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No Constitutional Right to Socialism in the U.S.

by

How often do we hear American conservatives poking fun at Cuba and Venezuela for their socialist and interventionist economic systems? Almost all the time, right?

To expose the rank hypocrisy of conservatives, who in actuality love Cuba’s and Venezuela’s economic systems, and also to show how our nation has abandoned its heritage of economic liberty, let’s take a look at the constitutions of Cuba and Venezuela.

Constitution of the Republic of Cuba

Article 47. By means of the Social Security System the state assures adequate protection to every worker who is unable to work because of age, illness or disability….

Article 48. The state protects, by means of social assistance, senior citizens lacking financial resources or anyone to take them in or care for them, and anyone who is unable to work and has no relatives who can help them.

Article 49. The state guarantees the right to protection, safety and hygiene on the job by means of the adoption of adequate measures for the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases.…

Article 50. Everyone has the right to health protection and care. The state guarantees this right; by providing free medical and hospital care by means of the installations of the rural medical service network, polyclinics, hospitals, preventative and specialized treatment centers; by providing free dental care; by promoting the health publicity campaigns, health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccinations and other measures to prevent the outbreak of disease….

ARTICLE 51. Everyone has the right to education. This right is guaranteed by the free and widespread system of schools, semi-boarding and boarding schools and scholarships of all kinds and at all levels of education and because of the fact that all educational material is provided free of charge, which gives all children and young people, regardless of their family’s economic position, the opportunity to study in keeping with their ability, social demands and the needs of socioeconomic development.

 Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Article 80: The State shall guarantee senior citizens the full exercise of their rights andguarantees. The State, with the joint participation of families and society, is obligated to respect their human dignity, autonomy and to guarantee them full care and social security benefits to improve and guarantee their quality of life. Pension and retirement benefits granted through the social security system shall not be less than the urban minimum salary….

Article 82: Every person has the right to adequate, safe and comfortable, hygienic housing, with appropriate essential basic services, including a habitat such as to humanize family, neighborhood and community relations….

Article 83: Health is a fundamental social right and the responsibility of the State, which shall guarantee it as part of the right to life….

Article 84: In order to guarantee the right to health, the State creates, exercises guidance over and administers a national public health system that crosses sector boundaries, and is decentralized and participatory in nature, integrated with the social security system and governed by the principles of gratuity, universality, completeness, fairness, social integration and solidarity….

Article 85: Financing of the public health system is the responsibility of the State, which shall integrate the revenue resources, mandatory Social Security contributions and any other sources of financing provided for by law….

Article 90: Working hours shall not exceed eight hours per day or 44 hours per week. Where permitted by law, night work shall not exceed seven hours per day or 35 hours per week. No employer shall have the right to require employees to work overtime….

Article 91: Every worker has the right to a salary sufficient to enable him or her to live with dignity and cover basic material, social and intellectual needs for himself or herself and his or her family….

Article 102: Education is a human right and a fundamental social duty; it is democratic, free of charge and obligatory. The State assumes responsibility for it as an irrevocable function of the greatest interest, at all levels and in all modes, as an instrument of scientific, humanistic and technical knowledge at the service of society.…

Ask yourself: How many of those Cuban and Venezuelan constitutional “rights” do American conservatives disagree with?

Answer: None! Not one single one. American conservatives believe in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, public schooling, minimum-wage laws, 40-hour work weeks, labor regulations, and, well, the entire welfare-state, managed-economy way of life that characterizes such socialist countries as Cuba and Venezuela.

The harsh reality is that American conservatives fully and completely embrace the Cuban and Venezuelan constitutional “rights” to socialism and interventionism for the citizenry even as they poke fun at the economic systems of both countries.

Take a look at the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You’ll notice something significant. Not one single one of those Cuban and Venezuelan “rights” are enumerated in those documents. Not Social Security. Not Medicare or Medicaid. Not public schooling. Not public housing. Not minimum-wage laws, maximum-hours guarantees for workers, or any other type of labor legislation.

Neither socialism nor interventionism is provided for or guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

So, what are these socialist and interventionist programs, which are guaranteed in the Cuban and Venezuelan constitutions, doing here in the United States, a country where schoolchildren are inculcated with the notion that America’s economic system is based on “freedom and free enterprise”?

Good question. Next time you hear a conservative poking fun at Cuba and Venezuela, ask him what his answer is. See if he can explain his hypocrisy and also whether he accepts personal responsibility for this debacle.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.