Delegated rights are not surrendered

Recently there’s been some discussion about the delegation of rights to the government, and some have expressed concern about the need to retain rights (especially the right to self-defense) rather than delegate them.

But that is a wrong notion of “delegation.” The meaning of “delegation” is the authorization of someone to act as your agent. Think of delegating a task to an employee. I’ve delegated the task of proofreading the posts, especially mine, to Stephanie Bond. In no way does that mean I have lost the right to proofread!

Likewise, when I delegate to the government my right of self-defense, I don’t lose that right.

Objection: But don’t you lose the right to apprehend and punish those who initiate force against you?

Answer: No, because I never had that right. In “the state of nature,” the state before government, it was moral, given certain circumstances, for a man to forcibly punish another, but it was never a right. You have no right to threaten another individual, but that’s what acting as your own judge, jury, and executor would be doing.

All that “delegating your rights to the government” means is: authorizing a third party (the government) to protect your rights more powerfully than you could and, crucially, to do so in a way that will not be threatening to others, because they will not have to guess at the motivation and reliability of some exponent of “frontier justice.”

You retain the rights that you delegate to the state.