Understanding the difference between “individual rights” and government-provided “privileges” is as important as understanding the difference between freedom and slavery.

It’s simple to understand: We own our “individual rights,” such as our Bill of Rights. The government owns the “privilege” that the government provides, such as public welfare, public housing, public education, driving, etc. Nearly everything that the government subsidizes is a privilege that the government owns.

Individual rights are essential for freedom. Some privileges are essential for the safety of citizens.

What concerns me is bureaucrats (and citizens) referring to our individual rights as government-provided privileges, and vice versa.

As an example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently referred to the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights as a “special privilege.” Also, people often refer to different forms of government-provided welfare (such as health care) as an “individual right” when they are really privileges.

To add to the confusion, some educators refer to our individual rights as “negative rights,” while referring to government-provided privileges as “positive rights.” They claim negative rights interfere with the positive rights the government is trying to provide.

Just remember, if we as individuals own the “right,” it’s our individual right. If the government owns (or controls) the “right,” it’s really a privilege.

Our Declaration of Independence recognizes that every individual is born with certain “unalienable rights,” which come from our creator, not from government. Every individual has a force field of individual rights around us (including our Bill of Rights), which protects us from each other and from the government itself.

Our Founding Fathers recognized that if citizens believed individual rights came from government (not from our creator), then our rights would become a worthless “special privilege,” as Feinstein refers to them. There would be no protection from a government with unlimited power to distribute, modify and rescind privileges.

In a system of excessive privileges, “freedom” of individual rights (and individual responsibility) is replaced by the perceived “safety” of government-provided privileges. Citizens become slaves of government in the form of excessive debt (and taxes) to pay for the privileges, and by conforming to the excessive requirements of the privileges.

Modem-day totalitarian systems, such as the Nazi, Soviet and current worldwide “communitarian” system, are collectivist systems of privileges without individual rights. Everything, including all life, is considered a “special privilege” owned by government. The cream of corruption rises to the top, as the most selfish individuals gain government control over the privileges of fellow citizens for their own personal agendas.

In the Nazi and Soviet systems, millions of citizens were murdered by their own governments, because citizens had only their worthless “special privilege” to protect them from government.

The United Nations is a system of privileges without individual rights. The United Nations’ “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” should be called the “Universal Declaration of Human Privileges.” Every “human right” is a privilege owned by the United Nations. Article 29 states, “These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

Imagine our Bill of Rights stating, “All Bill of Rights may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of government.” Our Bill of Rights would be a worthless “special privilege” with no protection from government.

Today, most countries (including the U.S.) function under communitarianism ideology and communitarian policies (such as Agenda 21, “Sustainable Development”). Everything, including all life, within the local and international “community” is considered a “special privilege” owned by government.

Written into our Napa County General Plan is the definition of communitarianism, calling for “balancing the rights of the individual with the rights of the community.” The “rights of the community” include government privileges and policies.

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When the government believes it can “balance” our individual rights with their privileges and policies, government implies ownership over individual rights. You can’t “balance” what you don’t own, meaning individual rights are considered a “special privilege” owned by government.

On March 21, 2012, I discussed communitarianism with Napa County Sheriff John Robertson. He stated, “As you know, you surrender some of your rights to live in the community.” He said the only way to protect individual rights was to join government.

On Aug. 10, 2012, I discussed communitarianism with Napa Mayor Jill Techel. She asked, “Don’t we elect representatives to balance rights?”

I replied, “Where does the power end, if government believes it can balance individual rights?”

In most communities (including Napa), it’s no longer a question of privileges versus individual rights; it’s a question of who within government controls the “special privilege” now called “individual rights.”

Bottom line, without citizens understanding the difference between their individual rights and government-provided privileges, the U.S. is destined to become a nation of government-owned slaves.

Eggers lives in Napa.

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