The worrying ‘hyper-inflation’ of human rights

11 September 2013

There is a term which ought to be in better use – ‘human rights inflation’. This is the means by which the currency of ‘human rights’ – which used to mean things like ‘the right to life’ – becomes, thanks to the addition of endless spurious additional demands, severely undermined.

The latest example of this trend has come to light this morning thanks to a Brazilian far-leftist who claims to be working as a rapporteur for the United Nations. As listeners to the Today programme will know (about 2 hours 37 minutes in here) according to Raquel Rolnik the latest inalienable human right is apparently the ‘right to a spare bedroom.’

Claim your gift

Anybody who has not heard the claims of this absurd figure railing against the UK government’s alleged ‘bedroom tax’ really ought to follow the link and experience the taste. This is a woman capable of making statements so ridiculous, presumptuous and idiotic that she manages to make Grant Shapps (who comes onto the programme after her) appear statesmanlike.

Of course it is easy to simply laugh away such people as Ms Rolnik. Except that what she and the increasingly large number of people who speak the same language of ‘rights’ are doing is undermining the very basis of the post-war ‘human rights’ settlement. Thanks to their translation of any and all grievances and demands into the language of ‘rights’, they are causing an inflation of the whole concept.  Indeed you could easily claim that ‘human rights’ are now suffering a kind of hyper-inflation. While the right to life is being trampled upon in significant ways all over the world, people like Ms Rolnik manage to render increasingly meaningless a currency which is arguably more needed than ever. The result is that at some point there will be a collapse of the whole system. After all, who is to say? If living in a one-bedroom flat is now to suffer a fundamental human-rights abuse, how to get remotely exercised about the gassing of children or the desolation of whole nations?

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • Petra Thompson

    Meanwhile, the OIC rejected the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1990, putting in its place the system of apartheid known as sharia law, where women and non-muslims are 2nd and 3rd class citizens, where democracy is abolished, where gays will be exterminated.

    And not one of the “human rights” groups has bothered to speak of this in the last 30 years.

  • global city

    ‘Human Rights’ is, of course, merely a slogan, in the old Trotskyist meaning, for radicals to do just what Murray outlines.

    The irony is that as soon as these folk get into positions of real power the first thing to be jettisoned are the human rights we would all recognise as valid.

  • Fencesitter

    Well said.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Raquel Rolnik is the thin end of the UN’s attempt at grabbing for world governance wedge, which makes the current EUSSR federal power grab look benign, and must be resisted vigorously…

    • george

      But won’t be, since most Brits can’t bring themselves to care or understand.

  • James Strong

    This is the idea of ‘rights’ as entitlements.
    You could write an article, or seies of articles, on negative rights. I can’t put enough of it in a comment on a post.
    That is an idea that should be put into the public consciouseness much more because we need a counter to the spreading concept of ‘human entitlements’.

  • george

    Yep, it’s been going on for a long time now.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    I suppose if one prizes life in a currency of ways formally characteristic of some ancient sporting/fighting culture, the common-sense use of human rights is going to appear very low down the pecking order.. What’s so ridiculous about going out and listening to ordinary people?

  • Bonkim

    She appeared to be acting in Panto. Don’t take her seriously.

  • Curnonsky

    Naturally the Left wants to substitute the sort of “rights” they hold dear – typically those found in any well-run prison – for those that underpin the West such as freedom of expression, religion, conscience, etc. All the easier to pack us off to re-education camps, in the interest of upholding our “rights”, of course.

  • C. Gee

    The left, as usual, has inverted meaning. “Rights” means “privileges.”

  • Tom M

    Human Rights Inflation? Can I add Health and Safety Inflation to the list?

  • Baron

    As if it wasn’t enough to have Brussels telling us what we can and cannot do. Arghhh.

  • monkey for sale

    The truth of the matter is that people like Raquel Rolnik could be, and should be, holding corrupt countries in Africa to account for the appalling accommodation that the peoples of that continent’s countries have to live in.
    But that would mean having to tell uncomfortable truths to the kind of people who would call her a racist before running her out of town.

    She is typical of the women who turn a blind eye to the barbarity of Islam , but jump up and down when someone proposes a ban on face coverings for the public good.

