The Right to Food

In one of my earlier blog posts, one of the commenters suggested that the poor have the right to food. At the time, I did not argue against him. However, upon further reflection, I have changed my mind, or rather, elucidated an alternative position which I was not prepared to defend before.
Does a poor man have the right to food? A similar question can be asked about healthcare. Does a poor man have the right to healthcare? The answer to both these questions is no. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll deal only with the right to food as the right to healthcare is subject to the same argument.
To be sure, a civilized society can make food a right, if they choose. However, since the food produced is a product of another individual’s labor, a separate individual has no natural claim upon that product of labor. By making food a right the society in question will be forced to force someone to produce that food. What of that individual? Do they not have rights? What if they want to be a dancer, and not work on the farm? We need people on the farm. You must work on the farm. Essentially, the society in question must enslave (or at the very least, reduce to serfdom) the individual to produce the food for the consumption of the beneficiary. It may not be apparent at first, but sooner or later, this forced compassion leads to slavery.
Is it a good thing to feed the poor? Of course it is. But the hungry do not have the right to demand that you feed them without compensation. If you give them that right and enforce such with government, you incentivize not-working. Another way to look at this is by reversing the question. Can you arrest a man for refusing to feed a hungry individual? No. He might be poor himself, or perhaps just stingy. You can’t imprison somebody for being a jerk. Feeding the hungry should come from the heart of an individual one individual at a time. Alms should be freely given, not coercively taken. Anything else will end badly.
And now, I’m sure, everyone will jump down my throat.


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