Occupy Forgets the Roots of American Wealth

This post was originally a reply to a friend and fellow blogger Tanner of The Opinionz Matter. He made a post Occupiers Ignoring The Founding Fathers.

While the above image is from the Constitution of the United States, I would like to cite a reference to another document of civic importance.

“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.”

He focused on the phrases “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Created Equal.”

He reasoned : “”My answers came relatively quickly. I think we can all agree that we should have the freedom to do what we want without lives, whether it involves us being happy or not. No government should prevent that. However, I firmly believe that this statement firmly defines the Founding Fathers’ vision for America; that people should have the right to pursue happiness, not the right to possess happiness in their lives.”

I would reword the last statement to be “not the right [ to be given ] happiness in their lives. But reading this post and others from Tanner I believe he wouldn’t mind the edit.

John Locke

I believe that one can also derive the nature of what was intended in this statement by asking the founders where they got their ideas. I think that it is interesting to consider where Jefferson got many of his views. His work is based much off the work of political theorist John Locke. In a natural state all people were equal and independent, and everyone had a natural right to defend his “Life, health, Liberty, or Property.” Locke uses the word property in both broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it covers a wide range of human interests and aspirations; more narrowly, it refers to material goods. He argues that property is a natural right (meaning no one should be able to forcibly stop you from gaining property) and it is derived from labor (In other words, you have to earn it.) In addition, he believed property precedes government and government cannot “dispose of the estates of the subjects arbitrarily.” Karl Marx later critiqued Locke’s theory of property in his own social theory.

This is what the pursuit looks like.

This became the basis for the phrase in the American Declaration of Independence: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. You can see how happiness is derived from property in Locke’s work, however Jefferson expounded upon the idea as meaning something other than specifically property. If it were, people would assume that the government has an obligation to fill the Right to Property. Instead, Jefferson chose key phrases like “pursuit,” meaning the right to gain without governmental obstruction and “happiness” meaning that which gives value to your life, be it property, fame, relationships or writing blogs.

Learn to Earn. This is not the pursuit of happiness, it’s the pursuit of someone else’s.

Occupy believes that equality is something that is concerned with wealth and that our equality in that respect should be guaranteed. This, as Tanner brought forward, is against the wishes of the founding fathers. Equality is not concerned with wealth. We are created equal, and equality is part of our nature as humans, not the works we do and not part of something that can be given to us by a governing body. Therefore, it seems apparent that the founding fathers did not believe it was their privilege or right to take property or to give it. This is contradictory to the idea of redistribution of wealth and forcible equality of wealth without labor to create that wealth.

We are born equal, we all agree. It took us a long time to understand this. We had to overcome racism, sexism and several other -isms to try to attain the level of equality we have today. I remember growing up when my mom said she thought she would never see a black president. I think that shows how far we have come, not that we are perfect yet, but we are reaching closer now than we have ever been toward equality among everyone. But that, as I said, is when we are created. That is why each of us have only one vote, one voice, equally. Where the equality should stop is the assumption that everyone should have the same property or happiness. This is what is meant to have the right to pursue, meaning it needs to be earned, it has to be worked for and it should never be given.

-Jon

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3 thoughts on “Occupy Forgets the Roots of American Wealth

  1. Think about how horrible and tyrannical a government would have to be in order to “equalize” everything…

    The power it would have to wield would be staggering and the individual rights violations staggering.

    Excellent article!

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