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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

By Joseph Concannon

What does Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness mean?  To many of us it means many different things.  When our founders developed the Declaration of Independence, they explained it this way: “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.”

During these troubling times living in Queens County has its challenges.  Queens is one of New York State’s 62 counties and ranks high in its number of registered Republicans.  You might expect that the Declaration of Independence would be top of mind for many.  Using this past weekend as a reference point it would be hard to tell.  No matter which of Queens County’s 18 Assembly Districts you live in we hear little about our values which the Declaration of Independence speaks so loudly on. 

In a society so dominated with violence, destruction of property and a fawning media that projects prominence upon such things it’s no wonder why our values have literally fallen off the cliff.  Government and the media have teamed up to support boldface lying, the lack of integrity and outright falsely reporting to the people with routine acceptance.  Look no further than NYS Governor Nursing Home Scandal, abuse of women in the workplace for examples.  Yet we are said to have the unalienable right of life in a state that kills the unborn and now murders children outside the womb as well.  Our disregard for LIFE speaks volumes about our values as civilization. 

Coined in 1776 as “unalienable rights” endowed by our Creator, would today seem almost fanciful.  Taken so lightly that those among our ranks assail our right to free speech (censorship), freedom of religion (over regulation of COVID on steroids), and normalization of our moral decline as a nation.

We the people created government to protect our “unalienable rights”.  Yet today the government we created seems to be the very government that assails us at every possible turn it takes.  Here is where the discussion of Liberty takes place.  Government gets created in every election that takes place.  We either affirm the government we have, or we choose to vote in a new government through our voting for those in statewide positions and/or district by district (state senate, state assembly) races.  Over-taxation, regulation and rule by rule over our lives, equates to less liberty. The more taxes, the less liberty.  When Government raises rates on bridges, tunnels, trains, buses, gasoline it costs us more out of our pocket.  The money we have gets weighed against the cost to do things.  If the rates are so high, we can’t afford to move around freely this is a direct attack on our liberty.

Taxation without representation was a slogan coined during the American revolution.  But what do you do when a society literally does this to themselves and fails to recognize the inherit risks of a government so large, so burdensome, and so punitive that by the time society recognizes it – it’s too late? “…that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  We address the sufferable evils by voting out elected officials and bringing in a new form of government. 

Voting matters and elections have consequences. The Declaration of Independence directs: “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.”  It is the duty of the people to understand their form of government, their role in changing it and their responsibility to pay attention when it is out of control.  We the people need to fully comprehend that Voting Matters and Elections have consequences.  Notwithstanding a fawning media, distortion of the facts, we the people control our own destiny and thus our own happiness. 

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