The Soil of American Decline
Life, Liberty, and Happiness vs Cruelty, Suffering, and Servitude
The dismal comments on my Purpose of a Constitution essay make the roots of American decline clear. So clear that I can sum them up in one paragraph.
Many Americans want to deny life, liberty, and happiness to their fellow citizens. They only want those for themselves. Instead, it seems, they want for their compatriots the very opposite: cruelty, suffering, and servitude. They think that that way, they themselves can have life, liberty, and happiness — and everyone else be damned.
There’s just one problem with that. They are also part of the society which they deny life, liberty, and happiness to.
You can’t have it both ways. Why not?
Life, liberty, and happiness depend first on public goods. Hospitals, schools, libraries, and so on. These things give us what money can’t really buy for any of us individually, unless we are billionaires, but we can’t all be billionaires in any society, ever. So a person’s quality of life first depends on public goods.
But many Americans appear to want public goods only for themselves.
That is not how it works. A public library is open to all. A public park, hospital, school, is there for everyone. Or it is there for no one at all.
You can try to segregate your public goods, as America once did. But this is not the old world. No one with talent, creativity, imagination, a working soul will want to live in such a society. Soon it will be a pariah nation, a failing state. Soon it will be…this.
Public goods are there for everyone because that is how they work best. Public healthcare, schools, parks, only for the rich wouldn’t work nearly as well as public healthcare for everyone. Public goods are public goods because their economics mean: everyone is better off sharing these costs, and enjoying these benefits. That is when the costs are lowest, and benefits highest.
This is exactly what is misunderstood by the people denying public goods to their neighbors.
Life, liberty, and happiness are shorthand for “quality of life”. Quality of life depends first on public goods. Public goods are there for everyone, or no one. By definition. They are public. Denying all this, only wanting life liberty happiness for one’s self, is the soil in which the bitter fruit American decline grows.
You might say: it’s karma. When you deny life, liberty and happiness to everyone else, of course you yourself have none. It is, and it’s not. Karma is the cruelty behind it, the mental act that separates mind from soul. The result isn’t karma.
It’s just political economy 101.