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Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of February 7, 2011

Readers write in with praise for differing views of 'rights' defined by the Constitution and President Obama's pragmatism.

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Consent to different views

Thank you for printing the contrasting pair of viewpoints in the Jan. 17 issue: "Do you have a 'right' to a job, home, or health care?" by Mark W. Hendrickson, and "Barrier to better health care: GOP definition of freedom" by Anthony L. Schlaff.

This pair constitutes a good example of how vital to democracy a wide range of political viewpoints is. Through the interplay of contrasting views, sharp edges can be smoothed and policies can be crafted that are the best compromise fair-minded citizens can come up with.

Mr. Hendrickson is correct about the meaning of "rights." Society may legitimately debate whether to denote housing, health care, etc., as "entitlements," but they can't accurately be called rights.

Mr. Schlaff is also correct to point out that citizens often need to collectively agree to surrender an absolute right to achieve a common good, as he illustrates with the example of traffic lights.

In our more-than-200-year-old experiment in government deriving its "just Powers from the Consent of the Governed," let's give our consent to listening respectfully and thoughtfully to differing viewpoints and working together for the best balance between individual rights and the common good.



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