Liberty

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness Part #2

 

So part #2 is here, and I’m sure you’re wondering what it is going to be about.  I guess I’ll talk about life.  Really I’ll talk about what I think living is all about.  There are many ideas of what living is.  To some living is being successful, having 2.5 kids, a good job, and a loving family.  To others living is just surviving.  I don’t think you have to be rich to be happy.  Having money is certainly a bonus but it isn’t everything.  For the last several years we’ve been what you could consider “successful”, and yet I haven’t felt like I’ve been living life.  We get home from our 9-5’s and grab something to eat, then plop in front of the TV for a few hours, then go to bed and start over the next day.  And this is a problem.  We’re only here for a limited time, and I really feel that you should enjoy your time while you can.  Yes, enjoy.  Every person has a different view of what is enjoyable to them.  For me, I actually like troubleshooting and fixing things, I also like making things, even though I always have a harder time than I expected.  I think that’s why my desk job is killing me, both literally and figuratively.

Sitting at a desk all day in front of a computer cannot be good for me.  When I left Alaska to work construction in Washington, I lost 30 lbs in a year, just by working outside building houses, I didn’t really change my diet (even though I did notice that I wasn’t eating as much), and I was feeling good.  I’m sure if we had stayed there I’d be in even better shape.  Then we moved to Texas, and I ended up at a desk job.  At first I really liked my job, it was engaging, and at the time I got out of the office to do field work every couple weeks.  About 6 years ago, I was promoted, which meant that I rarely ever did field work.  And it has shown.  I’ve gained 60 lbs in the last 6 years, I have horrible posture, and my back hurts most of the time.  Even though I am considered obese, my blood work always comes back great, but how long will that last.  Now is the time to make a physical change to my body.  As I’ve noted on another page, I really need to quit smoking, it’s still not going real well.  I’ll not smoke over the weekend then, when I get back to my job, I’ll end up either bumming a smoke from someone, or I’ll buy a new pack.  Is it truly job related, I don’t know, kind of seems like it, but I’m sure it’s just an excuse.  Anyway  I’ve started eating better (and less), and I’ve been exercising in the mornings, but I’m taking it slowly so I don’t burn out like I have in the past.  Good, hopefully that will take care of the literal killing.

Holy cow this got off track didn’t it.

Getting back to the main point of this series, what did the founding fathers have in mind when they included “Life”?  I feel like they didn’t want to be a slave to a government.  They wanted to be free to live their lives the way they wanted.  The concept of Life and Liberty are connected, you cannot have Life without Liberty.  It’s my right to protect my life, and my property.  As long as I’m not infringing on any one else’s life, I should be able to do what I want.  Now I’m not promoting a chaotic society, but do we really need laws such as these (bear in mind some of these are old), or these?  Now I know there are quite a few people that believe the “Patriot Act” was necessary, and right after 9/11 I’ll agree.  We had no idea if the attacks were part of a larger web of planned attacks or if it was an isolated incident.  Well it’s been over 10 years now, and it’s time to get some of our freedoms back.  If we get attacked again, so be it.  To quote Benjamin Franklin “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

To me life is about being productive, not necessarily for profit, but for the fact that you’ve done something.  Life is being able to provide for yourself (and your family).  If you are constantly required to get help from everyone else, how are you living?  I’m not saying everyone needs to be in isolation from each other, but we need to know to “do”.

