One of our state representatives has proposed a new amendment to the Constitution of Maine. From LD 783:
Constitution, Art. I, §25 is enacted to read:
Section 25. Right to food. Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to
food and to acquire food for that individual's own nourishment and sustenance by
hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase
from sources of that individual's own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible
for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed
I find this amendment problematic as written. No one has a right to food, unless they have procured it honestly themselves. No one has a right to never be hungry. They have a natural right to grow food, to buy it, to barter it, but unless the laws of nature have changed, and there will never be a bad growing season, there will never be a teamsters strike, there will never be a famine, in other words unless there will never be circumstances that limit the food supply, then there is no right to food any more than there is a right to health. We have a right to seek after these things without being infringed upon, but as soon as you say someone has a right to food, you're saying they have a right to take from someone whom they perceive has more than they. It's a complete abrogation of property rights, and without property rights, there are no rights at all.
The amendment is not a recognition of an unalienable (i.e. God-given) right; it actually would establish a right that didn't exist before. It's another entitlement. Human nature being what it is, there will always be those who would say, "I have a right to food, therefore give me yours because you have more than I do." It will make no difference that you worked your butt off to grow it or otherwise obtain it, it will be theirs, and the amendment will lend credence to their demands. Are all people like that? Definitely not, and I think farmers, particularly small farmers, are the least likely to think like that. However, unless you have your eyes shut tight, you cannot help but see the results of the entitlement society we now live in. All those entitlements exist because government has the power to take from some and give to another. This is not what our country was founded on, but sadly what it has become.
Power comes from the people, but the people cannot rightfully give to the government what they do not have. Does a person have a right to someone else’s property, including food? Does a person have a right to demand from their neighbor food, clothing, housing, or any of a number of other needs? No. Therefore, they cannot rightfully give that power to government. The voice of the people is not always righteous. The voice of government is always harsh because government rules by force. As attributed to George Washington, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action. ”
I would like to see the first clause struck so that the amendment reads “Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to acquire food for that individual's own nourishment and sustenance by hunting, gathering, foraging, farming, fishing or gardening or by barter, trade or purchase from sources of that individual's own choosing, and every individual is fully responsible for the exercise of this right, which may not be infringed.”
One can have the right to seek food without having the right to food itself, because the first is about earning it, and the second is about having it without a lick of work.
In a compassionate society, and by God’s command, we must help others, but it must always be voluntary. I often have extra produce from my garden, and I know people who need it. I don’t sell it to them; I give it to them, and we are both satisfied. However, if someone came to my garden and demanded my produce, I’d send them packing. There is a big difference.