The Pursuit of Happiness and How Laws Prevent it

Declaration-of-independence-broadside-croppedPhiladelphia, PA (TFC) – What was once a Union of several Confederated states that each offered a chance at attaining the “American Dream,” has slipped into what some would call the largest police state on the planet. Taxes, both direct and indirect, inflation, deflation, zoning, permits, licenses, insurance, traffic, business, labor, safety, contract and tort, and so on.

All of these are quite extensive and complex laws that are burdensome on the average American. The IRS Tax Code is mind numbingly complicated and is twice as thick as the King James bible with 3,951,104 words. According to the National Taxpayers Union, the Nation lost $221 billion and 6.1 billion hours of productivity “due to the burden of compliance with a complex and invasive tax code.”

The United States was once the most free and prosperous country on earth. During the industrial revolution, immigrants from abroad used what little money they had to risk a new life here in America, literally landing on our shores with sometimes as little as $5 in their pockets, and were able to survive. There was no right-to-work, no child labor laws, or OSHA, or ID laws. People who were able bodied and willing to work in most cases, could find employment.

Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness are the most famous 7 words in the Declaration of Independence. With only one life to live, wouldn’t it make sense that more liberty and freedom would mean a greater chance of achieving happiness? Why do so many Americans take for granted what little freedoms we have left? Are we content with working 40-50+ hours a week JUST to skate by and barely manage our bills, or barely service the interest on our debts?

New York Chauffeur's License, 1913

New York Chauffeur’s License, 1913

As of 2006, there were 206 million licensed drivers (19 & up) in the united States, with a population at the time being about 298.4 million. Nearly 70% of Americans were card carrying, Motor Vehicle License holders. Well, that seems like a good statistic in the sense that more than half of our population play by the rules, correct? Well, how many do not? According to traffic researcher Robert Scopatz of Data Nexus Inc., who studied the issue for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 1 in 10 Americans are driving on a suspended or revoked license. You may ask, why is this important?

When you apply for a driver’s license, take, and pass the test you are now under a new set of laws. This is called the Motor Vehicle Code. Most states have the same Traffic Laws, with the exception of speed limits, traveling in the passing lane, and other basic rules of the road. Some states, like New Hampshire, do not require you to have car insurance, and some have different regulations on vehicle inspections. The Motor Vehicle Code acts as a contract, and you agree to the ‘terms & conditions’ of the contract. How does this effect freedom?

It’s Monday morning, and you are exhausted from a long weekend. The kids woke up late, and now you are rushing to get their school lunches made, and packed, and you are about to be late to work for the third time this month. You are going down the road at 40 MPH, and decide you need to make the light before it turns red, and makes you even more late, so you go through it. The speed zone you are in has a posted speed limit of 25 MPH, and a cop is now pulling you over. After it’s all said and done, you just earned yourself a $200 speeding ticket, points on your driving record, and you are now an hour late to work.

This scenario occurs probably tens-of-thousands of times per day. The State is out in full force enforcing speeds predetermined by a group of people with an official sounding title, and if you disobey the sign, accidentally or purposefully, you are detained against your will and punished with a monetary penalty. To most people this sounds rational, and is for the safety of others. However, even this very scenario is an example of how you have lost your Natural Rights, and are burdened by a penalty for doing so. Speeding is not a crime because the act of speeding alone causes no injury to another person or property, yet we are forced to pay these fines and tickets or we risk losing our licenses.

Driving is one of the best examples on how laws prevent happiness, because most of our police encounters, court appearances, fines, and penalties all stem from our use of the roads. Insurance payments, sales tax, title and registration fees, all add up and go to the State. Most people don’t realize it, but most everybody commits at least one “crime” per day. Imagine that? We are all criminals, in the eyes of the State!

The world is speeding up. When you live week-to-week, your pay check can never come fast enough, and bills never stop showing up. Traffic laws prevent someone from making their own, personal choice on how they travel on the roads. Truck drivers are limited on the amount of weight they can haul in their dump trucks. Sometimes, this means an extra trip costing another $100 in gas just to comply with a rule. Of course, safety is important, but the individual should ONLY be held responsible for an action if a crime is actually committed, or a person or their property has received a damage.

Monopoly on force

The State writes the laws and has an army of police to enforce them. In one way or another, a rule breaker who breaks any law, penal code, or statute, will pay its debts to the State. Compliance itself in the commercial world is ruled by the State, and taxes are collected and paid to, you guessed it, the State.

Our entire lives are spent on making sure we comply with the millions of rules that dictate our lives. Financial burdens cause stress, anxiety, depression, and can tear families apart. Americans seeking the Pursuit of Happiness, rarely achieve it, as most people who do become “successful” in a monetary sense, are still taxed to as much as 50% of their income.

What about property?

Most historians say that when Thomas Jefferson used the term, “Pursuit of Happiness” in the D.O.I., he borrowed it from

John Locke portrait from the Library of Congress

John Locke portrait from the Library of Congress

John Locke. Locke, talked about life, liberty, and estate, or property. This makes sense, because isn’t it true that a free man has a natural right to his own property? Isn’t the American dream supposed to mean you have your own property, for you and your family? — Not so fast!

In a nutshell, you own nothing. At best, Americans rent land from the state, with their permission. When you “own” land “outright,” do you not pay a property tax? When you wish to build a shed, do you not pull a permit?

A free society? If you truly owned your land what business does the state have in dictating how big, or the location of a shed for your lawnmowers?

The pursuit
Happiness is defined differently from person to person. Whether it is money, family, friends, or a nice car, true happiness comes from what each individual decides it does. However, when an outside force or presence is hovering over your shoulder each day, intrusively inserting itself in your daily affairs, the pursuit itself becomes not the challenge, but this force does. Nothing in life should be too easy, as all of life’s achievements are better appreciated when the process was a challenge. When government involves itself in your life, it does so with its hand in your pockets and finger on your pulse. The many laws in place, in this technologically advanced world with civilized societies, should be lessened, not increased, as we move into the future.

As we move ahead in the times, we are told over and over again that we face more and more diverse threats. Governments around the world are clamping down on the freedoms that already free societies enjoy. In America, the American dream goes hand in hand with the pursuit of happiness. Since we know risk equals reward, and more freedom means less security, this simple equation is enough to show that these so-called threats they say we face, are nothing compared to what each of us could have if we actually enjoyed our rights.

Imagine if taxing was decreased to a near unnoticeable level, and everyone enjoyed more of their own money? What if men and women who have amazing mechanical skills had more money to use towards inventions and ingenuity? What if these inventions were not buried, or the U.S. government didn’t charge ridiculous fees to submit patents, or didn’t have the final word on their approval?

It’s quite simple. Laws hinder advancement in our own lives. It is 2015, and we are at the cusp of space travel and a deeper understanding of the universe. Self determination is being better understood by the average person, and we are now at a point where millions of people realize that they themselves have god-given, natural rights they do not want removed. Every one of us can play a role in our own lives, keeping government out of it, and be willing to teach our younger generations that decisions reflect morals, and a person with good morals will live by their own set of rules based on those (positive) morals. As of right now, the rules of society clearly indicate that governments, law-makers, and the like, think populations and/or individuals cannot make informed decisions themselves. We all suffer because of this, when we should be prospering due to the most beautiful thing life can give us, and that is individual freedom.