I see examples of this all the time.  I know someone who calls a plumber to get a simple drain unplugged at $75 an hour (1 hour minimum).  This is a typical family, husband, wife, 2 kids, not high income earners, but they still feel it’s necessary to call a plumber.  I don’t know them well enough to ask them about it, but I’m going to theorize about them.  I think we’ve become such a disposable society that it is easier to just call someone and pay, then to take the time to figure out what is wrong, and how to fix it.  I don’t know if it is a fear of doing more damage than has already been done, or the fear of feeling incompetent.  Heck it might even be laziness.  If we continue to be reliant on everybody else, we will end up at their mercy.  A few years ago my wife came up to me and asked if I thought her $130 curling iron (yeah) could be fixed (at least she asked!).  I asked her what was wrong with it.  She said “I’m not sure, it doesn’t work anymore”.  So I started looking at it.  First thing I noticed was that the cord at the plug was a bit frayed, so I snipped off the plug, got a replacement plug at the hardware store for $0.75, and attached the new plug to the cord.  Presto chango the curling iron was fixed.  That makes me feel good.  I know that not everything can be fixed by yourself, but how much crap (and money) is wasted by not even trying.  Don’t think that I am on a high horse.  I’ve been just as guilty as anybody else.  I’ve tossed stuff that could have been fixed, but to me it wasn’t worth the effort to fix it, and I always feel bad spending the money to buy a new one.  One does need to be careful though, you don’t need to keep everything, you can’t fix everything, and if you start thinking like that you’ll end up on some TV show about hoarders.  But, how many $130 curling irons are thrown away because no one attempted to fix it?

It’s time to start working like people used to.  My grandpas’ shop was full of old tools that still functioned because my grandfather took care of them, and repaired what he could.  Humans are the most resourceful creatures on Earth, but the last half century or so have really dampened that resourcefulness.  How many people in semi-rural areas have a garden? Not that most people eat fresh food anyway, don’t get me started on that.  How many people repair their homes themselves?  Can you?  I don’t mean in this case whether you’re able to do it, I mean if you’re allowed to do it.  Many municipalities now are requiring any work done on your house be done by a licensed professional with the appropriate permits (ie revenue). The more power we give government, the more they’ll use/take.  We need to tell the government to stay out of our lives.

Don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid to do.

It’s time to start living again.

 

Stay tuned for part #3 in the future…hopefully sooner than 8 months from now.

 

 

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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

As the title suggests, I would like to talk about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. This is the first part of a multipart series regarding our rights as United States Citizens.

I’ll start with an overview of what I believe the founding fathers meant when they drafted the Declaration of Independence. Below is the first part of the Declaration of Independence (full text here), and I’ll touch on several parts as we go on.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

I think I can assume we all know why the colonies separated from Great Britain, if you don’t you can find some good information here, you might learn something (yeah I know it’s Wiki).

So what did the founding fathers (and their constituents) want to do when drafting the Declaration of Independence? It really all boils down to they wanted to be FREE. But what does free mean? I think we all have our own ideas of what freedom is, and I’ll give you what I think they meant for this great country of ours, and later I’ll break down more of the Declaration.

Our founding fathers were tired of King George III’s tyranny against the colonies. The colonists escaped Britain, only to have stricter laws in the colonies than their homeland. They wanted a land that they could govern locally, rather than be governed by someone thousands of miles away. First they rejected British Parliament, because of laws Parliament had passed against the colonies, while the colonies had no representation in Parliament. Then after being snubbed by King George III, they turned on him also. This was not an easy decision. As crappy as it was, it was really all they knew, and it had been that way for hundreds of years. But eventually they had enough. Like most things not everyone agreed with the decision to replace British rule, with an unknown type of government. But I for one am glad our founding fathers prevailed. There were many written works spread throughout the colonies that talked about natural rights, one of these, Common Sense was written by Thomas Paine, and is believed to be one of the most influential. It was pretty hard times for the colonists they had recently finished the French and Indian War, and now the British government was trying to keep a tight grip on the colonies. All the colonists wanted, was to be treated the same as their countryman back in Britain. Parliament wouldn’t budge, and then the King backed Parliament rather than his subjects back in the colonies. And so, after some rebellious acts by the colonists the American Revolution was started.

By establishing the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers wanted a government for the people, to be held accountable by the people. If a government should cease to protect natural rights such as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness of its people, it is the people’s rights (even their duty) to remove that government. The role of the “federal” government, at that time, was to oversee the individual State’s governments, and provide a unified group of states in case of outside threat. Don’t even get me started about the Constitution (particularly the 10th Amendment), I’m sure it will come up sometime. Those that know me, know where I’m going with this. Those that don’t, hold on, I’m going to get on a soapbox.

