Most of the rights that I am aware of (at least in the USA) are rights that are granted to me free of charge, by virtue of being born here. I don't need to fill any paperwork or pay any fee. I can publish a newspaper without paying anything (other than business expenses of course). I can acquire a gun for no more than the cost of the gun. I don't pay to vote. And so on.

However, I came across one right that is actually very expensive, and that is the right to expatriate. Currently the fee that must be paid to the government is $2350, by very far the most expensive such fee in the world. Without paying this fee (and filling a mountain of paperwork) one cannot relinquish his United States citizenship.

My question now is, are there any other rights that cost money?

  • 3
    How about taxes? (Or how about fees due when you open a business?) IMHO every "proper" right comes with an obligation, although the "currency" need not be money. – Drux Nov 27 '18 at 5:26
  • 1
    You can acquire a gun for the cost of the gun plus state and federal taxes, so do you not consider taxes on things a cost? Also, buying a gun isn't necessarily a right (owning guns certainly is), so what exactly are you considering a right, and what are you considering a cost? – Giter Nov 27 '18 at 12:02
  • @Giter you are correct. Owning a gun is a right, and it is free. You don't need to obtain a license from the government to be allowed to own one. I suppose there can be an argument that taxes should not be applied to gun sales, but it's also reasonable to treat gun purchases as any other purchase. – CodyBugstein Nov 27 '18 at 14:04
  • 3
    @CodyBugstein As far as I'm aware in (at least) many situations you do need to obtain a license from the government to be allowed to own a gun. I don't know the details so it might be a state government rather than the federal government; if you're only interested in costs imposed by the federal government that would be a good thing to add to your question. – Kamil Drakari Nov 27 '18 at 15:49
  • 1
    @KamilDrakari, in the United States, what you are describing would be an unconstitutional law that the Supreme Court must strike down, such as portions of the District of Columbia's 1975 Firearms Control Regulations Act. – elliot svensson Nov 27 '18 at 16:45

For context, I live in Minnesota.

I have the right to carry a concealed weapon, but must pay a small amount of money to get the permit.

Hunting is considered something of a right in this state (it's in the state Constitution), but I would still need to pay for a permit.

Enforcing rights can be really expensive. Back in the 1970s, a magazine wanted to publish an article about approximately how nuclear and thermonuclear bombs work. It cost them a lot of money to get the courts to declare that they had the right.


The right to choice in your own health care is extremely expensive for the US health system. In the US our health care costs would be as low as they are in the UK or Sweden if we allowed the government to decide for us when "enough is enough". Instead, each individual person has the right to make that decision for him- or herself, and so the costs are extremely high.

  • The right to individual choice is not purchased but asserted. Human rights are "inalienable", meaning that a person has those rights by virtue of his or her nature and nothing else. – elliot svensson Nov 27 '18 at 15:39
  • When I bought a car, the dealer offered me for $250 the right to "return" the car within three days in case there's just something that went wrong with the purchase. I didn't take the offer, and so didn't have that right. But this "right" is in the context of my human right to property, which was neither increased nor decreased in the transaction... and which would not have increased had I accepted the offer. – elliot svensson Nov 27 '18 at 15:41
  • Are there any laws by Congress affirming that choosing one's healthcare is a guaranteed right? – CodyBugstein Nov 27 '18 at 16:48
  • @CodyBugstein, I really don't know the answer to this. Sorry. – elliot svensson Nov 27 '18 at 16:51
  • 1
    @DavidThornley: That is almost entirely unrelated to the choice mentioned above. Not that it's unique to the USA; in the UK going outside the NHS is expensive too. But the NHS is how the UK implements the right to healthcare. – MSalters Nov 27 '18 at 22:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.