Sunday, September 26, 2010

I read an interesting thought earlier today by Ronald R. Cherry :

"A natural equal right to the creative pursuit of happiness can only be secured by equal law which results in natural unequal outcome. Some individuals will attain superior achievement through greater creativity or greater labor, while others work less or with lesser creativity which naturally leads to unequal outcome."

 As a thoughtful observation made, perhaps, from a quiet study or in a University setting, I found it curiously calming and reassuring.  But a sense of disquiet followed that made me sit back and mull a bit on the comment, and then on the exact words used and finally on what was NOT said.

I concluded that there are a number of problems with the proposition.

First, there is no such thing as equal law.  By its very nature, it is always attempting to reach and equality, to be sure, but that definition is always changing in a dynamic society.    It is not a separate absolute knowable goal exactly because of that dynamic.

Secondly, the law in any event is not controlling, responding after the events where a perceived desirable outcome is not reached or reachable.The second sentence, while accurate, leads the trusting reader to assume definitions of terms where the definitions are not present, making it possible to adopt the premise of the thought...a mistake indeed.  For example, what some people will define as a "greater creativity" would be defined by others as a "con" or "twisting the rules."  As an example, how do you define the creation of default swaps in the midst of the run-up to the economic turmoil in which we find ourselves struggling today?  What about the definition of government decisions and collective bargaining agreements which results in protecting the incomes and fortunes of those clearly not earning and deserving of such benefits?

And finally (for now), it is not at all clear that there is any "natural" equal right to the pursuit of happiness.  Our Fore-fathers declared it so...and attempted to protect it in the Constitution.  But consider:  If it is a natural right, why does it need artificial protection in any government document and why hasn't it been evident in other ages and other countries down through history?

More logically it can be identified as a desirable privilege founded in moral thought and principle...but certainly not evident in history as having the standing of being "natural", much less a "right."  Humans with a sense of purpose, a competitive spirit, a moderate willingness to and understanding of  "taking a chance" and, most importantly, an understanding and belief in and willingness to accept consequences will always act and support a sytem that allows for the pursuit of happiness as a right, natural or otherwise.  But there are many of the human persuasion who prefer to be cared for, to not make hard decisions, to not take chances, and to accept a lower level of happiness (for now, at least) that is guaranteed and not the product of taking chances and of hard work.

The mutual existence of these groups is made problematic by the fact that the product of the first group must of necessity by taken, at least in part, to fund the existence of the second, but...details, details, details.

The quote is useless and irrelevant to any practical application to the human condition in America. The fact that it can be read by anyone and interpreted by them to support any particular vision of life is the very fault that would make it the centerpiece of virtually universal disagreement  in any attempt to apply it to real life.  It's sole benefit is as a centerpiece for discussion in a University or professorial setting...a good mental exercise indeed.

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