Modern Debates on Rights
Decades later, many of the consequences (both intended and unintended) of the Great Society era continue to be debated. More fundamental to the debate on those specific issues is a debate about the nature of rights themselves. Do they come from God and/or nature, or do they come from government?
On one side of these debates are those people who believe that rights come from God and/or nature. Because inalienable rights are natural rights, we are all born with them. Nobody - government or otherwise - has to provide us with anything for us to have those rights. We need government though, to ensure our security in these rights which would be vulnerable to attack from others in a “state of nature.” We are born with the capacity and the right to believe, to speak, to develop and exercise our consciences. Those on this side of the debate would likely support laws that limit government to protecting the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Though they support state and local governments providing education, they would be skeptical of federal involvement in public schools. And though they might favor state-based welfare programs and be personally charitable, they would not support the national government’s role in redistributing wealth. They might support a federal safety net for the poor, but not middle-class entitlements.