Our current federal government (and by current I mean the last 90 years) has slowly and surely limited our liberties. It’s like the old frog in boiling water, toss a frog into boiling water and It’ll jump out (not sure if it really will, I’m not that cruel), but put the frog in cold water and slowly raise the heat, and the frog will have no idea, until it finds itself cooked. We are the frog in the warming water, most of us don’t even know it. Soon we’ll be cooked frogs (okay, so that part of the analogy might take some imagination). Sweeping changes throughout recent history has whittled away civil liberties. It seems like there are some leaders out in the world today that think that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” should be/or is “Life, and Happiness”. What do I mean you ask? Well I don’t think that there are people who think that we should all die (well there may be some), so Life has been left in. So what happened to “Liberty”? Well that list is very long, and I’m not going to list them, but think about what you can and can’t do without governmental approval. I found a pretty good article that sums up the last century or so. That leaves Happiness, the astute readers will recognize the missing “pursuit”. There are a lot of people who have been in power, or are in power that think that everyone needs to be “Happy”, and usually the way they think they can do that is by “helping”. The federal government shouldn’t be a “Happiness Factory”. The role of the Federal Government is to secure people’s right to PURSUE happiness, not supply it. Each year the government spends billions (yes with a “B”) of taxpayer dollars to supply “Happiness” to people who, according to the government standards, cannot find happiness themselves. On the same note, it certainly doesn’t make me happy to have my tax dollars taken from me, and given to someone with more “need” than I. Therefore the government has already broken its promise to secure my right to the pursuit of happiness. I guess technically I can still try to pursue happiness, albeit with less means than I had before the IRS came knocking at my door. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for a chaotic society, and I don’t want to remove the US federal government by force. I just think it is time for us frogs to wake up from our slumber in this nice hot tub, and make even more legislative and presidential changes, until the politicians get it through their thick greasy skulls. We don’t want a Welfare State, a Nanny State, or a Socialism State. We want OUR America Back.

Stay tuned for Part #2 The Search for More Money. Kudos to those that get that reference. That isn’t really the title for part 2, I haven’t come up with one yet geez give a guy a break.

6 comments

  1. I think I’m stealing a line from your article as my Facebook status….don’t worry, i’ll add a link to your blog and give you due credit. Excellent article!

    -Anna

  2. I am probably going to stir the pot a bit, but before I do that, I was wondering why you made the comment about wikipedia?

    Ok, now to the fun stuff. I’ll probably end up sprawling all over the place with my comments, so be warned.

    The Patriot Act And Executive Power:

    I make this my first topic because I think this is the bigger threat to us right now. The wire taps, warrantless searches, etc. are just wrong and they need to be eliminated. Along with that, the ability of the president to assassinate people and wage wars with out our approval (among other things) is the problem.

    Socialism and Wanting America Back:

    These sound like talking points from some politician. Tn a democracy we all get to vote and sometimes you don’t get what you want. It’s sad, but we all have to deal with it. I think that when you phrase it like something has been stolen from you, it transforms the whole discussion and takes it in a bad direction. We’re all trying to find the best way to do things and we’ll have to reach a compromise on many things.

    Check out how America taxed the richest people back in the day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States#1930_-_1980). It used to be a lot higher… and people managed just fine.

    Tax Dollars and where they go:

    It’s pointless to complain about taxes and where we’re spending all of this money if you ignore the largest expenditure by far: The Military and National Security Industry.

    Here’s a link to the budget from 2008: http://imgs.sfgate.com/c/pictures/2007/02/08/ed_federalbudgetc08_gr.jpg

    You can see there’s a ton of money being spent, and we probably need to cut some. It makes a lot more sense to stop fighting wars, get rid of most of our military bases in the rest of the world and let someone else take care of things for a while (if it needs taking care of) instead of leaving people without social security and food stamps and a place to live.

