Natural rights derive from natural moral law, expressed by the universal ethic. They are natural in arising from human nature rather than from any culture of personal belief. The premises from which natural moral law derives are human equality and independence.
A benefit is an act welcomed by the recipient. A harm is an invasion into one's domain, the perceived injury not merely based on the beliefs and values of the recipient. The right to have or do something means that the negation of that act by others is evil by the universal ethic. Freedom means the absence of legal restrictions other than to prohibit and penalize coercive harm to others. "He," "his," and "him," are pronouns that apply to all persons, male and female. Economic land rent is the income from land when put to its most productive use, apart from the normal gains due to the labor and capital goods of the title holder and his agents.
Natural moral law
All acts, and only those acts, which coercively harm others are evil. Self defense is not evil so long as no greater force than necessary to prevent or minimize the harm is used to defend oneself or others. A crime is an act which coercively harms others. A person is a living being which has a functioning mind by which its actions are purposefully chosen, or has a brain which when conscious can so function, and which is not permanently unconscious. Harm applies to all living beings, but the harm done to persons is greater than that to non-persons, and therefore the rights of persons overrides the rights of non-person beings, but any harm beyond that needed to obtain the utility of a living being is evil. Harms include, but are not limited to, murder, theft, fraud, pollution, trespass, threats of harm, and the possession of goods which constitute an actual present danger to the lives of others. Harms exclude, so long as there is no fraud or force inflicted on others, attempted suicide, the use of drugs, gambling, prostitution, nudity, pornography, trade, speech and expressions, peaceful assembly, religious practices, and hypothetical but not actual danger. Human rights and moral rights are synonyms for natural rights. There is no moral authority for government other than to enforce natural moral law.
The natural rights of persons
All persons have the right to be free of the coercive harm of others.
All persons have the right to do anything that does not coercively harm others.
All persons have the right to equal legal treatment for equal acts.
There is no natural right to the wealth or income of other persons, or to the performance of acts by other persons, other than by voluntary agreement or contract.
Natural rights are inalienable, because natural moral law flows from human nature, and human nature is not alterable. A contract to become a slave shall not be enforced by law.
Government shall enact no law restricting or imposing a cost on any action which does not coercively harm others.
There shall be no military or other conscription or draft.
Selection for a jury shall be voluntary, and jurors shall be compensated at one half the median wage of their community. Cases involving prison require the unanimous vote of the jury to convict, while cases involving fines or compensation shall require a 3/4 vote to win the case. A jury shall have no less than 8 persons and no more than 12 persons.
Government shall not provide any arbitrary subsidy to any person or organization other than temporary aid to prevent death or injury for those who fall in distress due to a disaster such as war, earthquake, hurricane, or other such natural event.
Each person has a right to an equal share of the economic rent of land other than that generated by goods and services that increase land rent. Governments may tap this rent with the consent of the governed; otherwise it shall be paid to persons not so consenting and not receiving government benefits.
If government provides public goods and services, it may finance these only from voluntary user fees, levies for pollution and congestion, and the economic rent of land. There shall be no tax on wages, exchanges, goods, value added, and the profits of enterprise other than from economic land rent. Government shall not have the power of asset forfeiture except to confiscate property being used or about to be used to commit coercive harm to others.
The government does not have the right of eminent domain. Property may not be forcibly taken from any owner. The title holder may have to pay higher rent to the community on land which acquires higher value due to its being sought as a route.
Pollution of the environment is harmful to society, and the polluter shall compensate the relevant victims for the social cost. This can take the form of periodic pollution levies.
All persons are presumed innocent until convicted of a crime. Persons accused of a crime shall have the right to a trial by jury. The jury shall be selected randomly from the community in which the accused resides. Any person in prison shall have the right of habeas corpus, to protect themselves and others against unlawful detention.
Persons who are coercively harmed have to right to prosecute and sue the persons accused of committing the harm. Such lawsuits shall be transferrable; the person who claims to have been harmed may sell the lawsuit to another person or organization, which shall have obtained the right to receive the compensation.
Persons who lose a lawsuit shall pay the normal legal costs of the other party.
Penalties and punishments shall be proportionate to the harm caused. It is prohibited to torture a person or remove any body part or impair the functioning of a person's body. Capital punishment is prohibited.
