"We grant to all persons the unrestricted power to defend themselves, so that it is proper to subject anyone, whether a private person or a soldier, who trespasses upon fields at night in search of plunder, or lays by busy roads plotting to assault passers-by, to immediate punishment in accordance with the authority granted to all."
-- The Code of Justinianus 3.27.1, 529 A.D.
"All men have equal rights to liberty, to their property, and to the protection of the laws. "
-- Voltaire (1694-1778) French Philosopher
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. "
-- The Declaration of Independence of the United States 1776
"Whereas it hath been found by experience that limitations upon the prices of commodities are not only ineffectual for the purpose proposed, but likewise productive of very evil consequences--resolved, that it be recommended to the several states to repeal or suspend all laws limiting, regulating or restraining the Price of any Article."
-- The Continental Congress of the United States, June 4, 1778
"Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."
-- Frederique Bastiat (1801 - 1850) French economist and member of the French assembly
-- The Principles of the Free Market
Individual rights stand as a foundation for any free market economy. Economies are built from individuals up, not from the government down. The American founding fathers understood that rights are those things we are endowed with by default and that should not be taken away; not things that others, or the state, must provide. Individual rights should never be confused with obligations on others or society. There can never be a "right" to housing or a job, because this necessarily creates an obligation on others to provide those things, possibly against their will or interests. A free market economy is free from coercion. We are obligated to respect the rights of others and are only bound by contracts we enter voluntarily.