News reports about the Occupy Wall Street movement and interviews with occupiers are reminiscent of the doublespeak of the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse in “Alice in Wonderland.”
“Greed” means anyone with a lot of money must have stolen it, “social justice” requires the wealthy share since they have more than they need and “equality” and “fairness” mean redistribution to each according to his needs.
It is not unreasonable to conclude the misguided protestors subscribe to the collectivist ideal that the “greatest good for the greatest number,” which implies the “good” of the majority must be achieved by the suffering of a minority; that the benefit of one man depends on the sacrifice of another. They are oblivious to the self-evident truths that you cannot make the poor prosperous by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity, just as you can’t multiply wealth by dividing it.
The inalienable rights of men as defined and protected by the Constitution are: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The right of life means that man cannot be deprived of his life or property for the benefit of another man nor of any number of other men.
The pursuit of happiness means man’s right to live for himself, to choose what constitutes his own private, personal, individual happiness and to work for its achievement, so long as he respects the same right in others. It means that the collective cannot decide what is to be the purpose of a man’s existence nor prescribe his choice of happiness.
Henry David Thoreau warned, “If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I would run for my life.”
If we do not understand, preserve and adhere to the principles that have nurtured the “greatest good,” i.e. the highest standard of living on the planet, we will live not as free men, but as serfs.