    There a huge industry devoted to make us feel afraid and to profit from that. Take all of the money being spent on national security and the flight safety theater with the TSA. I am not sure how you feel about them, but the Washington Post had an interesting article about all of the money and people involved with national security and how most of them are contractors (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/national-security-inc/) and how we aren’t allowed to know what’s going on there. That’s some awesome use of tax dollars.

    It’s probably my Alaskan Paranoia ™ leaking out, but I try to think about who’s going to profit from these types of things, and who is pulling strings to get these things done. It’s people a lot wealthier than any of us and who want to make a ton more. Right now they have the power and we don’t, they have the TV stations and we don’t, and it’s easier for them and their companies to find a way to pay less taxes and to use the government and lawmakers to remove threats to their businesses.

    Here’s where I go a little off-topic for a bit, but check out the laws that are getting passed across the country restricting towns from creating their own municipal internet service provider (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/05/op-ed-north-carolina-broadband-bill-would-eliminate-level-playing-field.ars). They have the funds to make the rules and we don’t.

    That’s the real threat to liberty.

  3. Hey John,
    About Wiki. I’m sure you know about the running internet joke about wiki. It was my attempt at humor. Are you a contributing editor? I use wiki all the time, and for the most part any information I get from it I consider accurate.

    The so called “Patriot” act should be repealed that goes against one of the main founding principles of this nation.
    I truly believe that we are becoming a socialist society, and I don’t want that to happen. Luckily (for now) I can still express my first amendment rights. How much further down the road to socialism do we have to do before I loose that right? I don’t want to know, I’d rather turn back now.
    The Wiki page you linked to also shows that back at the beginning of the 20th century (1913-1915), only the top 1% of the highest earners paid 7% based on their income. Now there are 6 separate tax brackets (each paying between 10% and 35%) the top 10% pay 35%. It just shows how much more money the government needs to survive. So the more you make the more you should pay.

    I agree that our Military spending is out of control, we shouldn’t be the “worlds” police. We should be more concerned about things that are happening here, or right next door.

    I wonder what people did prior to the creation of Social Security and Food Stamps? They managed to get along just fine. It wasn’t easy, I’m sure. People had a sense of personal responsibility that seems to have diminished quite a bit over the last 50-60 years.

    For the most part I think the government shouldn’t be involved in business its beyond their purview. There shouldn’t be a need for lobbyists. That is one group of people that have managed to corrupt our government on both sides left and right.

    The article about North Carolina is sort of a mixed bag. On one hand you have the lady that couldn’t compete because she didn’t have access to high speed internet. If running your business is you’re livelihood, and you cant run your business because of where you live. She needed to move. If you could get access in another town and be successful, it doesn’t make any sense to stay where your business will die. Apparently loosing her livelihood was easier than moving, unless there were other factors that weren’t addressed in the article. That law that was being purposed was a state law, and it was/is up to the people to stop it. I can understand where it was coming from, from lobbyists, and from people concerned about the millions of dollars a local municipality would have to spend on something that might not work for that city in the future. If a broadband connection was put in by a city (at a cost of several million dollars), and it ended up not being profitable, who pays in the long run?

    Good post John thanks for the comment.
    Later

  4. Ah, ok, I don’t do anything with Wiki… I’m a wiki leech though, haha.

    I think I mostly agree with you, with respect to the market doing most of the work. People will buy what they want, and typically someone will step up to make money by bringing a product to an under-served market. Nikiski was a prime example, with our lack of cable TV back when we were there. It’s communities like Nikiski that end up missing out. It’s probably not ideal for the cable co to lay cable all the way out there and to every house, but if the town got together and decided they really wanted cable (and the fast internet that comes with it) and pooled funds to do it, it would be wrong to stop that.

    I just don’t see the playing field as being as level as it should be. I guess it comes down to implementation and people following the rules…

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