There’s been a rash of bills lately in the Missouri state legislature that have given me pause. First was a bill to allow home brewers to transport their beer away from home. The second is a proposal for a state constitutional amendment to specify that parents have a right to raise and educate their own children how they choose. The latest one I’ve read about is another constitutional amendment proposal to specify the right of farmers to employ modern farming practices.
These all seem like good ideas. What homebrewer doesn’t want to be able to take his beer to a party or share a few bottles with a friend? And what parent doesn’t want to be assured of his or her right to bring up their children without outside interference? I’m not a farmer, but if I were, it would be good to know that I was allowed to use whatever methods I thought would give me the best yields, right?
But here’s the problem: we already have these rights! They are natural rights to life, liberty, and property. While I understand the legislature’s intent in proposing these measures, by being so specific, the implication is that these rights are granted to us by the state. Rights or privileges granted by the state can be revoked at the whim of whoever is in power.
The bottom line for me is that I am entitled to use and dispose of my property however I like, so long as I am not hurting or defrauding someone else. To tell me I now have the state’s permission to bring a six-pack of beer that I made with ingredients that I bought is absurd. Similarly, if I own a piece of farmland, I shouldn’t need permission from the state or anyone else to grow what I want how I want. My right to life and liberty means that my children are my responsibility to raise and educate–to allow me to raise them in accordance with my family’s beliefs and desires makes no sense whatsoever.