This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2017-10-06 at 03:20 and has been accessed 274 times at 53 hits per month.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

The United States of America began as thirteen British colonies subject to the Common Law of England. Common Law, largely a collection of, often conflicting, case decisions, became a background for the constitutions of the thirteen colonies. The first continental congress met in 1774, the actions of which produced the decision to reject the rule of Britain formalized in the Declaration of Independence. "On May 15, 1776, the Congress advised all the colonies to form governments for themselves," ... formalizing the Declaration of Independence on that famous day July 4, 1776.  By 1780, every state had a written constitution." These constitutions took into consideration British Common Law (the good and the bad), the Declaration of Independence, and history.  Important requirements were: the constitutions must be written, must protect the rights of the people, preserve equality, acknowledge that power comes from the people, and provide separation of powers. 

There is nothing casual about what was written, including the order of importance. This is the birth of the United States of America. Every word of the Declaration of Independence has meaning, from the justification for separation, to the creation of implicit ethics, to the establishment of the priorities of the concepts of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, to the inalienable right of equality and independence.

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent1, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; ...2
Sacred & undeniable
Sacred & Undeniable truths - The following statements are axiomatic, that no one may assume otherwise or challenge them and their application in this context.
Equal and independent
All men begin equal in this subsequent context, independently so. Whatever holds for one, holds for all.
Inherent & Inalienable
All men are entitled to retain these rights, simply in virtue of being human, and more, equal and independent among others, throughout their lives.

Simply by virtue of being of this new country, all men, through the covenant of this mutual declaration, shall not be denied and shall not deny, shared equal independence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Five notions, in order, are equal, independent, life, liberty, happiness.  Sacred entails that these rights are inalienable and prohibits denying these rights. Equality requires reciprocity in all the notions that follow. Independence under reciprocity, requires the acceptance of others holding rights equal to self held right.  It is this context that informs the particular rights enumerated herein.

You heard it on the 4th.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness... ARE inherent & inalienable Rights!

Notice, the founding fathers put 'life' before 'liberty'.  That has been upheld by the courts in many ways
You / we do not have liberty to put life in jeopardy, as that would not satisfy equality. Free speech (a later explicitly enumerated liberty) is limited by the right to life.  One may not use speech to materially jeopardize the right to life of another, as they may not do to us. Free choice is limited by the right to life. We may not choose to do things that jeopardizes the life of another person, nor they to us, notwithstanding the ambiguity in the opinions as to when person-hood under the law begins.  

The first three laws of the United States Democracy.
  1. The first law. You have a right to life. Your right to life takes precedence over the right to liberty of others and the right to pursue happiness of others.
  2. The second law: you have the right to liberty provide you do not jeopardize the life of others. Your right to liberty takes precedence over others right to pursue happiness.
  3. The third law: you have the right to pursue happiness, provided you do not jeopardize the life and liberty of others.

The status of Healthcare under the Declaration of Independence.

Healthcare is life.  - inadequate healthcare, whether directly, or through institutionalized restrictions, jeopardizes life, and can not be denied.  Healthcare is a right as much as life is. Equality requires that equal healthcare be available in the same way to all.  Independence requires that there be no discrimination with respect to who can get what healthcare.  Providing to one must not deny another the same provision.

Choice is liberty. - Without differences, there are no choices. Without choices, there is no freedom (liberty)- inadequate choice denies freedom.  We are only free to the degree that there are choices that we can avail ourselves of. The only choices that we may be denied are those that would jeopardize the ability of others to equal choice, or which would jeopardize the life of others. Independence requires that there be no discrimination with respect to who can choose what.  Providing to one must not deny another the same provision.

(Lack of) Wealth is (lack of) happiness. - inadequate means (inadequate wealth) jeopardizes the ability to survive, to be healthy, to have the ability to make the choices others can, and even to pursue happiness. The pursuit of happiness entails at a minimum the pursuit of sufficient means (wealth) to provide for one's self and one's family - adequate employment, adequate education in order to get adequate employment.

Life (healthcare) takes precedence over liberty (choice) by the first law. We can not have the liberty to jeopardize or threaten the life of another, (the legal ambiguity as to when person-hood is entitled notwithstanding). That life limits liberty has been upheld by the courts in many circumstances.

Liberty (choice) takes precedence over pursuit of happiness (wealth) by the second law. We can not pursue wealth in a fashion that denies others liberty, as many non-discrimination laws and cases have upheld in specific cases.  Unfortunately, the systemic "discrimination" by predatory practices of large companies and oligarchs and plutocrats have created an environment where choice is severely limited by breaking unions, keeping wages low, outsourcing to other countries where labor is cheaper, charging exorbitant interest and fees, and more.  Equality and independence dictates that the pursuit of wealth by the few must not deprive the many from pursuing wealth.

  Inalienable and equal among all

Life (1), liberty (2), and the pursuit of happiness (3)!

So say we all.  So Say We All!  SO SAY WE ALL!!!

See: The Constitutional Status of Healthcare for more.


1.  "... to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate [=independent] and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them..."

2.  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. (The final text of the Declaration of Independence.)

3. The Foundation of Freedom, Ralph Kenyon, 1980