Monday, August 31, 2009

The Rights of Man

I am sure that you know there are 2 document that our country were founded upon: The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Constitution has lately become little more than toilet paper for the current administration but that is a topic for another post.

It is the latter document that I would like to talk about. A specific piece about it in fact.

The Declaration of Independence states that there are 3 rights that men have. These rights are given to us by God. Not by the government. By God.

These rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

By stating that these rights were given to us by God and no by any man or institution, it states for fact that nobody has the right to take them away from us. Not another person. Not a government institution. Nobody.

I would like to discuss each of these rights in a little bit further detail, one by one.

Life.

This one is a pretty simple one. Everyone knows that we have the right to live. No man has the right to take away the right for another man to live.

However, does the government have the right to take a life?

One can argue that the government has no right to take another person's life and lead that conversation into a debate on the death penalty.

The law states that, in general, if you take a person's life, that is if you murder someone, you are to be sentenced to death. So if you, knowing that this is the law, take another person's life, does the government have the right to take yours? Yes. If you are looking at it from the point of view of the law.

However, the question that comes up is, should this be the law. Should the government be allowed to take the life of a murder?

To be honest, this is a really touchy subject and I am not willing to take that one on in full force today.

For now, I believe that because it is the law, a person should deal with the consequences of their actions.

Liberty.

What is liberty? Is it just freedom?

It is freedom. But it is a specific freedom.

Liberty, literally defined, is the freedom to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one's own choosing.

So when you think of liberty and how it applies in the Declaration of Independence, or more importantly how it applies to you and I, the government has no right to take away a person's right to act, believe or express themselves as they see fit. Any government that does, is taking away a person's liberty and in my opinion, a government that is not fit to govern.

This is where the Bill of Rights comes into play. The government has no right to restrict freedom of speech or freedom of the press, or freedom of religion, etc..

The Bill of Rights is all about Liberty. You should read it sometime if you haven't.

The Pursuit of Happiness.

This is where things are going to get personal. There is a lot of debate over this one and its meaning.

I think if we break this phrase down to its two main words, we can explain it a little better.

First word: Happiness (I am doing this out of order on purpose)

What exactly is happiness? Does wealth equal happiness? Don't they say money can't buy happiness?

As I look around, I see rich people that are happen. But I also see rich people that are not happy.
I also see poor people that are happy. But of course there are poor people that are unhappy.

I don't think that happiness equals wealth or financial success. I think happiness is a state of mind.

I think that when the Declaration of Independence was written, Jefferson was meaning something more along the lines of contentment.

But by adding that other word to the phrase, this is where the idea of acquiring wealth comes up as meaning the same as happiness.

Although I am not 100% that happiness and wealth go hand in hand, I will address this idea of the pursuit of wealth.

The statement that is made is that a person has the right to the PURSUIT of happiness and that this right can not be taken away by another person or the government.

It does not say that the government is responsible for providing the happiness itself. Only that it is responsible for protecting the right of its pursuit and to remove the barriers from that pursuit.
In other words, it is the responsibility of the government to provide the means in which a person can pursue happiness, but not to provide the happiness itself.

Entitlement programs generally do little more than provide the happiness in most cases. They do nothing to assist a person along with any sort of pursuit of happiness. And in most cases, the person receiving the entitlement is given no incentive to improve their situation. They have the money. Why bother doing something that would take that money away from them? Why bother improve their station in life?

There are of course exceptions to this rule such as those that are physically unable to go out and work. But that is something we can discuss at another time because that is a different matter entirely.

I think my point has been made fairly clear enough on the pursuit of happiness.

In a later post, I think I might touch on the ways I think the government can, does and should provide for the pursuit of happiness without providing entitlements.

A lot of the problems with our country I believe began a long time ago but really started a little over a half a century ago when the administration got the idea that our citizens are entitled to certain things without having to work for them. Their ideas have steadily turned our country into a welfare state.

It seems as if the goal of our government is to spend less time performing their actual Constitutionally required duties and to spend more time coddling those that don't want to do anything for themselves.

The government of our country is becoming nothing more than a huge non-profit charity organization.

In fact, in my opinion, I think that the reason that there are less charitable organizations that provide assistance for the poor and hungry operating today is because of the government "takeover" of charity.

The government should not, should not have ever been, nor should it ever be, a replacement for non-profit charitable organizations. Ever.

It is the duty of the government to respect and protect the rights of its citizens. The rights of life, by protecting our borders and providing for a strong national defense; liberty, by removing any restrictions of its citizens freedoms that are ascribed in the Bill of Rights; and the pursuit of happiness, by removing barrier on the path of bettering one's self.

Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness. These are the most basic human rights of man given by God and no government entity ever has the right to take these rights away from us.

4 comments:

  1. Good post steve... not only is the government "not-for-profit" but even worse it is a "for loss" operation at our expense.
    The government loses money on each and every undertaking and believes it can make it up with volume.

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  2. You have got that right.

    Government needs to stay out of the business of trying to run itself like a business.

    The more they spend, the more we lose.

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  3. A few things here…

    Steve said: “They do nothing to assist a person along with any sort of pursuit of happiness. And in most cases, the person receiving the entitlement is given no incentive to improve their situation. They have the money. Why bother doing something that would take that money away from them? Why bother improve their station in life?”

    I disagree. For some this may be the case but I think for most it is a humiliating prospect going and asking the government for help to get by and those receiving the help would love nothing more than to improve their station in life and get off the assistance. Again there are some that are just bums but I do not think that they are the majority. I also think rhetoric of this type over simplifies the debate and takes away the human aspect of it. It’s easy to talk in generalities without thinking about the individuals involved.

    Steve said: “A lot of the problems with our country I believe began a long time ago but really started a little over a half a century ago when the administration got the idea that our citizens are entitled to certain things without having to work for them. Their ideas have steadily turned our country into a welfare state.”

    What exactly are you referring to here? Again this is a great talking point but what do you actually mean? What do people think that they are entitled to? Specifically.

    Steve said: “The statement that is made is that a person has the right to the PURSUIT of happiness and that this right can not be taken away by another person or the government. It does not say that the government is responsible for providing the happiness itself. Only that it is responsible for protecting the right of its pursuit and to remove the barriers from that pursuit. In other words, it is the responsibility of the government to provide the means in which a person can pursue happiness, but not to provide the happiness itself.”

    I agree, but I don’t see how programs like food stamps or WIC are the government’s way of trying to “provide the happiness itself.”


    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

    I love this phrase; it speaks to the core of what is America. Jefferson actually borrowed the phrase from John Locke. Locke’s version was “life, liberty, and property.” Jefferson’s version though is not only more inspiring, it is the natural evolution of Locke’s original idea.

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  4. I agree. It is a humiliating experience. I'm not so sure that the "bums" aren't the majority though. It might be an even split if anything.

    I don't think what I am talking about does take away the human aspect of it though. I think a person would feel so much better about themselves if they were able to prop themselves up by their own bootstraps so to speak than if they were getting a hand out.

    The ideas that I am speaking about that started turning our country into a welfare state were the ideas of the FDR administration and the Lyndon Johnson administration. I am not saying these guys were bad people and did not have the best intentions of the country at heart but they should have never allowed the programs they signed into law to become permanent.

    In my opinion, people are not entitled to free money. They are not entitled to free food. They are not entitled to free medical care. In fact, I don't even think people are entitled to jobs. Throughout history, most people had to work for these things, not these things given to them with no strings attached.

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