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The Difference Between Negative and Positive Rights

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the difference between negative rights and positive rights


This is a great way to explain to someone their rights. We all know we have a right to life and liberty but some people think they have rights to more than that. They think they have a right to others’ lives and liberty. They think that they have a right to their incomes, through taxation, or their liberty, through lawmaking. They don’t. As this graphic explains, rights are negative claims only. Your right to life and liberty does not affect others and is a negative right.

Demanding government take someone else’s property or services is not a right because it is a positive claim. A positive claim on someone else’s income, property, or freedom, isn’t a right at all. It’s just a demand; the same you would hear from a robber, but it’s often demanded using the government as a proxy. A ‘right to government provided healthcare’ isn’t really a right at all, it’s a demand. That’s because it’s a claim on someone else’s services that will be paid for with government theft.

The people most notorious for making those demands, and claiming that they’re rights, are the Progressives. The conservatives do it too, but not to the same degree. Progressives keep redefining what is and isn’t a right every election cycle in order to gain more power. They think that a minimum wage is a right, healthcare is a right, student loan forgiveness is a right, but none of those are.

They progressives want the government to have the power over people’s lives so the government can give them their demands. The more rights they tell people they have, the more government is needed to enforce those demands. That bigger government means less legitimate rights for the rest of us. Our right to life and liberty is diminished every time the government demands something new from us.

So the next time someone needs an explanation of what is a legitimate right, use this graphic and explanation. Teach them the difference between negative rights and positive claims. There is an enormous contrast between legitimate rights and demands. This is something a lot more people need to know.

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