Is "The Pursuit of Happiness" Harming America?

Real Estate Agent with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage GREC #208281

I always thought that the much quoted line in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights such as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" actually meant the same thing to everyone who read it.

I always thought "Liberty and the pursuit of happiness" meant that you, as an individual, were free to do anything that you wanted as long as you didn't infringe on the rights of others to do the same thing.  My understanding is that we formed a government in order to protect those individual rights for us.

But it's shocking to find out that some "conservatives" have a different understanding.  Here's what a Republican candidate for president has to say on the topic.

"The pursuit of happiness and personal pleasure is harming America."

"One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a Libertarianish right.

They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues.

That is not how traditional conservatives view the world.

There is no such society that I am aware of, where we've had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture."

This is what Rick Santorum actually said on multiple occasions.  He said it several years ago and he has said it very recently.  It seems to be his core belief.

He says that the pursuit of happiness is harming America.  He says that the kind of freedom that our founders envisioned wasn't to be able to do whatever I want to do as long as no one gets hurt.  Instead, it's a freedom to be responsible to do what is good for society and the common good.  I suppose that  Rick Santorum and other smart people in government know what that common good is.  They seem to want to use the force of government to make us be "free" to do those good and responsible things. 

What does "Liberty and the pursuit of happiness" mean to you?  Do we as individuals decide what's best for us or do we allow the government to use it's force to make us do what's best for us and society?    This is a core question that each of us needs to answer because it determines what road we go down.

Presidential elections are very important.  They set the agenda and the philosophy of government.  Here are some quotes that I love that I found from Jefferson.  He's the guy who actually wrote the Declaration of Independence.  Read these quotes and then watch the videos of Rick Santorum's interrpretation of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  There's a big difference.

Jefferson's own definition of happiness:

"Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind."

He also said that:

"I believe that every human mind feels pelasure in doing good to another."

Then goes on to say:

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

Here's his definition of liberty:

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."

Can we trust ourselves to govern ourselves?:

Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.


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About the Author:  Tim Maitski has been a full time Realtor since 1999. He has sold several hundreds of homes in areas around metro Atlanta.  Tim started with RE/MAX Greater Atlanta and is now with Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage.


Along with blogging on ActiveRain, he provides one of the best real estate websites in Atlanta at .


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Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Tim, to tell you the truth, I was less surprised by Rick, than by Glenn Beck, praising Rick's views

Feb 08, 2012 04:18 PM #1
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Jon,  I just find in fascinating getting to the basis for what people believe in.  I kind of admire Rick Santorum for at least thinking through his beliefs and knowing what he believes in.  Unfortunately, I think he is dead wrong. But I don't think many really think through what freedom actually means to them. They just go along with the crowd and assume that the crowd knows what they are talking about.

But this difference in views is nothing new.  It is getting me to study things in history that I never knew about.  You have John Locke who seems to be who Jefferson followed and then you have Edmund Burke and Thomas Hobbes who it looks like people like Rick Santorum are followers of.  So this arguement goes back to the 1600s.  I never studied the differences but when you do, there a big difference in where you end up. 

But when you understand the subtle differences of the opposing viewpoints, you can at least make an informed decision and vote based on that.

The one book that changed my whole understanding of the proper role of government is "The Law" by Frederic Bastiat.  It was written back in the 1840s and you can find it free online.  I believe if everyone in America would read that book and understand it, we would not have the government we have today.  Unfortunately, our system will eventually collaspse.  And it's not as if it couldn't be predicted.  I'm hoping that we can avoid a collapse but history shows that change usually only comes when there is a crisis.  And that change usually isn't the kind that is good change.  Let's hope that we can avoid it.

Feb 09, 2012 01:38 AM #2
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