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On Life, Liberty and Livelihood

by cskendrick Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:49:39 PM EST

This being a response to Teacherken's DailyKos diary "acknowledging the important but often overlooked?".

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece that focused on the refusal of Monica Goodling, one of U.S. Attorney General Gonzales's staff to testify before Congress, a piece that turned into an exposition on what it was, that heretofore-nameless (for many) wrongness that pervades every Bush administration action, inaction, statement and silence. It's more precise than wrong, more slippery than crime, more tangible than evil. It's intentional tort or what the Romans once called delict, the wrongful act (as in in flagrante delicto).

Today, inspired by a great educator who just happens to be very "toonagenic", I write what I'd like to do, and help the American (and every other) society do: Leave the world a better place than it was the day before.


We need to (re)assemble a commonwealth that wilfully causes good by foreseeable actions and aversions to harmful choices, that such decisions save thousands of lives, return to tens of thousands their health, to millions their livelihoods, and save trillions of dollars, and have such efforts redeem the generous and practical values of the American people.

No President, No Congress, no person, principality or potentate on this Earth can possibly remedy all harm alone, even hope to enumerate the list of harms done to the commonwealth. The beauty of it is, working as a people by the simple beacon of that which saves life, liberty and livelihood is more likely to cause good than harm, the list of that which must be healed grows swiftly manageable.

I wish for all to be bound to rules of law, made in common, that support the values of life, liberty and livelihood, and that no one or few or many of us have the right to fill their pockets with the full graves and empty bellies and bank accounts of others.

I assert it is the right of the American people to decide on the fitness of those who serve in positions of trust at their pleasure, and where life, liberty or livelihood are harmed by the acts of those who displease, that their removal be a matter not of wrath, but of dispassionate practicality, lest violent passions prevail. This, too, preserves life, liberty and livelihood.

Some might say we cannot trust others to write, to enforce, or to abide the law, that many in positions of both power and weakness respect neither the spirit nor letter of the law, or the powers who prosecute and enforce the same.

One has to ask how this condition of distrust arose. Some might say the lawless have no regard for order; perhaps they should reflect on if those who wrote and those who enforce the laws do so in a way that is respectful of the life, liberty and livelihood of those who are expected to abide their precepts.

Some will always disobey some laws at some time to some extent; speed limits being a prime example. When such laws are enforced, it is an exercise in public safety.

Yet when laws forbidding the use of one's own body are enforced, to the endangerment of the person, that is something else entirely.

Nor is it acceptable to declare at times that some are above the prescription and others outside the protection of law, by right of special power, or circumstance, or presumption of hostility to the laws and safety of the land.

Either the laws apply to all, or disregard for them all is the inevitable result.

Where the laws of the land protect life, liberty and livelihood, the laws, the lawgivers, and the enforcers of these good and just laws are held in higher (even highest) regard.

When they do not, obedience becomes an onerous thing to give and ever more expensive to compel.

Where the lawgivers hold the good of the people in contempt, they become a poisoned well from which no good water can be drawn, giving only sickness and harm to the body politic. Such persons must be replaced, their acts and inactions remedied, the lives and lands touched by their contamination healed, and reparations made.

So I would see the land healed, the damage to all our values first mitigated, then removed, likewise the harm afflicted on lands far away as a consequence of the choices of men and women who at some point lost their way, and forgot that there is no vision worth imposing on others, that need be imposed in the first place.

To our estranged brethren, I would say this:

If you value life so much, then stop ending so much of it.

If you value liberty, likewise.

If you prize livelihood so, stop endangering yours and mine alike.

Surely, we can agree that the basic value of government is securing these blessings of liberty.

If not, perhaps it is time to end this conversation, and...

...we will secure these blessings of life, liberty and livelihood, whether you like it or not.

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Have Keyboard. Will Travel. :)
by cskendrick (cs ke nd ri c k @h ot m ail dot c om) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:50:03 PM EST
Good founding principles. I have alwasy felt that laws should be discussed on the underlying sentiment of increasing the sum total of human happiness.

Unforntuately too many interpret happiness as indulgence, which ain't quite the same.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 09:52:02 AM EST


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