The phrase "human rights" or "basic human rights" has got to be one of the most used political arguments of today. Think of the phrases "healthcare is a basic human right" or "education is a human right". Take a few minutes and think about what makes something fall into the category of being a human right.
There are two philosophies of human rights, first is the political view. The political view of human rights is exactly what you might think it is, a human right is anything the government says it is. Giving the government the power to define the existence of a human right is obviously the more liberal viewpoint. I have to wonder what happens when the government decides to start curtailing these defined "human rights".
The other philosophy, which I believe to be more conservative, is that we are endowed with certain rights simply because we are human. Depending on religious beliefs, some of us believe we are endowed by our creator. We are endowed with these rights equally regardless of our gender, race, or whatever method you wish to subdivide the human race. These human rights are also independent of time. We are endowed with these human rights just as our ancestors were hundreds or even thousands of years ago. These human rights don't flutter in the winds of politics.
Because we are all endowed with these rights equally, there is also a duty that comes with them. The duty is that we can't infringe on the human rights of others. In drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called these rights "unalienable" and enumerated a few of them as being "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". It's easy to see how exercising our right of liberty (doing whatever we want) and our right of pursuing happiness could infringe on these human rights of others. Basically, we can exercise these human rights as much as we want up to the point our actions start to impact others.
This view of human rights goes back to the late seventeenth century and the writings of a philosopher named John Locke. Locke referred to these human rights as "natural rights" since we were "naturally" endowed with them as humans. In addition, again in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson mentioned "Natural Laws" when saying it was time for the United States to take a "separate but equal station" in the world. It's clear to me Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution intended on adhering to John Locke's theory of human rights.
Now think back to the statements of healthcare and education being a human right or basic human right and remember we can't use our human rights to infringe on the human rights of others. When we are receiving medical care we could personally need the assistance of a number of people including a doctors, nurses, and technicians of various disciplines. Similarly, when looking to get a formal education someone has to be there to teach us. We are taking up the time of those having to serve to our "human rights" of healthcare or education. We are violating their human rights while ours are being fulfilled. No matter how much the medical professionals or teachers are dedicated, there will be days when they would rather have the "liberty" to be doing something else and possible that day is the same day you are trying to fulfill your supposed "human right". Healthcare, education, and any other "right" that necessitates someone else to assist it's fulfillment is not a "human right". Whether we have a "moral right" to healthcare or education is a different conversation but they are not human rights.
When we start to assign items such as healthcare and education as human rights we tend to lessen the importance of true human rights, namely life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Free healthcare and education infringes on the pursuit of happiness of others that have to help pay for the healthcare and education of others by taking money these people would normally use to pursue happiness. By the way, I've been thinking about this post a couple of weeks and am trying to come up with a fourth human right without success. You may think the personal freedom of speech or freedom of religion, but wouldn't these fall under the pursuit of happiness? Anyway, if you can come up with a fourth human right, please add it in a comment.