I wrote this a little over a year ago as a letter to the editor in response to a letter celebrating the UN and its four freedoms. I never mailed it but stumbled acrossed it and decided to post it as I wrote it, the only change being that I "x"ed out my name to assure our "anonymity".The Four Freedoms
by xxx xxxxxxx
When the United Nations was founded, its charter had a basic statement of Human Rights. It reduced the idea of human rights to four basic rights which the charter stated were the basic rights of every human.
These rights were enumerated as
1. Freedom of the Press
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom from want.
4. Freedom from fear.
Now the first two I have no problems with in either an ideal or practical sense, but the last two I do have problems with. I agree with them in an ideal sense but in a practical sense, there is nothing the government can really do about these.
Any government that is willing to do so can garauntee the first two, but not the third and fourth.Freedom From Fear
. Look at the recent Tsunami in Indonesia. There was a lot of terror when that hit and no human government could do a thing about it. The point is that there are terrifying things that are totally beyond the control of any government. The government promising freedom from fear is like promising freedom from disease; we can reduce the threat as far as humanly possible, but we can never eliminate it, thus we will never be free of it.Freedom from Want
. Suppose we have a world wide crop failure due to God knows what. The government cannot supply what is not there to supply, and thus cannot fulfill this freedom either.
Some things are beyond the control of government and the government should make no pomises regarding these. It may say they will do their best but they can promise nothing.
I would propose that these two rights be removed and replaced with similar but practical rights that a government can garauntee,.I would replace Freedom from Fear with Freedom to Protect Yourself
. This would garauntee that each person, nation, and community would have the right to individually and/or collectively defend their lives, property, families, homes and livelihood. The exception of course would be that you would have to yield to legitimate law and law enforcement but most people would have no problems with reasonable law and law enforcement. Also the self-defense must be proportionate to the threat; you could not kill a man for merely being on your property without permission. However, a general right to defend yourself and yours is a human right.
Unlike freedom from fear, the government can recognize and garauntee this right.I would also replace Freedom from Want with Freedom to Enjoy the Fruit of Your Labor and/or Investments.
If you made it than you have the right to it. If you invested in it, then you have the right to the return. When people work collectively on something then they all have a right to a fair share of the fruit. When one invests and another labors, both have the right to share in the fruit. If there is no fruit to share, then that is how it is. The government cannot garauntee a harvest but it can garauntee that those who own the farm, and those who worked it, both get their share. These people in turn have the right to do as they see fit with their share, whether it be spent on self, or given to charity or whatever. What this means is that no person, organization, state, or nation, has any right to simply seize your property or take the lion's share of your labor. This does not oppose reasonable taxes but does oppose confiscatory or excessive taxes.
Again, unlike Freedom from want, the right to the fruit of your activities can be garaunteed.
So the Four Freedoms would change a little bit to four basic Human rights
1. Freedom of the Press: The Right to Tell the Truth and State Honestly held oppinions.
2. Freedom of Religion: The Right to hold beliefs and to worship, celebrate and proclaim your beliefs as you
3. The Right to Defend Yourself
4. The Right to the Fruit of Your Labor and/or Investments.
Anyone who has all four of these freedoms, can truly be called politically free. There may be legitimate disagreements on the scope of these ideas in various situations, but the core ideas of these four rights are the heart of human rights.
Tyrants, of course, will oppose these two rights. A right to defend yourself may allow the people to face and defeat them while the right to the fruit of your activities would mean they cannot simply take it from you. Of course they rarely honor the first two rights anyway.