    She’s a fraud.Give her a civilised country and she’ll take a easy pop. Give her ignorance, filth and disease and she’d run a mile .

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      That would also mean she would have to hold her home country Brazil to account for its favelas and other housing delights.Not going to happen is it. Ritzy hotels in London are much more comfortable places to spout forth from than the often dodgy accommodation on much of the Godfrey Bloom continent. She’d run a mile as you rightly say .

      • monkey for sale

        Countries, ideologies (Islam) and different races (Africans) are judged by differing standards.

        Prime example – Islamofascist who wants to kill indiscriminately is allowed to stay in the UK because sending him home would breach his human rights. While little old ladies born in America/Australia who’ve lived here for most of their lives are told to sling their hook.
        Foreigners with their many 5 children have a right to be housed in the UK while native Britons wait their turn living in B&B’s .

        When published next spring her report will resemble a Brazilian bikini wax – nothing there.

        • Petra Thompson

          It’s even got a name. For a decade or more it’s been called “the racism of low expectations”. Leftists actually believe that only white westerners can be held to high moral standards (and Israelis). They believe any country where people don’t have white skin has to have a lower set of standards by which they are judged.

          • monkey for sale


            Couldn’t agree more.

    • Kate HA

      “Rolnik, a former urban planning minister in Brazil, said of the measure,
      which reduces housing benefit by 14% for those deemed to have one
      “spare room” and by 25% for those with two or more, “I was very shocked
      to hear how people really feel abused in their human rights by this
      decision and why – being so vulnerable – they should pay for the cost of
      the economic downturn, which was brought about by the financial crisis.
      People in testimonies were crying, saying ‘I have nowhere to go’, ‘I
      will commit suicide’.”

      Compare and constrast

  • zanzamander

    What Raquel Rolnik epitomises perfectly is the shameless “entitlement culture” that pervades our Western society. People now believe that the government owes them a living – a comfortable one at that, resplendent with all the mod cons befitting a minor royal. Even a recent arrival from Somalia (for instance) fully expects to be housed by the society, in which they have contributed precisely zero, in a five bedroomed house – detached if you please.

    It is mugs like us who has to pay for it all.

    • greggf

      True zanza, but not equally everywhere in the West.
      I haven’t heard Ms Rolnik but reports indicate she has chosen the easiest target in the West to further her polemic.
      Most countries in Europe have actuarial contributions systems and for example, currently, France is wrestling with the increase in the term of said contributions from 41.5 to 43.5 years before a full pension may be received.
      Whereas in Britain your Somali, if of retirement age would receive a state pension in full as well as the other largesse you refer to.

      • Tom M

        You are quite correct about France and when I compare the two systems I conclude that some thought went into the French Social Security system (as well as their Health system) whereas in the UK the Socialist government that implemented the welfare system in the UK (same month and year as in France) just turned both barrels of the Treasury onto the problem and hosed it with money, until now that is when they are having to borrow money.
        Further I would bet that in every mosque and souk between Morocco and Bangladesh they know exactly the benefits available in the UK and how to claim them.

        • greggf

          Initially Tom, the Social Insurance system set up after the Beveridge report by the Atlee government of 1945 was based on sound insurance principles – you paid a premium and got covered for welfare.
          Over the years for various reasons, but probably to satisfy the mantras you quote, the need for contributions effectively disappeared as various anodyne payments used to top up totals received, such as income support, housing benefit tax credits, working tax credits, pension credit etc., were added, seemingly to avoid one claimant getting more than another because of his/her thrift!
          One of the arguments justifying these is the cost of processing and evaluating claims but I’ve never heard Insurance Companies dispensing of the need to pay premiums for, say, car insurance because of the cost of processing and evaluating claims……

          The British welfare system has become feckless, arbitrary and perverse. It can only get worse because too many voters, probably a quorum, have some claim or entitlement which they will vote to keep.

          • Tom M

            Oh so true, unfortunately.

            “the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury

            (disputed) quote: Alexander Fraser Tytler.

    • Mist Gibbs

      That’s true zanza, people these days think that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide them a comfortable life and decent home. But they are not doing their part in improving their standard of living.

      android apps

Can't find your Web ID? Click here