Rights vs. Goods and the Proper Role of Government

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OH-TAC_iconAccording to the Declaration of Independence, the purpose of government is to protect or “secure” our unalienable rights. These unalienable rights include Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Additional rights specifically protected in the US Constitution include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, a free press, and free assembly; the right to keep and bear arms; freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, security in personal effects, and freedom from warrants issued without probable cause; indictment by a grand jury for any capital or “infamous crime”; guarantee of a speedy, public trial with an impartial jury; and prohibition of double jeopardy.

Nowhere in the Declaration of Independence or in the US Constitution does it say, or even imply, that the purpose of government is to provide goods. 

“Goods” would include tangible things like food, shelter and clothing as well as intangible things like education and healthcare. Goods are products and services that we pay for to satisfy a need or provide utility.

Unfortunately, the federal government is in the business of providing goods – welfare, food stamps, public housing, public education, Medicare, Medicaid and ‘Obamacare’ to name a few – and has no interest in the unprofitable business of protecting and securing rights.


Scott Landreth is the Ohio Chapter Coordinator for the Tenth Amendment Center, a national think tank that serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. Send him e-mail to scott.landreth@tenthamendmentcenter.com.

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