|If you believe everything you hear, you must
think you have rights coming out your ears!
Welfare statists tell you that you have rights to
free medical care, a free education, a government pension, welfare, and
other goodies too numerous to enumerate. Trendoids of political
correctness tell you that you have a right to be spoken of in
Capitalists tell you that you have the right to
live your own life, to earn your own living, and to own what you earn.
They tell you that you have the right to think your own thoughts, and
the right to speak your mind.
You see the problem: these cannot all
be rights! You can't have a right to your earnings if someone else has
a right to spend them to support his welfare habit. You can't have a
right to speak your mind if someone else has a right to dictate your
"sensitivity." There is no such thing as a right to violate rights.
Beware of counterfeit rights! But how can you tell
the true from the fake?
When gold coin was money, men faced the same
problem of telling the true from the counterfeit. The final arbiter was
the acid test. A coin that failed the acid test was a fake, a fraud, a
We need an acid test for rights. Fortunately, it
is easy to devise one, straight from the definition of a right.
"A right is a moral principle defining and
sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context."1
The purpose of rights is to
spell out your freedom of action so you can defend it in specific
issues without having to debate all of political philosophy. Freedom is
primary, rights are its guardians.
Now ask: how can your freedom be impaired or
Only by force can your
freedom be infringed. Only force or the threat of force can
compel you to act against your judgment. And force means
force: whips and knouts, fines and prisons, fire and sword,
pit and gallows, a gun in your ear!
The acid test of a right is: Does the
alleged right prohibit—or authorize—the initiation of force?
If it prohibits the initiation of force, it is a
If it authorizes the
initiation of force, it is a fake, a fraud, a rip-off! It is not a
guardian of your freedom, but an assault upon it!
Now observe that welfare "rights" authorize
forcible collection of handouts, and that sensitivity "rights"
authorize forcible silencing of peaceful speech.
Those who circulate bogus rights are enemies
of freedom. They are statists camouflaged in the
capitalist clothing of individual rights!
"Man's Rights," in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,
Ayn Rand, Signet, 1967, p. 321.
needn’t despair at bogus rights—you
can become a Quackgrass activist! Copy this article! Keep the original
for future copies. Paper meetings with it! Paper your office! Leave a
stack on your business counter! If you expect hostility, use stealth
and cunning—it’ll drive your opponents wild! Be
ingenious! Have fun!