Confusing “Rights” and Wrongs

First Published: 2006-03-31

The Tribune Business page reports that the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) applauds the Consumer Protection Bill causing us to wonder whether this organization understands the nature and importance of free enterprise, the rule of law, and liberty; that human rights are centered on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny.

By endorsing the Consumer Protection legislation the GBHRA appears not to understand its legitimate purpose when it approves laws that deprive some individuals of "rights" whilst obliging others to fulfill said "rights" – which is the clear purpose of the Consumer Protection Bill.

The proposed legislation is not a consequence of demand from consumers, rather it is drummed up hype with a message that "somebody is out to get you" and consumers must be protected from the "bad guys" – i.e. business.

Such is the agenda for politicians as "entrepreneurs" in the Legislation Business; experts at creating economic and social crises or the perception of crises requiring their "services" to control and punish alleged bad behaviour of individuals in the market place. Of course, politicians never admit that they are the source of the problems. They usually blame corporations in particular, or capitalism in general. Hence, we witness a constant recitation of "crises" manufactured by the state and blamed on capitalism.

In this instance the human rights gang single out banks and insurance companies as "rapacious" institutions against which the consumer has no recourse. The economic consequence of the legislation will be to increase already high costs for all Bahamian businesses. Some will find recourse in consolidation with other marginal suppliers, the effect of which is to reduce the number of providers, and thereby competition.

While the "rights" guys and the politicians are lauding each other for their "protectionist" ideologies, the Bahamian people are pawns in a socialist experiment already a proven failure.

If rights and freedom mean anything, they must include leaving people "free" to make their own decisions about what to buy or sell in the market place. The role of the state is to protect liberty and property, not what is bought and sold, or how, or at what price.

Lord Acton took liberty a step further when he said, "The securing of liberty is the highest political end. By Liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his duty against the influence of authority and custom and opinion".

It is not our intention to diminish the importance of organizations like the GBHRA. However, as in this instance, when they align themselves with policy that weakens the foundations of liberty, the freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny, they lose their legitimacy.

Many Bahamians are likely to be fooled into believing the Bill protects them. Truthfully it is just more copycat legislation and the means whereby "rapacious" lawyers, waiting in the wings for the $400.00 hourly fees, can maintain themselves in a style to which they have become accustomed. Will they be held liable and prosecuted for "bad advice"?

The Nassau Institute

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