Adults and children
When a woman discovers her pregnancy, she shall make a choice whether to keep or abort the embryo. If she chooses to keep it, but no later than after three months of gestation, she enters into a moral agreement to care for the child until adulthood, and the child acquires the rights of persons. The parents become obligated to provide affection, food, housing, and medical care, but they may transfer their obligation to a willing guardian.
The age of maturity, at which time a person is an adult, shall be established by law and be equal for all persons, but it shall not be more than 18 years of age.
Minors, persons below the age of maturity, may petition a court to become emancipated, with all the rights of an adult. If a judge rejects such status, the minor is entitled to a decision by a jury.
Minors may serve on a jury if approved by both the prosecutor and the defendant.
The right to vote, enter into contracts, and ingest substances, shall apply to all adults.
Any two adults, but not minors, have the right to enter into marriages or domestic unions, which provides the parties with first claims to inheritance, visitation when ill, and decisions on terminating life, if these are not provided by contracts, wills, and other documents.
Human children are persons with the same natural rights as adults. However, the application of their rights can differ from that of adults. All children have the right to receive food and nutrition, housing, medical care, and other essential needs, and to be free from abuse. Minors have the right to own property, to engage in freely chosen labor, and to pursue their interests, but they may be controlled by parents and guardians in order to become educated and ethical adults. Parents and guardians may control the property of a minor subject to their fiduciary duty to maintain its value and usefulness until the child is an adult, at which time the child obtains full rights to the property unless otherwise specified by a trust or will. A contract with a minor is not enforceable.
A person in a coma and judged to be permanently in that status by three physicians may have its life support terminated at the choice of a spouse or nearest relative, unless otherwise provided for by a contract previously entered into by that person.
Animals and wildlife
Wildlife and the habitat that supports it are natural resources owned in common by humanity. It shall be a crime to make any species extinct other than those which cause untreatable disease. The use and extraction of natural resources shall be subject to the payment of its economic rent to the relevant community.
Deliberate cruelty to animals is prohibited. Any harm beyond that needed to obtain the utility of a living being shall be penalized.
The organization of government
Sovereignty resides in each individual person. All governments shall exist by the individual consent of the people. Each adult citizen shall have the right to vote for representatives, and the right shall not be subject to any payment, nor shall the right to vote be denied to those convicted of crimes. The vote shall be by secret ballot on paper. Electronic means of voting are prohibited.
Governmental decisions on collective goods and services shall be decided by the delegated government or by demand revelation. In demand revelation, each person shall state the maximum he is willing to pay, and those who change the outcome by their stated preference shall compensate the community for the social cost caused, the payment going into the common fund. These declarations of stated values may be entered electronically such as via the Internet, and are public information.
The jurisdiction for voting shall be in neighborhood districts with a population not to exceed 2000 persons. There shall be no voting on a larger scale. Each person shall have only one vote in one district. Unless otherwise restricted by contract, persons who wish to may secede from the jurisdiction, but shall then pay their share of the liabilities, and subsequently shall not be protected or benefitted by the government.
A district may be a proprietary community such as an apartment building or a condominium or residential association, but if the board of a contractual community is not selected on the basis of each person having one vote, a separate council shall be elected on that basis, which shall have governing authority.
The neighborhood districts shall form associations with other districts and create a second-level council whose members are elected from the members of the neighborhood councils. These second-level associations shall associate with others to create a third-level association. The highest level association shall constitute the parliament or congress of the country, which will elect one of their members as president or prime minister. The vote of each representative in each council above the neighborhood level will be in proportion to the population of his district. A representative who is elected to a higher-level council shall be replaced by a new selection from the lower-level council that elected him.
Any representative may be recalled at any time by a majority vote of the citizens or by the votes in proportion to population of the higher-level councils. That representative is then removed from any higher-level positions.
The councils of all levels shall select persons to a board of assessors, who shall assess the market land values of all plots of land, including government-held land.
Each jurisdiction may establish courts of law. The judges shall be appointed by the majority vote of the council, and be removable by a vote of two-thirds of the council. Parties in a criminal case or lawsuit may by mutual agreement select a judge, who may be someone other than the judges chosen by the councils.
Amendments to this Constitution may be made by a 3/4 vote of the neighborhood councils, voting in proportion to their populations, but no amendment may be made that abridges or denies the natural rights of persons to do whatever does not coercively harm others.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2007 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.