You Don’t Have a Right to Other People’s Labor

I constantly see the left demand “free” stuff be provided to everyone at the expense of everyone else. Underlying their demands is a serious moral contention worth discussing. In essence, they would coerce a producer into service and compel other people to pay the costs.

This position, however, ignores the premise of their argument: coercing or confiscating labor is, by definition, slavery. Even if you think it’s for the “greater good” you are still imposing a form of slavery. Slave owners of the 19th century easily could have argued (and did) that the production of goods with slavery contributed to a “greater good” – that is, lower prices for consumers via low-cost supply increases.

Not many people, even leftists, would assert that confiscating 100% of one’s labor is a morally justifiable means. Why then do some find it morally justifiable to confiscate 50% or more of one’s labor via taxation or “universal” government programs? The principal remains the same, but feel-good nomenclature inexplicably justifies it.

They have taken a dangerous position to say the least and one that opens the door to any number of state-enforced possibilities.

Any “universal” goods policy sounds like a noble cause and, at face value, certainly appeals to the populists. Rarely is it asked how this will be achieved; let alone who will achieve it.

I have brought this to their attention before, but they deflect any real answers. They say, “what about public school teachers? Police and military? Are we compelling their labor? The same can be true for doctors!”

This is a bait-and-switch argument. For one, we do compel the labor of teachers, whether it be joining unions or accepting state-issued employment contracts. The police and military, which are generally accepted as “traditional forms of government”, serve with the intent of providing a greater good – local or national security. Whether they do that now or not is entirely another debate, but that’s their intent of joining those ranks.

On the other hand, no one becomes a doctor so they can provide “free” healthcare to people. Who would incur debt and time just to give away their accomplishment for “free” or a less-than-desired price? Charitable doctors do exist, but they are not the primary form of medical care. Police follow their path to serve the community, whereas doctors also intend to profit.

In other words, the principal of compelling labor to provide for the general good cannot be extended to every profession, specialist, and producer.

Programs like social security are no different. The left has taken the position that it is morally acceptable to confiscate one’s labor and use it to further what they see as in your best interests. Although a noble cause, there is no way for a bureaucrat to have superior knowledge of your best interests than you.

I would love everyone to save for retirement, but I also realize that they might have their own way of doing it. Moreover, they might have a greater demand for these funds today in order to boost their own capital, such as gain an education or buy a valuable asset. Even if they forego retirement savings for their own enjoyment, which some might deem irresponsible, why should it be my labor that subsidizes their own mistakes?

We must not fall into the trap that everyone can live at everyone’s expense. To do so means giving up what should be a moral conviction that you own your labor. The left tosses this conviction aside because they see natural rights as political agendas and government programs, not as something that exists by virtue of being human.




  1. Great post. The only beneficiaries of liberal policies are politicians who live in mansions, ride in limos and vacation on African safaris. Kennedy Financial gave a shout out to this blog on episode 15.


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