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  1. #111
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I'm quite curious, why do you make exception for the Louisiana Purchase?
    Because it doubled our total land area at relatively little cost....the extraordinary nature of the opportunity justified the pragmatism that Jefferson displayed under the circumstances. Even then, he was worried about the impact of such unconstitutional actions, and urged the Senate not to address the Constitutional issues in order to minimize the future impact of the precedent he set. In other words, the unconstitutional nature of the Louisiana Purchase caused him and others great moral discomfort, which they chose to weather through for the sake of truly exceptional utilitarian benefits. Kind of like the actions of almost any Constitution supporter who 'worships' the Constitution.

  2. #112
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    On the plus side, his stance is too insane to ever be promoted as a real policy, so... it's not like it matters.
    I know why Lark opposes my stance, but why do you characterize it as 'insane'? What 'positive rights' do you think legislatures must be prescribed to provide, and jurists effectively empowered to dictate, always at someone else's expense, regardless of voter intent? To me, that's the kind of thing that belongs in the realm of cost-benefit analysis subject to voter scrutiny and consent. Also, not to nitpick, but we're talking about Constitutionally prescribed actions, not government policies....that's a pretty crucial difference, especially in light of the thread topic.

  3. #113
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    What 'positive rights' do you think legislatures must be prescribed to provide, and jurists effectively empowered to dictate, always at someone else's expense, regardless of voter intent?
    Right to a fair trial, for instance (or the right to counsel, in the 6th amendment). I don't see why that is at anyone's expense, except the lazy and criminally negligent. Dismissing this goes beyond "slippery slope". You'd end up with a whole country of cops acting like the ones in the film LA Confidential. And probably worse.

  4. #114
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    Right to a fair trial, for instance (or the right to counsel, in the 6th amendment). I don't see why that is at anyone's expense, except the lazy and criminally negligent. Dismissing this goes beyond "slippery slope". You'd end up with a whole country of cops acting like the ones in the film LA Confidential. And probably worse.
    Fair enough; the right to counsel is actually a 'negative right' (i.e. the government cannot stop you from using any willing counsel that you choose), but interpreting the Amendment to mandate the provision of public defenders certainly constitutes a 'positive right', and one with utilitarian value that has not proven unduly burdensome overall. As a general rule, however, 'positive rights' tend to come at the expense of 'negative rights', and provide copious loopholes through which governments can circumvent explicitly delineated limits on its powers (thereby defeating the entire purpose of having a Constitution in the first place).

    In the context of my response Lark's post, I was thinking more along the lines of vaguely defined, Constitutionally prescribed provisions of various public goods and welfare programs, such as health care, housing, public transportation, electricity, etc. Those are open-ended (effectively unlimited) mandates that come at a high economic cost, the costs and benefits of which should be subject to democratic debate.

    Out of curiosity, are there any other 'positive rights' that you consider it insane to oppose, or did you just think I opposed public defenders (I don't, btw)?

  5. #115
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    Because it doubled our total land area at relatively little cost....the extraordinary nature of the opportunity justified the pragmatism that Jefferson displayed under the circumstances. Even then, he was worried about the impact of such unconstitutional actions, and urged the Senate not to address the Constitutional issues in order to minimize the future impact of the precedent he set. In other words, the unconstitutional nature of the Louisiana Purchase caused him and others great moral discomfort, which they chose to weather through for the sake of truly exceptional utilitarian benefits. Kind of like the actions of almost any Constitution supporter who 'worships' the Constitution.
    As far as I can see your exception for the Louisiana Purchase just throws you into the same bin as all the rest of us. It leaves adherence to the constitution as an option which we decide whether or not to take after the ideas for and against it are weighed by the political authorities of our time. Perhaps you simply err on the side of caution more than average, but it does not make you qualitatively different.

    On this discussion of rights that's taking place, I have the hunch that anything defined as a negative or positive right can be effectively defined as the other.
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  6. #116
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    Out of curiosity, are there any other 'positive rights' that you consider it insane to oppose, or did you just think I opposed public defenders (I don't, btw)?
    Some negative rights will be breached without implementing positive ones. Social security and welfare, especially for senior citizens and the disabled. By and large, they can not take care of themselves. They're not going to start up any lucrative, self-sufficient enterprises anytime soon. Some weren't born this way, but many were born at a complete disadvantage (especially the mentally retarded and [severely] mentally ill). You only have two choices. Give them a "mercy kill", or simply help out. Making a choice like this is what seperates insane nations from the not-so-insane. A good measure of "sane policy", imo, is the positive capacity towards the people in your country who can't contribute (or contribute very little).

