” … I neither excuse nor apologize if I have more … believe me, I earned it, sweat, blood, tears and brains.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Bravo! We could use a few more just like you and your wife, crumbl. 😀

Chad - August 22, 2011

Thanks for responding. crumbl, it sounds to me like you are getting what you deserve. But as you say, “you can work hard and have nothing to show for it.” So, maybe you are getting what you have earned; but why are others NOT getting what they earn? This is the question that interests me.

what is your profession? Do you live in a country with universal health care? Just curious. Also: do you see our world as a place where “finders keepers” or “to the victors go the spoils” is the rule, or do you think there is enough abundance to go around? Thanks again for replying.

Chad - August 22, 2011

by the way, my post was not directed at you. I just realized that you may have thought my post was a reply to yours. I was replying to Nancy’s original blog post.

32. crumbl - August 22, 2011

Didn’t think that at all, Chad … no worries … even if I felt it was directed toward me … I’m a big boy … I can stand up for myself.

Do we have “universal health care”? Yes … is it universal? Hardly!

Why aren’t some people not getting what they earned? Why aren’t some people winning a $50 million lottery? I dunno … life is inequitable. Not everyone gets what they deserve, and not everyone deserves what they get.

Do I think the world, or life, owes me more than I make of it? I think you can intuit my answer to that, and to the follow on question … do I think I owe anything to the people who think the world or life owes them more than they make of it?

To answer your one question, Chad, at the moment, I write for a living … mostly business writing. Made all my serious money in sales, stocks and real estate … writing’s fun, sailing and flying for a living will be more fun, and that’s where I wanna be.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

Crumbl ~ I’ve got an article you might enjoy:


33. crumbl - August 22, 2011

A bit verbose for my taste, but interesting, thank you, Nancy. He made some interesting points.

nrhatch - August 22, 2011

I’m a recent fan of Bain Waves.

His posts are longer than most blog posts, but he weaves from point to point with an eloquence I admire.

34. Entitlement Mentality: a personal perspective | Love versus Goliath : A Partner Visa Journey - April 20, 2012

[…] writer, Nancy of Spirit Lights The Way,  who sometime ago wrote a great thought-provoking article: The Right to Life.  Joe Hockey may love this article. I find it very applicable to this discussion in […]

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