Americans should be spending more time thinking about basic definitions. Our current political climate has politicians trying to associate themselves with words that sound good and their enemies with negative terms. In the process they muck up our language.
The Classical Liberals who founded our nation are likely to say that fundamental (inalienable) rights flow from the creator. As such, only man has rights. Collective entities do not have rights.
NOTE: the tenth amendment of the Constitution reserves "powers" to the state and not rights.
The legal community often speaks of contractual rights. I might sign a lease for an apartment. This lease gives me a contractual right to live in a space for the time of the lease under the conditions of the lease.
The landlord owns the apartment and has property rights to the building. I have a lease which gives me contractual rights. We use the term rights in many different ways.
I like the basic format of this site because it challenges both Conservatives and Progressives. Many conservatives defend the notion that corporations bare the same rights as people. Progressives are willing to march in the street to defend the collective bargaining rights of the Unions.
Progressives attack corporate rights while defending collective bargaining rights. Conservatives do the opposite. In my opinion, both are wrong because only people have rights.
Corporation and Property Rights
Classical liberals realized that man was a spiritual creature living in a material world. As such, classical liberals advocated property rights.
The best way to understand property rights is as "say so." Property rights gives the individual say so over physical goods. I own this web site. I have say so over what goes in the web site.
A corporation is simply a mechanism for shared ownership. The corporation is a property. Individuals own shares of the corporation.
So, when the government dictates the actions of the corporation, the government is, in effect, violating the property rights of the owners of the corporation.
The idea of "coporate rights" is a subtopic under property rights. Any rights of a corporation are derived from the corporation being property owned by individuals.
Collective Bargaining Rights
I actually find collective bargaining rights much more problematic. Collective bargaining gives a small group of people the power to bargain away the rights of people forced into the collective.
Individuals should have the right to bargain as a collective. Twisting the rights of people to bargain as a collective into a "collective bargaining right" creates an artificial conflict between the collective and the individual.
Collectives v. Individuals
People are a social creature that act in groups. The groups we create are temporary creations of man that do not have individual souls or minds.
Attempts to assign groups fundamental rights creates artificial conflicts between the individual and collective. We would do well to recognize that groups have powers not fundamental rights. Doing such would help reduce the conflicts in the world.
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