    And btw, I'm not trying to sound bleeding heart or dramatic here.. or using some exceptional example. It's not exceptional at all really. Most of the planet (and history) chooses the insane route. Neglecting the old and the sick is sort of the "norm". I guess this is why I mentioned criminals (or the accused) above too.

  7. #117
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDude View Post
    Some negative rights will be breached without implementing positive ones.

    Social security and welfare, especially for senior citizens and the disabled.
    I don't think you can define the welfare state as protecting 'negative rights'....no one is acting to deprive recipients of life, liberty, or property in the absence of such measures. What I think you are really saying is that negative liberty is insufficient by itself to ensure a good chance at a reasonable quality of life for many people, disadvantaged members of society in particular, which is another issue.

    You think Social Security and welfare assistance should be Constitutional rights rather than policy entitlements? What specific forms of welfare are so necessary or morally imperative that they must be provided regardless of costs to current and future generations? Which programs are sustainable regardless of variability in economic conditions? How would you define such positive rights to prevent jurists from arbitrarily superseding legislatures and imposing requirements effectively at their discretion?

  8. #118
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    As far as I can see your exception for the Louisiana Purchase just throws you into the same bin as all the rest of us.
    I never claimed that supporters of the Constitution are qualitatively different from opponents in the sense that a combination of principle and pragmatism guides their actions. Some people are lean more toward one direction or another, but nobody is qualitatively different.

  9. #119

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    Quote Originally Posted by lowtech redneck View Post
    I don't think you can define the welfare state as protecting 'negative rights'....no one is acting to deprive recipients of life, liberty, or property in the absence of such measures. What I think you are really saying is that negative liberty is insufficient by itself to ensure a good chance at a reasonable quality of life for many people, disadvantaged members of society in particular, which is another issue.

    You think Social Security and welfare assistance should be Constitutional rights rather than policy entitlements? What specific forms of welfare are so necessary or morally imperative that they must be provided regardless of costs to current and future generations? Which programs are sustainable regardless of variability in economic conditions? How would you define such positive rights to prevent jurists from arbitrarily superseding legislatures and imposing requirements effectively at their discretion?
    I dont think that constitutions should guarantee what they cant deliver, I also dont think that they should guarantee what they can deliver but which it is not, properly considered with the natural order of things, for them to deliver. It is about the proper sphere of government and simply because a state can does not mean that it must or even should.

    I thought about this when I read the bill boards which stated the percentages of old people freezing to death each winter and stated that this was why Northern Ireland "needed a bill of rights" a short time ago (never mind that the only people in Northern Ireland really interested in a bill of rights are those who want some guarantees they will be able to carry on sectarian marches or something like that).

    I'm not sure about the role of positive and negative rights coming into the discussion of a constitution, I know why you mention it and I'm not inclined to dismiss your opinion because its a minority one anymore than I'm inclined to believe supportable some of the "awh sure lets just ditch it cause its old fashioned" thinking that I've seen in this thread which I think passes for what the majority think.

    Perhaps discussing the proper sphere of government and postive or negative nature of rights would amount to the same thing but technically I dont believe it is the same thing because I do believe there are plenty of "sins of omission" which effectively cancel out negative rights, the right to starve and sleep under a bridge is not much right and not the same thing as freedom as I understand it.

    If I were to draw up a legal definition of the proper sphere of government it could look very similar to the one someone seeking to preserve and protect negative rights exclusively would draw up, however, my intention would not be to create legal prohibitions of particular tax raising, spending and economic policies, which I know is the intention of right wing negative liberties or rights agenda.

    Just as some right wingers may argue that legal protections for high taxes and welfare spending irrespective of circumstances can not be sanctioned I would also state that legal protections of low taxes and welfare cuts irrespective of circumstances can not be sanctioned either. That's purely and simply corresponding to circumstances, I can think of as many good and well reasoned economic reasons for taxation as opposing it, the only real opposition ones that I can think at this stage are really moral or ideological first principles to be honest and those are frequently confused for circumstances themselves.

    To be honest I dont support legal protections for social spending, it is the case in the UK and the EU provides further protections in some ways too and that has politicised membership of the EU because conservatives want to inflict further devastating cuts upon the population of the UK to please themselves, their financial backers and international capitalists. Although in a certain sense I think too many people got complicit and thought that because these social programmes made sense to them their future was guaranteed. People need to realise there's no such assurity and that they need to fight for and keep fighting for every square inch on which they stand and that they're always threatened.

  10. #120

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    The thing about negative rights is that too often its not about stopping tyranny as privatising it. So long as the government isnt doing it, its fine. Which most of the time amounts to, so long as I'm not paying for it, its fine. Which is lousy.

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