The recent controversies over the concepts “entitlement” and “redistribution” in the US election have been deeply puzzling and disconcerting. Everybody seems to forget that the US is an original signatory to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights which reads, in part:
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
While (as near as I can figure) this doesn’t have the status of a treaty in the US, it was signed with great solemnity in a ceremony wherein Eleanor Roosevelt presented it to the nations of the world assemble in Paris in 1948. Now a certain sort of mind will argue that since it isn’t a treaty the United States is not obligated to it.
In a narrow legalistic sense, I believe that would be true.
But I think that having pretty much started the process in the first place under the aegis of Mrs. Roosevelt, we are at least obligated as a nation which seems to have had some enthusiasm for the document to at least give it a second thought when these matters are discussed. How could our predecessors have made such a commitment a mere two thirds of a century ago and yet have no notice taken of it now?
So I again plaintively ask everyone to reconsider whether full employment is really the right goal for a modern society, where we can relatively easily get machines to do all the degrading and unpleasant jobs and a good deal else.
Why not a modest entitlement? I don’t get it.